Are you as happy as you could be with your business and in your life? Happiness is something people talk about, sometimes, fleetingly. It's looked at as something to have more of, certainly. But, how often do you hear the words happiness or joy in relation to business?
For most of the world those two things do not go together. However, a key ingredient to the secret sauce of a successful business is being happy!
When we were kids, most of us were happy. We didn't know there were all of these things to not be happy about. Then it starts; we were told we were too joyful and exuberant, and we begin to tone it down. We discover that laughing too loudly or too often meets with criticism and we begin to perceive all of the stress, concern and unhappiness around us and that becomes what is normal.
Have you ever noticed that when people are having a hard time, they receive empathy, kindness and comfort; but, when someone is visibly joyful the response is often, “what drug are they on?" Perhaps it's time to make happy the new normal. Happiness may not be what you think it is!
Often people think of happiness as an enthusiastic proclamation, raucous laughter, a giddiness; and, it can be expressed that way. Happiness is something we are; it is big and peaceful. Joy is the doing of happiness, an exuberant expression. Both are powerful and important to create a dynamic and fruitful business.
Why is happiness in business important?
For starters, money follows joy, joy does not follow money! This is contrary to how most people look at finances. The prevailing point of view is, “when I have money I will (fill in the blank)!" This creates a conditional relationship that you can't have happy and fully live your life until the money shows up. The catch here is that the focus on 'not enough money' will create more 'not enough'.
What we focus on we create, and happiness is a choice. If you make choices towards what is fulfilling, enjoyable and interesting to you a priority, then that becomes your focus. This sets you up to notice the possibilities for happiness that are waiting for you to choose them. The happier you are, the more enthusiasm and joy you will have with your business.
Keys for creating happiness and joy with your business
Cultivate a rich and satisfying life and living. Take a look at what really brings you happiness and joy and do more of it! When you are living a life you enjoy it is a compliment and boost to your business.
Have you fallen into the trap of making your business your life? Here is a different proposal. Let your business enhance your life and your life enhance your business. Neither one is an island separate from the other. Dissatisfaction in one area can filter into the other very quickly. Instead of making your business the source of your life, allow yourself the freedom to do what you enjoy in all areas. As you do, more money will show up.
Create your business happy: positioning yourself for the greatest possibility. Are you in a role that you enjoy? What parts of it do you have enthusiasm for? These are some questions to play with to get clarity about what will bring the most interest and enthusiasm to your work. Also, explore whether the way you work is compatible with who you are. If you are most productive in the morning, take advantage of that. If you do best with lots of time outside, allow yourself some breaks to take a quick walk or feel the sun on your face.
Start asking open-ended questions about what you really desire and be willing to shift things accordingly. It is critical to be open to change aspects of your business at any moment in order for it to thrive. Don't let boredom, dissatisfaction or frustration take root. Use the flexibility of having your own business to your advantage and allow yourself to shine.
Your point of view creates your reality. What points of view do you have that diminish your happiness? Be willing to look for the perspectives and attitudes about business and money you have. They are changeable, and you can undo the obstacles to having joy with your business.
Some prevailing beliefs are:
- Business is serious (don't have fun with it)
- You have to work hard to be successful
- Work is tedious
- Don't be too successful
Once you discover some of your points of view, flip them 180 degrees and explore if the opposite perspective would contribute to expanding your business and your pleasure with it. Business can be fun and you can have ease with it, even when challenges come up. It all depends on the point of view you choose to take.
Own your happy! Don't fall into the trap of being at the effect of others and their attitudes or emotions. Here is something you are not taught, but which can change everything.
You are aware, very aware. Have you ever been in a great mood then spent time with a friend who is cranky and all of a sudden you are cranky too? Guess what, you picked up on it, and suddenly it seemed like yours. When that happens, it is never yours. It is your awareness of someone or something else. Simply think, “return to sender," and tap back into what is true for you.
It goes against convention to be happy when others are not. And, let's face it, we are not living in a particularly happy world right now. Being happier than the people around us is a no-no. What if the kindest choice we can make, is to live the greatest life we can? It creates an invitation and shows people something else is possible. And, being happy is alluring; the happier you are the more people will be drawn to your business. Because it is so unique, you and your business will stand out.
Be You. This may sound obvious, after all, who else would you be? However, many entrepreneurs are trying to fit into some image they bought of what a business owner is supposed to be like. There are certain norms we accept as absolute without even realizing it. Don't buy anyone else's point of view or projections about how you should be, and how your business should run. Trust that you actually do know what choices you can make that will expand your joy and happiness.
Be willing to experiment and play with some changes. They don't have to be big ones to have a wonderful impact. When you are fully willing to be you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is a gift to you, your business and the world.
You started your business for a reason. There was some idea or vision for how you wanted it to be, and how you wanted to be with it. Most likely, being happier and enjoying your life more was a part of it. Are creating that fully? There is no time but the present, so make choices towards YOUR happy, whatever that looks like. It will only create something greater. And, don't judge yourself if everything doesn't go as planned or as quickly as you desire. Every choice will create an awareness of a different possibility. Choosing to be happy is having your own back in a way most people don't even realize is possible. If you keep at it, soon you will notice you have more enjoyment and satisfaction, and both you and your business will thrive.
If you are a woman, a person of color or LGBTIA+ identified and are a part of a start-up company, this is the competition for you. The SoGal Global Pitch Competition is being hosted in over 25 cities and will culminate in a final contest in Silicon Valley as well as a "3-day immersive educational bootcamp." This could be an unprecedented opportunity for you, your business and for the future of entrepreneurial diversification.
We all know how important diversity is for the world and for any business entity. But the statistics need to catch up with these ideals, because diversity isn't just a moral imperative it can also have an impact on the success and efficiency of a business. So if the ethics isn't enough to get you interested, maybe these statistics will.
- Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have above-average financial returns
- Bottom quartile companies (in both gender and racial diversity) are less likely to achieve even average returns
- In senior executive teams in the US for every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) rose 0.8%
Despite the fact that diversity is good for business, funding as a woman or a minority is incredibly challenging, but this competition could be someone's game-changing opportunity.
SoGal is a global education and empowerment platform focused on diverse investors and entrepreneurs. Their mission is "to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital." A tall order, given that 2.2% of VC funding went to women in 2018. Compounding the gender gap with race shows an even poorer picture: in the past decade only 0.1% (yes, that is a decimal) of funding was allocated to black women.
It is a straight up fact that companies with higher levels of diversity perform better, so why is it so hard for diverse start-ups to get funded? Oh right, racism, sexism, homophobia, implicit biases, inequality, classism... the list goes on, but thankfully that's where SoGal comes in! According to Kelley Elizabeth Henry, director of SoGal, "We're done waiting for these statistics to change; we're taking action to point investment capital toward these diverse-led startups. [...] We will change the future of entrepreneurship."
To enter this competition all you have to do is be a part of a pre-Series A startup (raised less than $3M) and have at least one "woman or diverse" founder. After you apply to pitch, you'll have to be able to make it to one of the "regional round location," which range from the more typical options of New York and Los Angeles to global locations such as Nairobi or Bangalore. And, if you're really playing to win, you better earmark February 28 to March 1 of next year, because that's when the top teams will be in San Francisco duking it out to the very end. And by "duking it out," I mean participating in "curated educational programming," talking to press and getting "facetime in front of top-tier investors." Though not everyone can win, the experience in itself looks to be well-worth the time it takes to fill out an application form and huff it to the nearest large city for the first round.