Entrepreneurs lead happier lives, global study finds

Latest study of 197,000 entrepreneurs finds high satisfaction levels, particularly in developing economies.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Individuals that are involved in building their own businesses tend to have higher rates of well-being than those are employed by others. In addition, more than one out of 10 founders and owners within advanced economies expect to significantly expand their businesses through new hiring.

That's one of the major takeaways from the latest edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an annual survey of entrepreneurs and experts that takes place across 70 countries. The survey found the link between entrepreneurial spirit and relative well-being across all the regions studied.

Of course, in some regions, people are self-employed out of necessity -- and these individuals tend to have lower rates of well-being. "Even though these results are exploratory, they show initial evidence that involvement in entrepreneurial activity can be linked to higher levels of subjective well-being," the study's authors, Drs. José Ernesto Amorós and Niels Bosma, conclude.

The study surveyed 197,000 entrepreneurs and 3,800 experts. The data shows that in several economies, between 10% and 30% of a country’s labor force could be considered early-stage entrepreneurs or business owners. This has implicatons for national policies, the authors note -- "if entrepreneurs generally experience higher levels of well-being, they can significantly raise aggregate well-being scores."

In addition, being an entrepreneur in and of itself -- never mind the financial rewards -- is a source of well-being and satisfaction, Amorós and Niels Bosma add. "Entrepreneurs experience 'procedural utility,' that the process of being an entrepreneur provides enjoyment over and above the material success of being an entrepreneur."

There are also implications for economic growth. For example, more than 10 percent of entrepreneurs within the EU and North America expect to eventually add 20 or more employees to their growing companies. Business founders and owners within developing economies don't have such aspirations for growth.

Interestingly, entrepreneurship overall is more highly valued in developing countries than in advanced industrial economies. The study bases perceptions on entrepreneurship on two factors: status accorded by society, and media treatment. "The current results show that people in the Sub-Saharan, Latin American and Caribbean, and Middle East/North African economies often believe that starting a business is considered a good career choice and that being a successful entrepreneur results in high status," Amorós and Bosma said. "Economies in the European Union, however, show lower percentages, particularly when it relates to media attention paid to entrepreneurs."

(Thumbnail photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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