The link between entrepreneurship and unhappiness

Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check, discusses the link between unhappiness and entrepreneurship.

Company Check is the largest source of data on UK companies, attracting over 2 million visitors every month

We often talk about the importance of being happy. But rarely do we analyse the true impact of happiness on business.

We know it’s important to be happy. It seems initiatives to make employees happy are on the rise too, with businesses sharing photos of staff social events and listing incentives such as ‘regular team lunches’ as benefits in their job advertisements.

Not everyone in business is happy though and, in our latest research, we uncovered an interesting trend which suggests that entrepreneurship is, in fact, born of unhappiness.

The data, which can be seen in full here and which cross-checked firms’ financial data from Company Check with happiness ratings from Rightmove’s recent ‘Happy at Home’ report, found there was a correlation between unhappiness and entrepreneurship, with the unhappiest areas of the country having the highest instances of new business incorporation in 2014.

Barking and Dagenham, the least happy place in the UK according to Rightmove’s study of 25,000 people, saw 21,400 new companies incorporated last year, the second highest of all the 130 towns and cities surveyed.

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Eight of the top-10 places for new business figures were in the bottom half for happiness, while only one place out of the happiest 50, Bristol, made it into the top-10 for number of new businesses.

The UK’s happiest place, Harrogate, ranked 76th and was one of 29 of the top 50 places for happiness to rank in the bottom half for entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is an essential part of the UK’s economy, with well over 5 million new businesses filing accounts with Companies House in 2014 alone. The correlation between happiness and entrepreneurship highlighted in this research cannot explain cause and effect, but it wouldn’t surprise me if entrepreneurship was, at least in part, a result of dissatisfaction.

The data suggests that the less happy someone is, the more likely they are to set up their own business. I started my first company because I didn’t agree with how other people ran their businesses and wanted to do it my way. As business people, we shouldn’t be afraid to say that we’re unhappy with how things are and look to improve them.

Further reading: Entrepreneur takes on payday ‘monsters’

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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