Be Happy: Be Your Own Boss

At last, the secret to happiness has been discovered: be a small business owner. A survey conducted by TD Bank reveals that 69 percent of American small business owners polled said they would describe themselves as, “very happy.” In addition, 61 percent said they think they are happier than their peers. Moreover, the stress of running a business during the worst economy since the Great Depression has not turned these happy entrepreneurs off to the advantages of capitalism, since 87 percent say in the next five years, they are just as likely to still be operating their own companies.

The poll, released as part of the TD Small Business Happiness Index, looked into the behaviors and attitudes of North American small business people in a dozen metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada. Those surveyed were even happier when contemplating the alternative, since 90 percent thought they would be more content owning a business than working for someone else. The survey also found a correlation between doing what you love and spending a lot of time doing it. The majority of small business owners surveyed work more than 50 hours a week, and 39 percent work more than 60 hours weekly.

Why are these small business owners so glad to be their own bosses? Of all those polled, 97 percent said they are motivated by a sense of pride and accomplishment, while 94 percent valued a strong personal connection to their employees. These business owners have firm ideas of the advantages and disadvantages of the path they have chosen. Their top three benefits, according to the study: 1) being their own boss, 2) setting their own schedule, and 3) being in control or being able to make their own decisions. And their top three challenges: 1) managing budgets and cash flow, 2) the responsibilities, risks and stress associated with owning their companies, and 3) the long hours and limited time off.

The study also found that Americans are more content with their lot in life than Canadians. Those working north of the border were slightly less happy, and fewer thought they would be in business in five years. Both are working the same hours, on average, but Canadians say they are having a harder time managing their workforces.

The TD Small Business Happiness Index looked at the reported activities and feelings of small business owners in 12 North American metro areas. Their companies employed five to 50 people. The research was conducted by Environics Research and consisted of a poll of 1,213 small business owners in North America in May and June of 2010, including 502 U.S. small business people.