What’s Your Motivation? 11 Merchants Share Their Reasons for Starting a Business

a black and white image of a hand holding a sign saying 'stay focussed'

There are a multitude of reasons for starting a business. What could provide endless motivation for one person, might not work for another.

Maybe you want an alternative to the 9-5 grind.

Or just need to earn some extra cash for a holiday.

Or perhaps it’s something else altogether.

Whatever your reason for starting a business is, it’s going to be your driving force as you navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

But the good news is, you’re not alone in the struggle.

Even when running a business can feel like an overwhelming and solitary mission, you can take solace in the fact that others have been there too – and come out the other side.

If you’re currently starting or thinking about starting a business, you’re probably researching as much as you can about the nuts and bolts of the operation.

But sometimes we need to hear the encouraging human stories as well. The ones that remind us we’re not alone on this crazy journey and leave us feeling reinvigorated once we finish them.

After speaking to 11 Oberlo merchants, we’ve rounded up a bunch of the motivations and reasons for starting a business that led to them to establish their online dropshipping stores.

Your reasons might be the same as theirs or vastly different, but hopefully they’ll all encourage you to keep on hustling.

The Side Hustlers: Those Who Want to Supplement Their Income

While there are a lot of entrepreneurs who have sought to make their online business a full-time gig, there are also those who just want their store to provide a side income.

Having a side hustle isn’t a new thing, but over the last 10 years having a source of extra income seems to have become more appealing (and necessary) as the cost of living has risen and jobs have become less secure.

Having a second stream of income could enable you to travel, pay off debt faster, or just live a more comfortable life. You might not be interested in making millions, but a few extra hundred every month could make a significant difference. And that’s exactly why these entrepreneurs started dropshipping.

1. Ross Madden

Ever had something suddenly break or need repair, but you just can’t justify the cost? Ross Madden has. After spending hundreds to fix his cracked phone screen, it was broken again the very same week. Being a student, Ross was unenthused by the idea of handing over another $200 to have it fixed, so he decided this was the amount he wanted to make from his newly built online store.

Ross managed to balance studying at college with running his online store selling teeth whitening charcoal, and was happy to be making $400 a month. However, it wasn’t long before he scaled his business and made $200,000 in sales in less than a year.

Because he was studying, it was never Ross’s intention to run his store full-time, and having an online store allowed him to take a step back when he needed to study for an important exam. And, the money he earned from running his side hustle has given him financial independence most 25-year-olds can only dream of. Not to mention a learning experience college can’t quite match.

2. Mandie and Aubrey

To supplement their incomes from their full-time jobs, friends Mandie and Aubrey went into business selling items through their carefully grown Facebook page. With successful careers and families, the pair weren’t looking to get into ecommerce full-time but were interested in seeing how far they could take their side hustle to make a little extra cash.

At first, Mandie and Aubrey ordered, processed, and shipped products themselves. But as their page grew in popularity, their side hustle demanded more and more of their time. “I’ve got a full-time job,” says Aubrey, “she’s got a full-time job, we both have kids and it was like, we love the success, but this is taking too much time.”

With the passion for their business fueling her, Mandie searched for ways to ease the pressure of the manual processing. And, after the discovery of Oberlo helped them automate more of the process, their business was able to grow in a manageable way. These days their side hustle has generated over $100,000 in revenue – and the pair have been able to do it all while keeping their full-time jobs.

3. Chris Wane


While working a full-time job, Chris Wane started opening dropshipping stores in the hope he could earn an extra $200 a week to pay for a holiday or help with the bills. And, although he struck out with his first five stores, Chris stayed motivated and finally cracked the code with his sixth store, Big Red Gadgets.

After taking the time to properly learn about Facebook ads, Chris’s store starting making cash – and once he found a winning product it was basically printing it. In nine months Big Red Gadget’s made $500,000 in sales, with a profit margin of 20 percent.

For Chris, the extra cash was the reason for starting a business and it’s meant he’s been able to travel, buy a car, and make home repairs. But despite this, he always kept his store as a (highly profitable) side hustle, maintaining his full-time job as well.

The Dreamers: Those Who Love the Entrepreneurial Lifestyle

For some, the idea of being an entrepreneur has always been appealing. Investing time and effort into an idea and watching it come to life is the sort of stuff their dreams are made of.

