Are You a Happy Entrepreneur?

Happy business woman
Entrepreneurs are often touted as one of the most fulfilled career paths in the world. A question to ponder: As an entrepreneur, are you happy with your achievements? Are you happy with your life?

The pursuit of happiness – this must be the endeavour of most people in the world. I’m not sure I can find a person who doesn’t want to be happy. I have a big question that fits both new entrepreneurs and well-seasoned ones, though: Are you a happy entrepreneur?

What is happiness, exactly?

Of course, some of you might ask me back: What’s happiness, anyway? Well, there are certainly lots of things that can define an entrepreneur’s happiness, such as:

  • Financially independent (and financially free) – Not worrying about the availability of money is what many people pursuing for a life time.
  • Successful business (and investment) – Ah, it seems like heaven when your business is run like a well-oiled machine while you are enjoying your free time traveling the world.
  • All-you-can-enjoy quality family time – You can watch your kids grow in “real-time.” You can hang out with your spouse, even going for the second (or third?) honeymoon. And many more.
  • You can pursue your dream – Are you dreaming of traveling around the world? Are you dreaming of setting up your own charity? Are you dreaming of being an angel investor, helping young entrepreneurs to succeed?

But then, come to think of it, after you have achieved all that, will you become the happiest person on earth? Not quite.

Here’s what I’ve found so far: Unfortunately, many business people today are not happy – They seem happy, but the truth is, they are not that happy with their lives. It seems that achievements can’t make them happy entrepreneurs, most likely, for one reason: Being successful entrepreneurs present them with new challenges.

Running a successful business means competitors are learning what you are doing and trying their best to ‘destroy’ you. Running a big business means the tax people will keep their eyes on you – one, single slump will get your business into trouble. Owning a multi-million-dollar business surrounds you with ‘nice’ people – some are genuinely nice, while many are trying to benefit (or ‘steal’) from you. What’s more, success can backfire you and your family – e.g. having spoiled children (not many can do what Virgins’ Richard Branson teaches to his children – Instead doing air travel with his private jet, they travel on Economy class.)

What’s wrong with us?

Most (if not all) of us dream big. Dream big is great, but it can backfire if not followed with the right mindset and attitude.

Many entrepreneurs are not happy because they can’t achieve what they have targeted themselves to achieve. This in itself is a problem – You can never be happy chasing targets (or ‘carrots on a stick’) if you think you will be happy if you achieve them.

A couple of examples to make my point:

Mr. A targets himself to be financially independent before 50. He finally becomes financially independent on 55. Mr. A is unhappy and unsatisfied of his life.

Mrs. B grows her business to go over $20 million in profits. She is unhappy because she is targeting for $30 million in profits for the same fiscal year. Last year, Mrs. B’s business profits at $15 million.

From the examples above, we can see that both entrepreneurs achieve exceptional results, both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, wrong mindset can lead both to be unhappy and under-achieved.

I have enough mentors telling me this, so that I can probably guarantee the accuracy: You must understand that “I will be happy if I can get X, no less”-mindset can lead your life to become an unhappy life, that will eventually affect your business and personal finance.

Believe me, even if you have achieved all your “carrots” (a.k.a. something that motivates you to do something) you will still be unhappy. Why? Because in each milestone you pass, you will be presented with new challenges to face. Fail to respond to the challenges with the right ways will make your life, well, unhappy.

Do you know what could be the problem of a very successful entrepreneur? Boredom. When you have a “Midas’ touch” – changing everything you touch into gold – you will quickly becoming bored. Boredom can make you depressed, and depressed people are obviously unhappy people.

What to do now?

You see, I like to recommend people around me to enjoy their life and be happy – a cliche, really, but it’s powerful. Why? Because, to me, once you are able to enjoy your life and be happy no matter what’s in front of you, you can almost do anything.

To add, being happy is not about achieving all your endeavours successfully, thinking that when you reach all that, you will be happy. Most of the cases, you can enjoy your “mini achievements” throughout your life, hopping from one milestone to another, while enjoying every bit of it. Cherish every failure, and enjoy every success today, as tomorrow’s challenges (and worries) are for tomorrow.

Even if you are haunted by a declining business today or an ailing personal finance, take heed – Instead of burying your head in the sand, you should stand up and get ready for the high tide. Let me tell you this: People are at their best if they are faced with “life-threatening” challenges – this sparks “adrenalin rush” in you so that you are forced to think faster and take higher risk – and surprisingly, you can do things amazingly effective and efficient. I know what I’m talking about – I’ve been there: Near personal bankruptcy due to the loss of 2 franchise units, change direction, and “almost there” in online business and investing.

So, instead of ranting about a customer stealing stuffs from your retail store, you should be thankful you find a loophole to fix in your store’s security measures. Instead of looking at other entrepreneurs, saying “I wish I could be them,” you should say “I hope I can be happy being me.” Instead of blaming the recession for losing your business, you should be thankful to be in a situation where you have to learn from your mistakes and seek better ways to start anew, with higher possibility for success.

All in all, the newly acquired skills, experience, mindset and attitude will better-equip you to achieve the next milestones – and to be a happy entrepreneur.

Any thoughts to share? Please do so by commenting on this article.

Ivan Widjaya
A happy entrepreneur