Reasons to Choose Entrepreneurship as a Career Path


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

This month, Ka Wai Ola’s theme deals with a subject matter I’ve taught at Hawaiʻi Pacific University for many years…entrepreneurship. Why are young people particularly interested in starting their own businesses? Why do you think entrepreneurs are more likely than employees to achieve financial success? Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of America’s richest entrepreneurs once said: “Ignore the stock market, ignore the economy, and buy a business you understand.”

People choose to become entrepreneurs for different reasons. Some are motivated by dissatisfaction with the organized work world, citing desires to escape unreasonable bosses or insufficient rewards and recognition as motives to start their own companies.

The Desire to be Your Own Boss

Entrepreneurship Matrix
Long description available

Basically, the “desire to be your own boss” motivates a lot of young adults to pursue this career path. Some have an idea for a product or service that would really fill a need or help keep a culture alive into perpetuity. Our Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, with clubs on every major island, helps stress this need as they are proof that Hawaiians are some of the most amazingly brilliant creators of products and services.

The pandemic and resulting economic slowdown showed clearly how many workers had no job security. Large companies began downsizing, eliminating more jobs than they created, and till this day are trying to improve their financial status by massive layoffs.

Entrepreneurs are wealth creators. Many of the recipients of our Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF) started their ventures with a specific goal of creating a profitable business and reaping its rewards. Having been a member of OHA’s first NHRLF, I can speak firsthand of their successes. Of course there were failures, but then they sought solutions to find the answers to help them survive. They did not give up. Perseverance and a “never-give-up attitude” allowed our Hawaiʻi Island fishermen, who sought loans for purchasing boats, to make “fishing” their first company. They found out that their business plans needed to be updated to keep up with what was actually happening with the economy at that point in time. It was their own “baby” that they were so proud of!

At our Trustees’ Kauaʻi Board virtual meeting last month, Mr. John Kaohelauliʻi of Kauaʻi’s Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce shared how he started his own company years ago and he is still thriving today (during these COVID-19 times). Hoʻomaikaʻi, John!!! Congratulations!

Starting a business gives the founder some choice over when, where, and how to work. For other entrepreneurs, their quality of life was defined in terms of their ability to fulfill broader “social objectives” through their ventures, whether it be the environment, climate change, or ʻāina momona. They are working to preserve our forests, our streams, our mauna…putting a whole new and gratifying perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur.


A hui hou, Mālama Pono,

Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa