American women entrepreneurs are among the happiest people in the world. Their happiness levels surge as they grow their businesses, according to the  2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) U.S. Report. American women entrepreneurs ranked their well-being higher than other women in the U.S., higher than women entrepreneurs in other countries and higher than men.

1.) Being your own boss

Ellen Winkler, a designer of events, spaces and experiences, likes to play by her own rules and call the shots. “I want to choose the way I live and my lifestyle,” she said. Winker started her career as an engineer in the male-dominated heavy- and highway-construction industry in Manhattan.

When she got married and moved to Jackson, Wyoming, Winkler thought about opening a small construction company, but that would have been a 24/7 commitment. She wanted to have time to ski when 6 inches of powder fell on the mountain slopes. So Winkler and her husband started an event management and TV production company that catered to action sports brands, such as Gravity Sports, Quiksilver, Oakley and Red Bull.

When her children were born, Winkler’s goals changed. Staying near home and having time for her children became her priority. She and her husband moved to Denver. Her new company Drumbeat creates non-digital brand experiences for corporations. Winkler and her husband also own co-working spaces. Battery621 hosts outdoor lifestyle outfits like Spyder, Icelantic and The Public Works, and has developed a cult-like following due to its atmosphere of camaraderie. INDUSTRY is a brand new, much larger space with a focus on serving companies providing technology and creative services. It is part of a plan to revitalization the Brighton Boulevard corridor and River North neighborhood. Whether it is an event, space or experience, Winkler’s companies deliver an engaging experience that breaks the norm.

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2.) Getting a personal return on your investment

"Unquestionably, people who run their own businesses in the United States are very satisfied with their lives," commented the 2013 GEM U.S. Report's lead author, Donna J. Kelley, who is also a Babson College Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship. "Women entrepreneurs show a substantial boost in well-being as their businesses mature, demonstrating the personal return on investment that comes with venturing into entrepreneurship. Our research found that the benefits of entrepreneurship extend beyond economic and social value. Clearly, entrepreneurship provides women a most satisfying career choice."

Melissa Saubers, CoWork Waldo, a co-working space in Kansas City, wanted to create a perfect work environment for herself and others. Someplace where she could share ideas but be away from the distractions of working from home. A graduate of the corporate environment, she is happy that her hard work now benefits her, not someone else.

3.) Having control of your schedule

Winkler works really hard, but only when she wants to. If she wants to volunteer for her kids’ school during the day, she’ll do her work at 11pm.

Like Winkler, Saubers wanted the flexibility to be with her children when they needed her. She, too, wanted to be able to volunteer. Having her own business gives her the ability to control of her schedule.  

4.) Being resilient

Despite risks, entrepreneurs find ways to stay optimistic when challenges arise. They push past barriers and setbacks and grow from failure. The ability to recover after adversity is the key. Entrepreneurs often view the future as bright when others don’t, according to Swedish researchers. “Being an entrepreneur requires resiliency, said Liz Wilkes, of Exubrancy, which provides wellness programs for corporations. “Resiliency breeds happiness.”

It isn’t cockeyed to have an optimistic outlook. It’s actually a more accurate reflection of the future, the report notes. “You really have to believe in yourself to go out on your own,” said Wilkes. “People who believe in themselves are happier.”

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5.) Doing what you love

Women are more likely to start businesses to pursue a personal passion and make a positive impact, according to U.S. Trust. Daryl Roth, a Broadway producer who has won seven Pulitzers and eight Tonys—including Raisin in the Sun this year—exemplifies this. Roth’s love for the theater started when she was young. She went to the theater with her parents and sister. “I was the happiest audience member,” said Roth. When not in the audience, she was an avid reader, immersing herself in the creations of other people’s imaginations.

Now, it is her creativity that sparks the imagination of others. The plays she produces typically explore issues of life and identity, especially as they relate to gender, race, and religion. Her work provides food for thought and discussion long after the audience leaves the theater. 

“Every SheEO we support has a motivation to change the world and make money in her business design,” said Vicki Saunders, founder of  SheEO, which helps women grow their companies. Saunders is the author of Think Like A SheEO: Succeeding in the Age of Creators, Makers and Entrepreneurs. “What could make you happier than that?"

Women entrepreneurs feel they have obtained the important things they want in their lives and, in general, would not change anything if they had the opportunity to live their lives over again, according to 2013 GEM U.S. Report. It’s no surprise that these women are happier. They control their destiny and do what they are passionate about.

About the author:

Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a content marketing and marketing research company that helps companies reach small businesses through branded marketing and social media opportunities that generate visibility, thought leadership and brand loyalty. As a writer (author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One and Forbes contributor), consultant, teacher (Kauffman FastTrac facilitator and former adjunct professor at The New School) and speaker, Geri has helped thousands of entrepreneurs take their vision to reality, develop their business plan, and learn the strategies and tactics they need to grow their businesses. Her guidance has steered many entrepreneurs away from pitfalls that might have prevented or delayed their growth. She was named a 2012 and 2013 Small Business Influencer for her articles on the success factors of women entrepreneurs.

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