Are Entrepreneurs Happy?

The short answer is yes, but they’re also more stressed than everyone else.

Good morning!

Reminder: I recently posted my plan to turn 21 Hats into a sustainable business. You can READ MORE HERE. The upshot is I’m asking readers to sign up as either a Paid Subscriber or as a Founding Member.

Here are today’s highlights:

  • The Biden administration has set the rules of its vaccine mandate.

  • Sick days are disappearing.

  • A gift guide featuring products made by Small Giant businesses.

  • Plus: what two owners of blue-collar businesses learned about buying and operating companies.


Are entrepreneurs happier than employees? “Despite dismal failure rates, long hours, low income, high stress levels and a host of other problems, entrepreneurs report consistently higher rates of happiness than wage-earning employees. All of those problems do take away from entrepreneurs’ happiness, of course—but the positives of running a business are so strong that they outweigh the negatives. ‘If you look at the data, it turns out that entrepreneurs on average earn less money than a typical employed person, work 13 hours more a week and report that it’s a very stressful occupation,’ says Boris Nikolaev, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. ‘But despite that, there’s overwhelming evidence in the literature that entrepreneurs report significantly higher levels of job satisfaction.’”

  • “‘Entrepreneurs are happier in terms of all indications of life satisfaction and work satisfaction,’ says Ute Stephan, professor of entrepreneurship at King’s College London, ... ‘However, they might be more stressed than the rest of us, as well.’”

  • “The stress and workload have a strong negative effect, as is evident in other studies, but the sense of doing something important and being their own boss is so gratifying that it outweighs all those negatives and leaves them happier overall.”

  • “If you run a small business, it’s natural to want it to grow. But will that make you happy? ... The researchers found that the owners of larger firms were no happier than those with smaller businesses.”

  • “Another common dream of entrepreneurs is to found a family business to pass on to their children. But a new study in Italy … found that first-generation entrepreneurs are 10 percent to 15 percent happier than successors.” READ MORE


The Biden administration has set the vaccine mandate rules for private companies with 100 or more employees: “Companies subject to the rules must ensure that employees who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 produce a negative test at least weekly and wear a mask in the workplace. Employers aren’t required under the new policy to provide or pay for tests, with potential exceptions if collective bargaining agreements compel them to do so.”

  • “Employers who don’t adhere to the requirements could face penalties of up to around $13,600 per violation.”

  • “Employers subject to the new rules must require each vaccinated worker to provide proof of vaccination status, federal officials said. When documentation can’t be obtained, a signed and dated statement from the employee attesting to his or her vaccination status is permitted.”

  • “The OSHA rules require those employers to provide paid time off to workers so they can receive the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as sick leave to recover from any side effects, and to ensure that unvaccinated employees wear a face mask while in the workplace by Dec. 5.” READ MORE


Companies trying to hire keep workers coming up with new incentives, including David’s Bridal, which is inviting employees to model its wedding dresses: “Beef and pork giant JBS USA Holdings is helping to build homes for employees to buy. Jeans maker Levi Strauss is offering free computer coding classes. Target, Walmart, and are offering to help pay for college tuition and books. Staffers at Chicago technology firm project44 can use a company-subsidized van—complete with a bed, a toilet and shower, and Wi-Fi—so they can combine work with family road trips.”

  • “Modeling proved so popular with employees that once the stores reopened, the retailer continued using its staff, this time in professional photo shoots.”

  • “‘Having employees participate in our advertising helps get across the message that we are a great place to work,’ said CEO James Marcum.”

  • “Employees get manicures and have their hair and makeup professionally done, services paid for by the company. They are trained to walk and pose for the camera.” READ MORE

With remote work, sick days are disappearing: “Remote work means you can't get colleagues sick, which has raised the bar for how sick is sick enough to take a day off. Plus, parents who telework may feel less comfortable taking time off to care for sick kids because they feel it would be possible — if stressful — to work from home while tending to their child's needs. In a survey conducted by OnePoll, two in three Americans say they feel less inclined to take time off for sore throats and stuffy noses when working from home. And 70 percent say they've worked while sick during the pandemic. On top of that, half of respondents in the same survey say Covid-19 has made other illnesses seem ‘minor’ in comparison.” READ MORE


Looking for holiday gifts that come from special companies? Check out this gift guide that features products made by companies that are part of the Small Giants community inspired by Bo Burlingham’s book about businesses that are more focused on being great than being big. READ MORE


In their previous lives, Bob Schwartz was an investment banker with Salomon Brothers and Mills Snell reviewed acquisition targets with private equity firm Permanent Equity. Then they both decided to cash in their careers and buy blue-collar businesses. More than 20 years ago, Schwartz bought a chain of laundromats called SuperSuds. More recently, Snell bought a roofing contractor called Aqua Seal. In the next 21 Hats webinar conversation, we’ll ask Schwartz and Snell what they learned about buying businesses and about operating businesses. If they had it to do over, would they take the same leap? Bring your own questions! Tuesday, November 9 at 3 ET.

