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Startups choosing happiness before profits

15 Jan 2013 | Laurence McCahill

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Last year saw a huge surge in startup businesses across the UK. The Startup Britain campaign estimated 460,000 businesses were founded in the last 12 months. With only 25% of all startups continuing business a year after they've launched, the question on every budding entrepreneur's lips is "what's the secret to building a successful company?".

Well, we believe we have the answer...  Zappos are doing it. Southwest Airlines are doing it, and more and more startup businesses are following suit:

They're making happiness their business model. 

Yes, you heard that right.

There's a new breed of entrepreneur choosing happiness before profits. But what's remarkable is how, in making this choice, these companies are becoming highly profitable. By building a strong company culture they've created happy teams, happy customers and a happy balance sheet! Also, working with people you like on a business you believe in, means everyone can work together towards a common, meaningful goal. 

Study after study proves that happy teams are more productive and effective (and hence make more money).  Just think about it for a second. Happy employees are nicer to be around, they like making their customers happy, and therefore work harder to achieve that. Happy customers spend more money, are more loyal to a brand and like spreading the word to their friends and family. It's a marketing plan in itself.

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So who's on board the happy bus?

As well as a variety of diverse businesses (Moo.com, Zappos, Innocent Drinks, etc) we're seeing a movement of individuals that want to start businesses firstly as a lifestyle choice, and secondly to make money. Small business owners are choosing to do things differently for various reasons that may include:

  • Spending more time doing what they love.
  • Spending more time with who they love (family, friends)
  • Flexibility to make better life choices (so they can make a difference in the world)
  • The ability in choosing the environment they work in, with people they like.

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How can you take action?

Here at The Happy Startup School HQ we're at the early stages of developing something new, that brings in the leading minds from the following disciplines to help entrepreneurs build profitable businesses through happy teams, customers and partners:

  • Lifestyle design
  • Branding
  • Lean startup
  • Customer experience
  • Company culture

Whilst building our own business and working with dozens of entrepreneurs, we've learnt a little along the way and believe in the following 3-step process to building a happy startup:

1) Define what success looks like to you

If you're like many of the people stuck in a dead-end corporate job you hate, you're probably thinking about what success looks like to you. And it's probably not where you are now. Really spend time thinking about what your end goal is. Try to focus on the life you want, not the numbers you need (that will come). Happiness should be your starting point for success.

2) Define your passion and purpose

At The Happy Startup School, we believe passion trumps any kind of entrepreneurial experience. Defining your passion is what will drive you to succeed, after all if you're not passionate about your business why should anyone else be? This passion will help you define your business purpose and help people rally around your cause. Rather than saving 'the real you' for the margins of life, you'll be living a 7 day weekend! It will create a contagiously happy environment for the people around you, with a positive effect on both productivity and profits.

3) Explore ideas and a business model that works for you

Boldly go where no one has gone before. There are hundreds of challenges yet to solve and you have the exciting opportunity to create a business around your purpose. It's just a matter of testing different ideas and creating some 'planned serendipity'. By exploring different business models and niches around your passion, we firmly believe you'll make your own luck.

If you've read this and you're one of those 460,000 startups founded in the UK last year (or are looking to break out on your own in 2013), remember you're in the driving seat. Take control of your life and help give business a better name. Happy startups means a happier world - something we all believe in.

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Laurence McCahill is founder of The Happy Startup School. If you're a UK-based startup and would like to be part of their initial intake then apply here

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