What makes me happy as an entrepreneur is being on the edge, creating insurgency and making mischief. Since we launched our own company, happiness isn’t hard to come by – you get to do the work you love and swear as much as you like.
However, if you’re lucky enough to work in an industry you care about, then I would argue it’s your duty to make happiness a core objective. Working in the creative industry isn’t saving lives; defending bold creative work with clients is not the same as having someone on the table with their rib cage open, we’re not doctors, teachers or firefighters – but we can do and should do important work. It’s vital that we have a genuine passion for what we do; and this is something entrepreneurs everywhere can take control of.
What is it that makes you happy?
I’m not endorsing monthly yoga-retreats, tree hugging or basket weaving, but there is something powerful in the idea that we can be the master of our own destiny. Happiness is within your control, but you need to find out, first and foremost, what it is that makes you happy. At DUKE, we’ve taken an oath of self-deprecation, a sense of humour and not really giving a fuck about what our competitors think, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect those who are at the top of their game, you should. But caring what they think won’t make a blind bit of difference to your success. This not only helps make us happier day-to-day, but it also filters down to the work we create.
For others, it may be that they want to be able to spend more time on their passion projects, or have a better work life balance. If you allow your staff to engage in those areas too, it will eventually become part of the overall company culture. Whether it’s supporting your account manager’s ambition to be food vlogger, or making company perks and away days available to the wider family - you need to incorporate it into your core business objectives.
You need the right people
I’m in the fortunate position that I can choose who I surround both myself, and my business with; which is a game changer for the way I feel on my morning commute. Hire the people that not only believe in your mission, but can help keep it thriving and challenge you to make it better. We make sure that we surround ourselves with the people we think are brilliant and we actually want to spend time with. If we want to create bold work, then we need to be near people who aren’t afraid to shout from the rooftops and sometimes ruffle a few feathers, delivering bold work for clients shouldn’t be easy and sometimes it’s uncomfortable. When I find people who fit the bill, there’s a smile on my face and a reassurance I’ve done the right thing – for me, and for everyone else in the company.
You have the power to shape what you do and who you are. Don’t ruin it by hiring someone talented that just isn’t the right fit, I know from previous experience, chemistry is mission critical to any business success. Remember, for many positions you can train the right person to do the job, but you can’t train someone out of being annoying, miserable or not committed.
You also need the right clients…
If most of us are honest, the reason we stopped working in bigger agencies is because we wanted to do things a bit differently. Be bold, and work with brands and companies who don’t make you want to quit. As a small business, it’s easy to get sucked into working with anyone, but we’ve vowed to only work with brands, clients and people we like and trust, that allow us to create the work that makes us happy.
Stick with it. There is an increasing appetite for businesses to interact and work with people who they actually enjoy working with. Some companies love working with challenger brands, FTSE 100 companies, or ethical brands; we just want to create great work for people we like and respect. Whatever it is, stay true to your ambition and don’t let fear blind you.
If you want to be happy at work, put it at the heart of your business. You didn’t come this far to look in the mirror and see your old boss, you got here by being brave, bold and ambitious. Don’t stop now – there’s so much to smile about, and when it does get tough, keep the thought of ‘I’m in control of what I do’, front and centre.