Register Here


Carey Smith, founder of Big Ass Fans, says this is how customer service should be handled: “When this same customer discovered a bag of pieces were missing, he contacted Lego through its website. And guess what: Lego answered him, not only quickly, but cordially and humorously — while at the same time accepting full responsibility: ‘I am so sorry that you are missing bag 14 from your Mos Eisley cantina!’ the email read. ‘This must be the work of Lord Vader. Fear not, for I have hired Han to get that bag right out to you.’ That’s how you do it. You never argue with the customer. In this case, who knows? The customer might easily have been the one who misplaced the missing bag. But nothing is to be gained by suggesting that. You do what it takes to make customers happy — and if possible, make them laugh — and what you get in return is a great reputation and a stellar brand.” READ MORE


Chokepoints and the lack of drivers are driving up freight costs: “Now, truckers who used to wait a few hours to pick up or unload cargo sometimes sit as long as 12 hours, said Daniel Faircloth, chief executive of Surge Transportation Group LLC, a Dallas-based carrier with 75 trucks. To address that, Mr. Faircloth raised the rates he charges his shipping customers and offered to pay his drivers a straight salary of $1,650 a week. ‘Inefficiency in the entire industry gets under drivers’ skin,’ he said. ‘You help us get more efficient, and that helps drive rates down.’”

  • “In September, the average cost to hire a big rig on the ‘spot market,’ where companies book last-minute transportation, was $2.49 per mile excluding fuel surcharges, up 14 percent from the same month in 2020, according to online freight marketplace DAT Solutions.”

  • “Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the industry, said that trucking’s hiring challenges largely stem from a labor model that churns through inexperienced drivers.”

  • “There is absolutely not a shortage of people licensed and trained to do that job,” Mr. Viscelli said. ‘The industry has burned so many of them that they left.’” READ MORE

And now, there’s a shortage of alcohol: “The shortage has reportedly hit states like Ohio, New Jersey, Vermont, and Texas. The Pennsylvania state board in charge of consumer liquor sales even limited consumers to two bottles of 42 different alcoholic products — like Hennessy Cognac, Moët & Chandon champagne, Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and Patrón tequila — per day. ‘We’re literally bottling on demand. We just don’t have any flexibility right now,’ said Cathy Plourde, a co-owner for Rhode Island Spirits, which is the Pawtucket-based company that owns the ‘Rhodium’ brands of Forager’s botanical gin, charcoal-filtered vodka made from 100 percent corn spirits, and bright Grapefruitcello with peels of fresh pink grapefruit.”

  • “It’s not as if they don’t have the ingredients to make spirits — it’s the bottles that they are running short on. They said they are constantly counting how many are left at their distillery after fulfilling an order.”

  • “When asked if they’ve received any updates, co-owner Kara Larson said, ‘I mean, how often are you allowed to call your bottle broker each day? We’ve been fighting the bottle war for a year now.’”

  • “‘We really want to take advantage of the holiday market. We want to at least get our bourbons and ryes on shelves,’ said Alan Brinton, co-owner of South County Distillers, which is the sister company of Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly. ‘If you miss out on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, you’re now in Sober January.’” READ MORE


Start getting more done with a virtual assistant: How many times at the end of the day do you realize that you haven’t completed the important things that really improve the value of your business. Too many business owners spend the bulk of their day on administrative tasks instead of high-value priorities.

“I am delighted with the services rendered by Work Better Now. The virtual assistant they provided me is very efficient and has vastly exceeded my expectations. She helps me optimize my time allowing me to focus on the core activities that only I can do. Her work is contributing directly to revenue generation, profitability, and seamless, stress-free operations. She has completely changed my business.” – Ed Bohlke, Deserve Level Coaching

Work Better Now provides highly qualified, enthusiastic, and dedicated virtual assistants at a price any business can afford — but 21 Hats subscribers get $150 off for the first three months by mentioning “LOREN.” LEARN MORE HERE


Ithaca, N.Y. has voted to decarbonize every building in the city: “Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Ithaca’s initiative is projected to cut about that much from the city’s overall carbon footprint — saving approximately 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of the emissions from about 35,000 cars driven for a year. ‘There isn’t a single day where I don’t worry about what climate change means for our kids,’ said Donnel Baird, a founder of BlocPower, a Brooklyn-based company focused on ‘greening’ aging buildings. Ithaca chose BlocPower to manage its initiative.”

  • “[Baird] pointed to BlocPower’s work in Brooklyn as proof, saying that the company retrofitted more than 1,000 apartments there in under two years: ‘We have the track record.’”

  • “The idea, said [director of sustainability Luis] Aguirre-Torres, is to fund the program using private equity and then help reduce the costs of the capital via state and federal incentives, as well as manufacturer rebates.” READ MORE


 Paying the Volcano God: This week, Paul Downs tells Jay Goltz and Laura Zander why he’s come to view Google as the Volcano God. He’s not sure what it will take to keep the Volcano God happy, but he’s obsessed with doing everything he can, because the consequences of failing would be so great. We also talk about Paul’s content marketing strategy, the pricing lessons that emerged from our recent attempt to monetize 21 Hats, and why Laura—even in the midst of the labor shortage—now has a waiting list of people hoping to work at her yarn manufacturer in Texas.

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren