12 Ways Entrepreneurs Describe Meaningful Work

What does meaningful work look like to you?

If you’re launching your own business, chances are it is work you deeply care about. Members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) define what “meaningful work” means to them.

1. It’s Fulfilling

The prospect of finding fulfilling work is believed to be relegated to the lucky few born with extraordinary talent, wealth or an unusual drive to succeed. Meaningful work is not just possible, it is your right. It is doing something that gives you short-term and long-term satisfaction, while also making a positive impact either for your clients, employees, community, or all of the above.

– Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

2. It Requires Planning Out Goals

It’s easy to get caught up in platitudes when it comes to describing something as “meaningful” or “important.” Ultimately, it comes down to planning out goals (both at organizational and individual levels) and putting in the time and incredible effort to achieve, or even exceed, those goals. The meaningful work is always helping us get to our next milestone.

– David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

3. It Has a Positive Effect

Meaningful work shows itself through the positive effect you have on people, whether they are customers, friends, co-workers, etc. This can occur in a variety of ways, such as creating value for your clients, working in a company that empowers its employees to make a difference, or volunteering your time outside of work with a nonprofit.


Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC

4. It Includes Intrinsic Motivation

Meaningful work is having opportunities for people to use their skills and abilities in their work, and having the autonomy and independence to enjoy their work, as well as the work itself. It’s finding joy in small tasks and seeing how those small tasks contribute to the bigger picture.



– Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

5. It Includes Progress Towards a Goal

People do not get burned out from too much work, but from feeling like they are not making progress towards an overall goal. Meaningful work, to me, is that which brings me closer to a significant achievement. These goals are not on your daily to-do list but are the things that make you excited to wake up in the morning.


– Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar

6. It Gives You A Reason to Wake Up

As Simon Sinek said, “The why is more important than the what.” That’s true not only for your customers but for you and your team. Meaningful work comes from having a great reason to wake up — a great why. Sometimes it is as simple as framing your work with a bigger purpose. For instance, I encouraged a company switch to focusing on the why of protecting human life instead of manufacturing doors.

– Eric Mathews, Start Co.

7. It Looks Like Trust

There’s nothing better than earning a person’s trust. I work in the relationship business (don’t we all?) and trust is certainly the name of the game. And the thing is, it’s not a game. It can’t be bought, manufactured, short-cut or faked. Trust is earned. And trust, when it’s built, is significant. When clients trust you, work takes on a whole new meaning.


– Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard

8. It Has a Broader Impact

When I started Trustify with my co-founder, we knew we wanted to ensure that there was a social mission component to the work we do. Meaningful work to us meant that we would make a difference in the lives of the individuals we served and in our local community, as well as through nonprofit partnerships with whom we give pro-bono services.


– Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

9. It Measures ROI by Impact, Not Dollars

It’s easy to look at “success” in financial numbers, but at the end of the day, all we have is our time. “Meaningful work” should be looked at as how you are changing your life and the lives of those around you. Anyone can make money, but making money while changing the world and improving other people’s lives and experiences in the process — now that’s meaningful!

– Zac Johnson, Blogger

10. You Would Even Pay to Get to Do It

My most meaningful work usually involves three factors: (1) I’m really good at it; (2) Time flies when I do it (I even forget to take breaks or eat); (3) I really enjoy it, and I would be willing to have money come out of my pocket (instead of making money) to get to do it.



Andre Chandra, I Print N Mail

11. It Feels Right

I define meaningful work by how it makes me feel. I have a set of core values that I live by, and those values guide me. When I am working on something that aligns with my values, everything feels right. The work is easy and the end product is better. Finding meaning in work is 100 percent about focusing on the way that work makes you feel.


– Amber Anderson, Kayson

12. It’s Challenging

Positive psychologists have shown that the most rewarding work pushes us just beyond our comfort zone. Tasks that are easy bore us. Tasks that are too difficult frustrate us. For me, meaningful work occupies a sweet spot in-between, whether it’s designing business strategies, networking, or managing employees. It’s more about the challenge than the specific type of work.

–Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.




Young Entrepreneur Council

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective (http://businesscollective.com), a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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