A thought-provoking take on the relationship between entrepreneurship and well-being

David Ideström
Aug 31, 2016 · 2 min read

Did you know that entrepreneurs are happier than others? This is suggested in a recent study in a dissertation from the Stockholm School of Economics, a study which may be interesting for anyone interested in entrepreneurship or well-being.

Well-being was in this study measured by asking about respondents’ life satisfaction, happiness and vitality. The author looked at the difference in well-being between a group engaged in entrepreneurship and a group with non-entrepreneurial employment, while seeking to rule out the possibility that the results were dependent on other factors.

All in all, while the study may not be highly robust and conclusive, the results suggest that there is a significant and meaningful difference between the groups in terms of their well-being, that is, entrepreneurs are happier than those with a non-entrepreneurial employment.

“Active engagement in entrepreneurial activities — relative to engagement in non-entrepreneurial employment — pays off in terms of well-being.”

But why is this then, why are entrepreneurs seemingly happier than others? The author seeks to explain the result with the entrepreneur’s experience of autonomy, competence and relatedness; meaning that entrepreneurs more than others are able to feel free of coercion in their behaviour, feel effective and competent, and are able to interact in a meaningful way with others. This would be possible since an entrepreneur more than others have the opportunity to shape their work conditions, and hence to organize their work so as to create something that is meaningful to them.

“The well-being gains that result from entrepreneurial activities are largely due to entrepreneurs’ freedom and opportunity to exercise their agency, enhance their competence, and, perhaps most importantly, relate to others in meaningful ways and on their own terms.”

Also, people pursue entrepreneurship for a myriad of reasons, but the dissertation showed in a separate study that when a venture is motivated by intrinsic pursuits such as personal growth, community contribution or the development of relationships, then well-being is significantly and meaningfully higher.

So there could be potential in entrepreneurial pursuits, and especially so in intrinsically motivated ventures. At best, entrepreneurship presents a multitude of options to live a meaningful life.


Source/further reading:

  • Shir, Institutionen för Företagande och Ledning & Handelshögskolan i Stockholm 2015, Entrepreneurial Well-Being: The Payoff Structure of Business Creation.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

David Ideström

Written by

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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