Many people choose to become entrepreneurs because they seek more fulfilling work. They might be unhappy with the traditional daily grind of office work and desperate for more control over their daily tasks, or driven to create something with meaning. Whatever the case, entrepreneurs generally go into business with the expectation that entrepreneurship is going to make them happier.
While new entrepreneurs generally do find it fulfilling, there’s also an unfortunate opportunity for disillusionment. The rigors and challenges of entrepreneurship can wear on you over time, compromising your relationships and getting in the way of your happiness. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Related: 7 Essential Habits of Happier People
There are several environmental and behavioral changes you can make to stave off dissatisfaction and stay happy as an entrepreneur:
1. Create your ideal environment.
This is your chance to forge your own position within the company. You’re the boss. You make the rules. You set the hours. Take care to construct an environment that’s going to make you happy, and if you find that environment isn’t cutting it, don’t be afraid to change it.
You might find that having an open office with no walls or cubicles is what you need to feel happy at work. You might find that working from home three days a week is what you need to be happy. Experiment with different environments and atmospheres until you find one that really works, and stick with it.
2. Take breaks.
As an entrepreneur, you’re in charge of how much or how little you work. That sounds appealing, but there’s a drawback: most entrepreneurs are so driven to see their ideas come to fruition that they never want to stop working. At the risk of their physical and mental health, they’ll work 100 hour weeks, sleep overnight at the office, and generally do whatever it takes to get more and more tasks completed.
Wanting to work hard is an admirable and necessary mentality for entrepreneurs, but everyone has a limit. Don’t be afraid to take breaks -- whether that’s a 10-minute breather during the workday or a week-long vacation in the summer.
3. Prioritize your family.
No matter how much you want your business to succeed, your family has to come first. These are the people who love you unconditionally. They are the people who were there for you long before you started this business, and they’ll be there for you long after you’re done with it.
Time is a precious commodity, and you don’t want to spend so much time working that you forget about the people most important to you. Rearrange your working schedule, take a day off and do whatever else it takes to spend quality time with your family. You won’t regret it.
4. Hire people you can count on.
In your business, you’ll be the one calling the shots, but your people will be the ones doing the actual work. Make sure you fill your business with people you can trust to do great work, and people you genuinely enjoy being around. If your office is filled with enjoyable, hardworking people, you’ll be far less stressed about whether your business has the potential to make it -- and it will be easier for you to take breaks as necessary.
5. Accept failures.
Failure is a part of doing business, and when you experience it, it sucks. There’s nothing that can make it better in that moment. But once you experience a failure, no matter how big or how small, you have a key opportunity: You can choose to dwell in that failure and let it overcome you or you can accept it and move on. If you want to stay happy for as long as possible in the world of entrepreneurship, you’ll need to learn how to accept failure and move past it.
6. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Saying no is much harder than it seems, especially when you’re in a decision-making position for the first time in your career. When a client demands a near-impossible deadline, you may feel obliged to say yes to keep their business. When an employee asks for a raise, you may say yes for fear of losing them. Think carefully about each situation, and how it will affect you as well as your business. Don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t make sense to say yes.
Remember, entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a journey. If you want to be happy throughout your course of business ownership, you’ll have to work to achieve that happiness. You’re in control, so don’t be afraid to make the changes you need to make to be satisfied. The only thing that can get in the way of your satisfaction is your willingness to change or lack thereof.