Is your job making you miserable? Based on a sweeping new global report, starting your own business might just be a ticket to a more satisfying life.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 Global Report, prepared by Babson College and other universities, underlines something that I’ve noticed in my own reporting for years: Entrepreneurs really are happier than other people. And in innovation-driven economies like the U.S., women entrepreneurs are even happier than their male counterparts.
Whether they run early-stage startups or established businesses, business owners in all regions rated their own well being higher than counterparts who didn’t own a business. As you might expect, those in established businesses reported higher levels of well-being than those in startups, who are still contending with struggles like finding seed money and customers.
Given that researchers spoke with more than 197,000 people in 70 economies in 2013 for the GEM report, the findings are significant.
Some interesting takeaways:
* North American and Latin American entrepreneurs rated their well-being the highest, while those in Sub-Saharan Africa, where conditions are tougher for entrepreneurs, ranked theirs the lowest
* Other hot spots for entrepreneurial well-being are the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Singapore.
* Entrepreneurs in economies where people tend to go into business to pursue an opportunity tend to rate their well-being higher than those in necessity-driven economies, where people start businesses because there are few other options for economic survival.
The researchers asked both business owners and individuals who were not involved in entrepreneurship to rate their lives based on these five statements, borrowed from the Satisfaction With Life Scale originally published in the Journal of Personality Assessment.
1. In most ways, my life is close to my ideal.
2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. I am satisfied with my life.
4. So far I have obtained the important things I want in life.
5. If I could live my life again, I would not change anything.
Researchers also asked participants in 54 countries about their work-life balance–and, here, too, entrepreneurs rated their lives more positively than people who aren’t running startups or established firms. Respondents to the survey were asked to react to these statements:
1. In my country, the general conditions (economic, social, political, cultural) allow people to perfectly harmonize personal and working (professional/labor) life.
2. In my country, existing regulations allow people to perfectly harmonize personal and working (professional/labor) life.
3. In my country, entrepreneurs are more satisﬁed with their working (professional/labor) life than non-entrepreneurs.
4. In my country, entrepreneurs are more satisﬁed with their personal life than non-entrepreneurs.
The research was very preliminary, so we have yet to learn more about the reasons entrepreneurs are more satisfied with their lives than others or why their work-life balance is better.
Undoubtedly, running a business, especially in today’s economy, is not easy and comes with a lot of stress. And most of the entrepreneurs I talk with say that they work long hours, sometimes even longer than in previous jobs they’ve had.
I suspect that what many entrepreneurs enjoy is the greater control and autonomy they have over their professional lives in self-employment. It’s one thing to work 10 hours a day when you have to start work at 9 am in a cubicle that is 90-minute commute from your home. It’s quite a different one when you can decide that you’ll only work the hours when you are most productive, and you can work anywhere you want. It’s also very different to choose to work with a particular customer because it will help your business grow than to have a project “land” in your inbox, without your input as to whether it is worthwhile to do.
In future years, we’ll likely learn more about the “whys” behind the research. Meanwhile, the survey does provide clear evidence that there are big rewards to taking charge of your own economic fate through entrepreneurship. Owning a business isn’t right for everyone, but for many, it does seem to be a path to a happier, more well-balanced life.
This article was written by Elaine Pofeldt from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.