Happy EntrepreneurBeing a business owner is an incredible choice. It is thrilling to build a company, shape the future, fuel economic growth, sell your offerings to thrilled customers, and create a team of remarkable people. It can also be demanding, overwhelming, frustrating, and very stressful. To survive for the long haul as an entrepreneur, it’s essential that you create a work-life balance and make an intentional choice to be happy.

Given how much time we spend running our company, it makes sense to create a place that delights you. Here are my top 10 secrets to happiness as an entrepreneur:

1. Don’t compare yourself to other entrepreneurs
Everybody starts out in a different place with a different amount of knowledge they bring to the table. And, each person is headed on their own journey. You have NO idea what someone’s background might be, or what their struggles have been. Their company sells different products, attracts different people, and has different strengths and weaknesses than yours. Making comparisons is a complete waste of your time.

2. Accept that there will always be things you cannot control
Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. And there are factors that will take you into the dip that are beyond your control. The economy, trends, outside influences on client companies, shifts in your employees’ lives, competitive influences, and many more pressures will impact your company. Keep your focus on those things that you actually control: 1) your thoughts, 2) your (re)actions, and 3) your words.

3. Create a circle of sympathetic entrepreneurs
Running a business can be a lonely job. Even the people who love you the most – your spouse/partner and family – may not understand how you are thinking or what you are facing. Nobody gets the crazy mind and life of an entrepreneur like another entrepreneur. Gather a group of people who are in the same boat and can offer you advice, commiserate with you, point out pitfalls ahead of time, and be a sounding board. Plus, your group of like-minded entrepreneurs are the best company over beer while you espouse your next great idea to “take over the world.”

4. Be willing to say “no”
While growing your company might sometimes seem like the most important thing in your world, never forget that the CEO (aka you) is its most important asset. You have a body and spirit to take care of by eating well, exercising, spending time with your family, getting outside, and taking vacations. So, be willing to say “no” sometimes so you can take care of yourself. Remember, you want to be able to keep this up for years to come. Take care of you so you can take care of your company.

5. Don’t overcommit
Yes, you have aggressive growth goals and a big vision you have to meet. It’s a wonderful quality to be enthusiastic and willing to take on big projects. But, pace yourself and your people. Growing your company is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t stretch yourself or your team to the breaking point. Overshooting capacity and uncontrolled growth is one of the top 10 reasons why businesses fail. Avoid being a statistic by making the commitment to grow gracefully.

6. Dump the drama
Don’t waste precious energy on gossip or complaining. Before you begin to tell a story about another person or company, ask yourself: 1) Does this foster our growth? 2) Am I being kind? 3) Is there a way I could express gratitude or positivity right now? and 4) Would I want somebody talking about me in this way? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, stop immediately and then go do something that makes you feel good instead. Call a client to see how they are doing, take an employee out to lunch, or go out for a coffee with an entrepreneur friend.

7. Appreciate others, often
Take the time to say “thank you” every day. You can thank your family, your team, your clients, and your business friends. Set aside time each week to hand write thank-you cards to people who have helped you. Do something surprising and sweet for someone who isn’t expecting it. Make it a habit when you wake up to think about what you are thankful for, as well as a few minutes before you go to sleep. When you practice gratitude on an everyday basis, you cultivate a chronic state of happiness.

8. Unplug
As an entrepreneur, you are constantly connected to your smart phone, laptop, tablet, desktop computer, etc.. You are bombarded by emails, social media, blog posts, videos, Tweets, and dings. And sometimes the “wired world” feels like it’s your whole world. It’s not. Set aside your devices and carve out quality time with the people that really matter to you. Take the time to read a real book or take a walk in nature. Unplug and relax.

9. Lighten up and laugh more
Running our business can be so heavy at times, causing stress, heartburn, and sleepless nights over cash flow issues, a troublesome employee, or something that didn’t go well with a client. Try to lighten up. In some ways, many of the situations in our company are absurdly comedic. Look at events with a fresh lens and simply laugh away the stress. When we laugh more, even the worst scenarios get a little lighter and less worrisome. Sometimes a lighter view can even help us get enough distance to find a better solution. Every day, find more reasons to smile.

10. Do not hang on to “bad apples”
Keeping “bad apples” on your team poisons your other employees’ ability to excel. Let’s face it – you’ve already identified those individuals and know it’s time to let them go. The only reason you are hanging on to them is because you feel emotionally attached. I’ve never had a business owner say to me, “Wow, I really fired that person too fast!” By letting them go, you allow your top performers to accelerate their game with no one to hold them back. As a result, you’ll see an exponential growth in productivity and profit. Plus, your company will just be a nicer place to go to work each day.

Nobody is in charge of your happiness, except you
Yes, there are some days that are just downright abysmal. But even on the bad days, you have a lot of choices about your attitude, approach, feelings, and actions. You can make choices about how you handle situations.

And luckily most days are good and some are downright amazing! Take time to celebrate the wins and enjoy what you are building. You are an entrepreneur and that right there is something to be thrilled about. Committing to the above actions can help you become happier, healthier, and more successful as an entrepreneur and in your everyday life.

What other tips to you have for happiness as an entrepreneur? Take a moment and share your tips in the comments section below so we can all learn from each other.