Having this love of the entrepreneurial lifestyle has been enough to keep many business owners passionate for their project. The delight at seeing results rolling in as a consequence of their actions fuels and drives them in a way they’d never experienced working as an employee.

For these store owners it was much the same. And even when they didn’t have a product, it didn’t stop them imagining a time when they could run their own business.

4. Jordan Bourque

Oberlo/Shopify user Jordan BourqueJordan Bourque has always been passionate about entrepreneurship. Early on in his university days he would use the thought of one day running his own business as motivation to pass his studies. There was just one issue – he didn’t have an idea for a product or service.

For Jordan, the thought that he could have total control in his life was the underlying drive for his mission to run his own business. “You get out what you put into it,” he says, speaking about business ownership. “You have no one else to blame.” His mindset was already there, he just needed to figure out how to make his dream come true. Then he discovered dropshipping.

After learning all about dropshipping, Jordan realized he could live out his entrepreneurial dream and put in the effort to learn and grow both himself and his business. And the results speak for themselves: his online store generated over $100,000 in revenue last year, including $20,000 of sales in just one month.

5. Matt Riley

Matt Riley Oberlo/Shopify merchants
Matt Riley always imagined he’d open a business – he even studied business entrepreneurship. But he saw it as a plan for a few years down the road. However, once he learned about the potential of ecommerce, Matt managed to bring his dream forward 10 years.

After discovering Oberlo and Shopify through YouTube, Matt jumped into creating online stores. Though he’s the first to admit it wasn’t an easy journey. “To be honest it was hard at first,” he says. “I wasn’t profitable for the first four months, and I was struggling.”

But, as hard as it was to make his online businesses work, he knew that working his safe and steady customer service job wasn’t a long-term option. “I felt so tied down that I didn’t really want to be there anymore. I just wanted to work for myself.”

With this motivation fueling him, Matt powered through, gained skills, and made over $370,000 in revenue in 2018. The profits even allowed him to quit his unfulfilling customer service job to totally commit to an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

The Travelers: Those Who Wanted to Choose When and Where to Work

While many people work best with a steady, dependable routine keeping them on track, for others it’s a major restriction they’d rather not have.

Perhaps they’re night owls being forced to work when they’d rather sleep. Or maybe they just hate being chained to a desk when they could create an office wherever there’s a flat surface, coffee, and wifi.

Whatever the reason, being free from a set routine and location can be a huge motivator to make an online business work – as Yuliya and Mike prove.

6. Yuliya and Mike

Although she was already working as a health coach and business consultant, and running a subscription box with her partner Mike, Yuliya Chernykhovskaya realized she wanted something more than her current ventures offered.

“One thing I’ve always really wanted is just to have time and location freedom,” Yuliya says. And, while she had created several of her own businesses, they didn’t quite allow the level of flexibility Yuliya craved. “I felt like I was more self-employed versus being a business owner.”

With the desire to be more of a hands-off business owner burning bright, Yuliya jumped at the opportunity that ecommerce presented. And, after building a dropshipping store, bringing her partner Mike onboard, and developing a strong brand, the pair have rocketed to success, making over two million in revenue.

The Professionals: Those Who Wanted to Hone Their Marketable Skills

It can be frustrating to know you have the skills and drive to do a job well, but can’t quite convince others of that fact – especially when you’re just starting out.

So what do you do when you want to level up but others won’t give you the chance? Create your own opportunity instead.

Jumping into the world of business ownership is the perfect way to fully understand the pain points of fellow entrepreneurs and gain real experience solving them – just like these two entrepreneurs and marketers.

7. Jacky and Albert

Jacky and Albert stand against a graffiti'd brick wall
While trying to make it as marketing consultants, Jacky and Albert wanted a way they could attract quality clients instead of taking on demanding, poorly paid work just to scrape by. They needed to convince potential clients they had the skills to help them so they went about creating their own case study.

The pair had dabbled in ecommerce and dropshipping before, but the discovery of Oberlo provided a way to take care of the nitty gritty of running a store so they could focus on flexing their marketing skills. And flex they did. After spending over half of their initial advertising budget, the pair discovered a winning product and worked hard to market it, making $780,000 in sales over eight months.

Because of their unexpected success, Albert now runs their “case study” store full-time, gaining more and more marketing experience with each day, and Jacky balances running the store and consulting. Better yet, because of the store’s success he’s able to pick and choose his clients, focusing on those he truly wants to work with. “It’s done wonders for my mental health,” he says.

