There are many benefits to running your own business.
You get to set the hours, you don't have to ask for time off to take vacation, and in many cases, you can find more meaning and fulfillment in your work. But those aren't the only reasons to become an entrepreneur.
Research is starting to reveal that, for a variety of reasons, entrepreneurs live longer, healthier lives than employees do.
Let's talk about why that is and, most importantly, how it can help you live a healthier life whether you're an entrepreneur or not.
The Link Between Entrepreneurship and Health
It all started with a simple conversation.
I was sitting in the mid–morning sun at a Starbucks in central North Carolina (the backdrop for every great discovery of the 21st century). Ted Chandler, a physician for over 50 years and a former professor of medicine at Wake Forest University, was sharing a story with me about the connection between the number of small businesses in an area and the health of the surrounding community.
Given that we were both entrepreneurs who had a passion for health and wellness, we were interested in the link between entrepreneurship and health.
The article discussed researchers at Baylor University and Louisiana State University who discovered an interesting trend by combining data from the Center for Disease Control and the US Census. What they found was that as the number of small businesses increased, the health of the surrounding community improved.
For example, Summit County in Colorado (where there is an incredibly high number of small business) had a mortality rate, obesity rate, and diabetes rate that were each less than half of the national average.
The original article got my wheels turning, but didn't provide many answers. For example, a large amount of small businesses could mean that the area is wealthy. And if that was the case, then was the improved health due to small business or because people could afford to live a healthy lifestyle?
With these thoughts kicking around my head, I set off to find some more robust research about the link between entrepreneurship and health.
Research Reveals the Health Benefits of Entrepreneurship
Eventually my search led me to The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, where I found this study.
The researchers compared the health of a “nationally representative sample of employees and entrepreneurs” and examined a wide range of health factors for both groups. This included the rates of physical disease and mental illness, blood pressure, the number of sick days taken, the number of visits to the physician, and overall well–being and life satisfaction.
After the numbers were crunched, entrepreneurs were the clear winner in essentially every category. It was discovered that entrepreneurs showed significantly lower incidence of physical and mental illnesses, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension, made fewer visits to the hospital, and enjoyed higher overall well–being and life satisfaction.
Now for the important questions:
What does all of this mean for you?
And how can you reap the health benefits of entrepreneurship, regardless of whether or not you own a business?
Why Are Entrepreneurs Healthy?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 2 years now. And even though my entrepreneurial career is still in it's infancy, my experiences have mirrored much of the information above.
In general, the entrepreneurs that I have met are rarely overweight, often physically fit, and generally happier than people working for The Man.
But merely owning a business doesn't make you healthy.
What I believe makes most entrepreneurs healthy isn't the fact that they run a business, but that they approach life in a particular way. In other words, it's their healthy mindset that often leads to a healthy life.
- Entrepreneurs give themselves permission to change the world and to pursue their dreams.
- Entrepreneurs believe in themselves and in the control they have over their own lives.
- Entrepreneurs trust that, even when things are uncertain, they’ll figure it out.
- Entrepreneurs wake up with a purpose that drives them. They have a vision of what they are working towards that pulls them out of bed each day.
Read through those qualities again.
Now imagine if you applied those same ideas to living healthy…
- You give yourself permission to change your health and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
- You believe in yourself and in the control you have over your own health.
- You trust that, even when you feel uncomfortable or stupid in the gym, you'll figure it out.
- You wake up with a purpose that drives you. You have a vision of why you want to be healthy that pulls you into the gym each day.
It's not hard to see how an entrepreneurial mindset can translate into a healthy lifestyle.
The feelings of empowerment and self–confidence that come from entrepreneurship find their way into virtually every area of your life. Convincing yourself to go to the gym seems pretty easy when you just spent all day convincing yourself that you could run a business.
Anyone Can Live Like an Entrepreneur
Honestly, I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone, but I also don’t think it needs to be.
I have plenty of friends who work “traditional” jobs and are just as happy and healthy as my entrepreneur friends. The key is that these people also tend to be confident and believe in themselves.
Whether you’re working a regular job or blazing your own path, the important thing is to discover the empowering mindset that entrepreneurs so often display.
No job, entrepreneurial or otherwise, will singlehandedly save your health, but thinking like an entrepreneur can make it easier for you to live healthy and happy.