But what makes them happiest?
A recent study by Vistaprint found that Australian business owners are more satisfied in their work, feel less stressed, and rate themselves higher on happiness surveys than regular full-time employees; and all without paid vacation or sick leave. So what gives?
The Australian SME owner will surpass fellow full-time employees by at least five hours per work week, it seems career satisfaction isn’t just a matter of ‘working less’, either.
According to the study, ‘working well’ might prove the more useful indicator. From the 500 Australian business owners surveyed, it’s clear that autonomy plays a major role in job satisfaction; ‘making one’s own decisions’ and ‘having a flexible schedule’ being the most important satisfaction factors for business owners.
Compare this with the 500 full-time employees who list ‘nice colleagues’ as the leading positive factor while ‘bad managers’ and ‘workplace politics’ as most likely to bring them down; each of these factors being (most often) outside of one’s personal control. In fact, those two factors are probably significant motivators for people starting businesses in the first place.
So what are business owners missing?
This isn’t to say that business owners couldn’t be happier, or that all business owners are equally happy. Across the board, lack of paid sick leave, paid holiday leave and unstable salaries are the most common qualms of the self-employed. In fact, the inability to just take leave when necessary is one of the biggest complaints about self-employment. Business doesn’t stop because you need a holiday, have the flu or some other disaster befalls you and that can grind you down. Finding ways to schedule yourself a break is critical.
And when it comes to which business owners are happiest among fellow business owning peers, there are two more important factors to consider:
1) The success of your business; and
2) The ability to trust your decisions.
When asked what would most boost their happiness, a surprising number of SME owners responded with ‘learning how to trust themselves’. Despite the fact that, in many cases, starting your own business can be rather like taking one giant trust step, business owners still feel that they lack self-confidence when it comes to making big decisions.
So, how do you better trust yourself as a business owner?
Consider the times when it is easiest to trust yourself, then go about replicating that decision-making environment.
You may disagree, but I will venture to say that it’s easiest to make a decision when you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
This is when;
- you have real numbers to back up your decision,
- you have done your research,
- your accounts are in order and
- you can see things as they stand in the bigger picture.
When you have all those ducks in a row, pulling the trigger on a decision is almost a formality.
Of course, it’s not often that we can have everything lined up perfectly, but the point is that the more control you have over the details, the more confident you will feel in making a decision. This is the best way to trust yourself as a business owner, and (ironically) it often requires that you place your trust in someone else; to help you better keep track of things and to plan for possible outcomes.
Good advice from a trusted professional and good help, either from your internal (staff) or external (advisors, outsourced helpers) teams can be enough to check both of the happiness boxes listed above.
And once you can do that, the flow on effects mean you’re more likely to trust your business decisions (since they’ll be well-informed decisions), and thereby giving your business the greatest opportunity for success (the other, less discussed indicator of a business owner’s happiness).
It’s fantastic to see business owners being rewarded for the risks they take – not just as a matter of finance, but as a source of well-being.
However, it is clear that not all business owners are created equal, and that the keys to happiness often involve a mixture of trust, success and good decisions – oh and good help.
If you’re looking for professional advice to help you build financial systems and processes to ensure you’ve got the best decision-making information always to hand, we’d be delighted to talk you. You can give us a call on 02 6023 1700 or drop us a note via the form below
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If you've got financial or business questions, or you just want to run something by us, we'd be delighted to really talk to you – in person, over the phone - call us on 02 6023 1700 - or you can use the form below and we'll get back to you.
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