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Why Business Owners are Happier than Employees


December 30, 2022


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Who has it better, the small business owner or the salaried employee? Both modes of work have pros and cons, but research suggests that there’s only one clear winner when it comes to happiness. Ute Stephan, professor of entrepreneurship at King’s College London, conducted a review of over 100 academic studies on entrepreneurship and overall well-being and found that “entrepreneurs are happier in terms of all indications of life and work satisfaction”.

But why is that so? Here we’ll take a look at what makes the entrepreneur happy in much greater amounts than average employees.

The Reasons for Business Owner Satisfaction

Autonomy

One of the most significant sources of business owner satisfaction is knowing you’re in control of your decision-making. Taking direction is one of the most stressful parts of being an employee, as you’ve got to rely on the order-giver being competent and making the calls for the right reasons. Even when they do so, it can still feel like you’d like to go about things a different way, creating workplace tension. As a business owner, you have the stress of trying to figure out what the best course of action is, but once you believe you have it, there’s nothing stopping you from going your own way. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s much easier to own the failure and learn from it if it was entirely your decision in the first place.

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Finding Meaning

A major study with 22,000 people from 16 countries investigated why business owner satisfaction was higher than that for salaried employees and found that the primary driver was being able to find meaning in the work they were doing. The idea that a person’s working life was contributing something to the world and actually making something happen, rather than just having a vague goal of increasing the revenues of your employer, gave entrepreneurs a lot of happiness even if, in many cases, they worked more hours and actually made less money. This ‘meaning’ also did not necessarily mean running a care home or a pet sanctuary. It was the same for working in home improvement or being an accountant, where the owner’s satisfaction was around providing a great service that people needed and benefitted from. 

Setting your Own Schedule

What would give you more happiness than knowing that whatever major life event happens in your family, you’re going to be there for it as you’re in charge of your work hours? It doesn’t even have to be major. Just getting to every Little League game or getting to walk your dog every evening at a reasonable time can contribute significantly to business owner satisfaction. If it means delaying a job, then so be it, but at least you know that that’s your decision either way and taking time off for something important or building a weekly schedule around what matters most to you won’t put your job at risk.

Direct Correlation Between Work and Earnings

Sure, you can ask for a raise or hit specific bonus targets, or even pull extra shifts to up your income, but as a salaried employee, there’s still a relatively hard ceiling for your earnings in the short term. However, a great source of business owner satisfaction is that if the opportunities are there for it, the more work you put in this week, month and year will show very clearly and quickly in your bank account. If something arises, like saving for a new house or even reinvesting in your business, the harder you work, the easier it’ll be to make that happen, which isn’t always such a straight line when earning a wage.

Deciding On the Use of Your Talents

Owning your own business means you’re possibly already doing something you love, but even if it’s not, you get to choose how you work and what area of the business you’re focusing on. It can be one of the greatest frustrations as an employee that you don’t get much say in the nature of your work or how it’s done, but to great business owner satisfaction, you have complete control over how you work and also what paths to explore as your business progresses.

Building Resilience

Though running your own business can be stressful, it also presents you with many situations where you can prove your own capacity to overcome challenges. This creates a special kind of business owner satisfaction where you can see a major obstacle ahead, or even several at the same time, but you’ve been there before, so even though things might get tough, you know you’ll get through, so the stress never turns to fear. This is a kind of resilience that can be developed outside of business, with veterans especially, but it’s something that particularly occurs with entrepreneurs due to the regularity of challenges they face.

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There are good sides and bad to business ownership and being a company employee. However, it would seem that what makes a happy business owner (autonomy, schedule control, having meaning in work) also leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction overall.

If you want to find out for yourself what business owner satisfaction feels like, why not consider opening a Screenmobile franchise? With a 99.5% renewal rate and working in a booming industry, it can be the perfect way to become a business owner yourself. To find out more, you can read about becoming a Screenmobile franchise here or talk to our team.


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    Top Home-Based & Mobile Franchises

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  • Ranked #100 in 2023
    Top Home-Based & Mobile Franchises

  • Ranked #23 in 2023
    Top Franchises for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

  • Ranked #64 in 2023
    Top Franchises for Less Than $150,000

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