Entrepreneurship, if you believe what you read, has a dark side that is often left out of discussions. Entrepreneurs might be in control of their work schedules, but these lines are easily blurred and they tend to experience more negative emotions than non-entrepreneurs. Or so the media would have you believe…
New research, however, says that entrepreneurs are actually happier than their employed counterparts. A study from researchers at ETH Zurich found that entrepreneurs display more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions on social media.
The study looked at a sample of nearly 25,000 people, using Crunchbase to code whether someone was an entrepreneur or not. Twitter data was then used to study the displayed emotions.
The study also found that when tasks are highly relevant to an individual, or it is a complex task, emotions become more noticeable. Certainly, according to this analysis, despite the high uncertainty, financial pressures and work load, entrepreneurs seem to be happier. We spoke to some entrepreneurs to see if they agreed.
“I would say that it is more of a rollecoaster of emotions that impacts all aspects of your life, from social media to relation with your friends or partner,” Inigo Antolin, head of marketing at Appleyard Flowers and ex-entrepreneur, says. “Things can look bad now but be ok the next day after some positive news. But I would add that to launch your own project you need ambition and drive and you cannot do it without a positive attitude.”
Beki Stevenson of Berber Leather tends to agree that while entrepreneurs are expressing more happiness, they might feel differently inside. “I think social media is often a place to celebrate achievements and for entrepreneurs it’s a great way to mark milestones and successes,” she says. “I think entrepreneurs are more likely to be aware of the overall image they are portraying of themselves or their brand on social media and so may be more cautious in what they say to the world. The consequence of that being they portray an overall more positive emotional look on social media than they might actually be feeling.”
Sara Tomaszewska, founder and managing director of Little Media Bureau, adds: “Entrepreneurs tend to publish more motivational and inspiring content. Often they share their own journey and experiences on social media. I think It’s a form of support for themselves and their colleagues. In contrast to them, employees tend to celebrate weekends and the time of work. They love posts about Friday feeling and Monday blues. This group of people often cannot wait for the weekend and you can see it on social media channels.”
But she’s not convinced that anyone is painting a true picture on social media. “We want to be perceived as successful, funny and social. Entrepreneurs want to advertise that they are doing great and you cannot blame them. They cannot talk online about their mistakes and failures because that could give them a bad publicity. I also think that sharing good news and focusing on them can have a positive impact on the mind-set.”
Andy Curran, co-founder of Whaleslide, is inclined to agree. “As an entrepreneur, you have a responsibility to portray a positive image on social media as really, you’re still representing your ventures and are all too aware that investors and peers will be able to see what you post,” he says.
“Unless it’s a valid criticism of a product or system that’s broken, or a valid discussion, it’s usually best to play safe and concentrate on the positives about your life and business. People don’t want to invest in or associate themselves with negative people unless that person’s job is to criticise and scrutinise others.”
Adopted from virgin.com