The Curious: Those Who Wanted to Try Something New

Have you ever discovered something new and wanted to give it a try just to see what happens? Maybe you were intrigued by a new sport, or found a new hobby. Or maybe you stumbled upon a whole new way to make a living.

For some, just a peek into the world of business ownership can be enough to get hooked. Reading a simple article about ecommerce leads to watching video tutorials, which leads to creating a store, all just to see if the rumors about running an online business are true.

With a love of learning and developing new skills acting as their key drivers, these curious ecommerce entrepreneurs have found results they didn’t know were possible.

8. Jeffrey Ho

Jeffrey Ho Shopify merchantAfter spying an Oberlo blog in his Facebook newsfeed, Jeffrey Ho was intrigued. Despite never having any intention of getting into the world of ecommerce, he read the article and was inspired to learn more.

Soon, Jeffrey was devouring all he could about ecommerce, dropshipping, and Oberlo. His curiosity led him to start his own business to try it for himself. It took a few months and a lot of hours, but motivated by wanting to figure this ecommerce thing out, Jeffrey found a product that worked and his store soon became a success.

After making over $57,000 in sales in his first year, Jeffrey’s new skills allowed him to quit his day job and throw himself into his business full-time. Who could’ve predicted one blog post would result in so much change!

9. Rodney and Kory

Rodney and Kory success storyHearing about a new business venture from a random guy in a foreign country might sound a little dubious, but for Rodney and Kory it was the beginning of their hugely successful gaming store.

After Rodney heard about dropshipping from a traveler in Costa Rica, a series of events led the pair to investigate everything they could about this intriguing business model. “We just got obsessed,” Kory says, with the pair consuming everything about it that they could find.

That thirst for knowledge eventually resulted in them launching their store and generating over $345k in sales using skills they taught themselves. Throughout it all, their drive for learning and doing more has been the solid foundation for their growing success.

The Seekers: Those Who Wanted to Pursue a Passion, Not a Paycheck

Working to live or living to work? That’s a question many ponder, especially when they’re collecting a paycheck for a job they don’t find particularly fulfilling.

While it was once the norm to settle into a steady and dependable job whether you enjoy it or not, these days more people want a career that will both challenge and satisfy them. And when you spend so many hours a week working, why not!

This search for work they felt passionate about is what led these entrepreneurs to leave behind what they thought they should do and tackle what they wanted to do instead.

10. Jenny Lei

Jenny Lei Oberlo merchantAfter graduating college, Jenny Lei found herself as many new graduates do, dashing from interview to interview trying to find a job. However, it was in the midst of this that she had an epiphany. ”I realized that the jobs I was interviewing for, I wasn’t really interested in,” she says.

With this realization, Jenny started looking for other ways she could make a living and realized she’d already found one with an ecommerce business she started years ago. While her old store had failed, this time Jenny was driven by a desire not to fall into a career she didn’t enjoy just to pay the rent.

Channeling this motivation, she formed a business around her passion for handbags and started pouring time into something she was actually excited about. Eight months later, Jenny’s hard work netted her over $680,000 in sales. And better yet, she’s been able to stop interviewing for jobs she was never going to enjoy to focus on something she truly loves instead.

11. Yuanda Wang

Yuanda Wang sitting behind a laptop against a brick wallAfter feeling clueless about which career he wanted to commit to, Yuanda Wang starting studying life sciences to satisfy his parents’ desire for him to become a doctor. But, it wasn’t long before he realized his real passion lay in ecommerce and entrepreneurship.

Having been intrigued by online businesses for years, Yuanda started building an online store using skills he’d picked up from his own research. It wasn’t always an easy road and it took four or five stores before he developed the skills and found a product that would really catapult him to success.

Finally, when Yuanda cracked the perfect product – iPhone adapters – he managed to generate an impressive $18,000 in sales in four months. And what’s more, he realized that he wasn’t inspired by a future career as a doctor and switched to studying psychology instead.

The combination of new studies and running his store has totally changed Yuanda’s outlook. “I feel like it’s given me a sense of purpose,” he says. “When I wake up in the morning, I have something that I know I can work on and it can be a bigger thing that really motivates me to get out of bed and start working hard right away.”

What’s your inspiration and motivation for building and bettering your store? Tell us in the comments below.

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