Business Miscellaneous

Despite Challenges, Small Business Owners Remain Happy

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Small business owners often say that starting a business was the best decision they ever made; entrepreneurs are often happier than employees. But why? After all, isn’t running a business stressful and uncertain, with long hours and big risks? What does it take for small business owners to be happy? A study performed by Guardian Life shed some light on the topic, and it offers some useful insights for small business owners who want to be happier in life, while also being more successful at business.

Guardian Life’s survey identified several keys to success broken down into six “dimensions” that define small businesses geared toward growth and increased profits, even in the midst of economic downturns. According to the study, the most successful small business owners are curious and self-motivated while truly caring about their company’s mission.

Being your own boss is typically part of the draw of owning a business, so it makes sense that business owners would be highly self-motivated and mission-oriented. But there were some other surprising findings as well.

The most successful small business owners balanced a pursuit of professional and personal goals by making time for both. They also had a knack for spotting talent in others and finding ways to bring people into the fold who could benefit the company. Considering that business owners are used to wearing many hats and making almost all the decisions, this can be a good reminder that the best leaders know when to step aside and let others take the wheel.

Here are a few of the key dimensions of happiness and success for business owners. Where do you see yourself fitting into these?

Business Owners Value Collaboration

You can’t do everything yourself, and you shouldn’t make every major decision on your own. When we set aside our egos and actively look for the strengths in our team members, we can create new opportunities for them to grow. This can make it easier to actually follow through on all those initiatives you planned at the start of the year.

This is why it’s critical to only hire people you can trust. After all, if you meet your goals for growth, there will come a time when you have to lean on others. Develop a collaborative mindset now, even if you don’t have any employees yet. The best and happiest business owners know how to draw upon the talents and ideas of other people — not just themselves.

Business Owners Are Self-fulfilled

What is it about your business that inspires you and makes you feel good? When most people set out to start their own business, it often stems from a desire to find freedom and meaning in their work. The world has endless examples of people who quit their day jobs to follow their dream of owning their own business. There is often a desire for fulfillment that can’t be found working for others, whether they want to bring their grandmother’s pasta sauce recipe to market, create a product that makes people’s lives easier, provide an exceptional creative craft or deliver the best customer experience in the industry.

Before you start your small business, ask yourself why you’re starting it. What drives you? Why do you care for your potential customers? How will you make sure those qualities will be reflected in your product or service and brand identity? This is the best way to ensure you’ll love what you do for a living as a small business owner.

Business Owners Are Future-focused

Humans are natural goal-setters, as witnessed every New Year’s Day when we vow resolutions to make our lives better. However, by February, many of those resolutions get forgotten among the hustle of everyday life. In business, it can be easy for your big picture vision to get lost, because you constantly feel like you’re putting out fires or figuring out how to navigate the daily grind.

The truth is, you need to set short-term and long-term goals to be successful. Make sure you have a firm grip on the mechanics of your business so you can keep the wheels turning. But you also have to know where you’re going and create benchmarks for success. Set time aside each month to look at your key performance indicators and forecast your next month’s goals. Create a small business owner report that you look at each month to gauge your success. Taking time to step back from the daily grind to think big-picture about your business will help you practice looking forward and make it easier to set long-term goals for success.

Business Owners Have Natural Curiosity

The study also indicates that the best small business owners are naturally curious about the industry, product or service their business provides. The happiest business owners feel fundamentally interested in the “stuff” of what they do every day, to the point that they enjoy learning and getting smarter about their business just for its own sake. Sure, you want your business to be profitable, but that alone won’t define whether you are truly happy on a daily basis.

Ideally, you should care about the unique subject matter of your business. You should want to learn more about your industry. You should want to go deeper into the knowledge base and be passionate about sharing ideas and being a thought leader for your industry. This curiosity also applies to how you analyze other business owners, seeking to learn how they operate and achieve their goals. If you don’t already spend time researching your competitors or attending networking events and industry trade shows, it’s time to start.

Business Owners Are Tech-savvy

Let’s be real, we live in a tech-driven world where businesses are expected to have user-friendly websites and communicate with consumers 24/7. Whether your company is B2C or B2B, you will need to be on top of your technology game. Make sure you focus on being responsive to your customers and build sales funnels that flow easily into sales. You should also seek smart tech solutions for your internal business structure to make sure your employees are working efficiently, which can definitely increase morale and productivity. There is more powerful and affordable business technology available for small businesses today than ever before — knowing how to use it will make you happier and more successful.

Business Owners Are Action-oriented

The best leaders and business owners are always action-oriented. This means that they don’t sit and wait for things to happen; they plan and take proactive steps to move their business to the next level. Being action-oriented also entails having a thick skin and being resilient in the face of adversity. Action-oriented leaders don’t mope around and say “woe is me” when things go wrong. Instead, they harness adversity to seek different opinions and find the best solutions.

Now that you know these six key dimensions to being happier and more successful as a business owner, are you ready to set new goals to get your company to the next level? Take some time to review these dimensions so you can create a business and a life geared for long-lasting success. Figuring out how to be happy at work can be as simple as taking time to step back and analyze your small business. Once you add all of these dimensions into your business practices, you can get ready for greater success — and enjoy more satisfaction in your life and work.

For more information, visit the Incfile Blog.

About the author


Ben Gran

Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.