The Pursuit of Happiness – Starting Up Your Own Business

Written By Karen Riddick from Second Nature Online (Ethically sourced furniture, furnishings and gifts) based in Dumfries and Galloway.

Karen will be speaking at the Amazon Academy Trading Online event at Dumfries and Galloway Business Week which is a series of events and workshops throughout Dumfries and Galloway.

Dumfries and Galloway Business Week runs from the 1st to the 5th of October 2018


If you ask someone what they most want from life, there’s a good chance that ‘being happy’ will be top of their list. Of course, there are many factors which influence our capacity for happiness, but employment choices will always be a major contributor. Why? Well, for a start, we spend a reported one third of our lives ‘at work’. And if we are happy in our jobs, then it surely bodes well for other aspects of our life. So, here’s the big question. Are we more content when we work for other people – or when we work for ourselves?

Let’s ponder that for a minute. Working for someone else often brings regular holidays, limited responsibility and guaranteed income. Working for ourselves often brings long hours, less income and nobody to help in a crisis. On paper, sticking to paid employment might look like the sensible option – but in reality, it is the self-employed who report higher levels of happiness and job satisfaction. If you are starting or evolving your own business, then don’t be afraid to put the following happy thoughts into the equation.

Set Yourself Free

People are happiest when they live by their own values and choices. Being self-employed offers this sort of freedom. And by that, I don’t just mean freedom to wear jeans to work! This is more about how to mould our businesses so that they fit around our lifestyle and principles. We can choose recycled packaging even if it costs more; or ditch a task if we think it’s pointless. We can revel in the autonomy and confidence of our own decisions. There are no personal development boundaries when we start our own company. Ultimately, we are more likely to discover untapped skills and talents which will boost our business – and our happiness.

Fit for Purpose

For most of us, being happy is reliant on having a sense of value and purpose to our day. In this context, employment choices play a fundamental role. When we run our own business, we have an absolute sense of purpose and reward for effort. Not only that, but we are in control. We can change it.

The chances are that, when self-employed, we will be interested in our tasks; we will be motivated and engaged in our goals. We might earn less money, but we might earn more. Either way, we’re less likely to care. We may work longer hours, but it won’t always feel like it. Instead of differentiating between ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ activities, we need only focus on how that activity makes us feel. Who’s to say that aspects of our own business can’t be just as enjoyable as watching the entire box set of Friends.

Positive Relationships

The biggest influence on our happiness is, arguably, the presence of positive relationships with our friends, families and acquaintances. Time at work is bound to eat into time spent with loved ones but starting our own business can work the other way too. It can allow us to work at home or to work with friends and other family members. Being our own boss might mean that caring for older relatives or young children is easier to manage.

But regardless of personal circumstances, self-employment never needs to be an isolating move. It’s more likely that we will slot into a dynamic environment in which customers, suppliers and service providers become the people we enjoy interacting with. And of course, once we are part of our local business community, there will always be someone to talk to – and talking makes most people happy!

What Comes First – A Happy Chicken or a Happy Egg?

On a final note, let’s consider this ‘chicken or egg’ scenario. Richard Branson is an obvious source of business inspiration quotes but there is something very personal and notable about his recently published ‘Letter to a Stranger’. In it, he talks about the relationship between success and happiness.

Specifically, he tells us that it is not success which brought him happiness; but happiness which brought him success. He elaborates further on this, but his main message is clear. When we are happy, we are more likely to be rational and to have a clear head. We are more likely to make the right decisions, do the right things and to forge great connections with others. It’s a cheery thought indeed.

During Dumfries & Galloway Business Week, there will be much discussion about starting and running your own business. There are many great reasons to take up self-employment but ‘being happy’ is hopefully one of them.


Karen Riddick is a light hearted observer, business-woman and enthusiastic writer from Dumfries.

She has gone from working 9-5 to building a successful online business which now fulfils over 1,200 orders per month. Karen shares her real life experiences in business.

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