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Why It Pays To Be A Happy Entrepreneur

01/13/2017 06:41 EST | Updated 01/13/2017 06:41 EST
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There's no big secret to success in business -- it's all about attitude. Approaching entrepreneurship with optimism means you can bounce back when ideas flop, and in general, you bring more energy and enthusiasm to the workplace. But the true benefits of being a positive leader are its ripple effects: studies show that optimism increases revenue, retention, and productivity in others.

For the most part, I'm a naturally happy person. I've also been in business for nearly 30 years, and my optimism has been tested by firings, betrayals, and one truly painful recession.

Like most entrepreneurs, I've experienced what Good to Great author Jim Collins calls "doom loops". The takeaway from these occasional downward spirals is that getting back to the sunny side of the street -- quickly -- is essential. Here's how.

Take Stock, Then Move On

Eight years ago, I considered selling 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. It was doing millions in revenue and growing, but personally, I was in a negative place.

It was in the aftermath of firing our COO. It had taken months to vet her for the job and in my mind, the future of our company hinged on her success. However, it quickly became clear that she wasn't a culture fit: employees started resigning and people refused to work with her. When we had to let her go, I was left questioning everything I thought I knew.

Once the sting wore off, I forced myself to have a closer look at what went wrong. In hindsight, it was easy to see that her all-star resume outshone her personality. When we re-started our search for a COO, we focused on finding someone with experience and culture fit (and we found Erik Church).

The Upside: Approaching failure as an opportunity to learn makes it possible to get ahead of the hard times -- even if the lesson isn't obvious right away.

Keep Happy Company

In the beginning days of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I fired my entire team of 11. I'd come to see that they weren't interested in growing the business with me -- they were in it for their paycheques. When I started avoiding the office to dodge my own staff, I realized it was time to clean house.

As I rebuilt, I vowed to find passionate people who understood my long-term vision for growth. Now, visitors come into our office and ask what we've been drinking, because our workplace has such a positive buzz. By focusing on hiring "happy people" who are positive and self-motivated about their work, our culture has never been better -- or more productive.

The Upside: For every happy person you bring into your life, your own happiness increases by 9%. Spending time with people who see the glass half-full will make your life (and business) better.

Smile Like You Mean It

It's impossible to be positive 100% of the time. But there's truth to the saying "fake it 'til you make it". Amy Cuddy explains in her TED Talk that "power posing" - standing with your hands on your hips - can create a cognitive reaction that actually makes you more confident.

The same goes for smiling: literally turning a "frown upside-down" will make you feel better. And humans tend to mimic each other's facial expressions, so your single smile could start a happiness epidemic.

The Upside: Self-awareness is a game-changer. Even if you're feeling blue, you can transform negative energy into something positive for yourself -- and spread the smile to the rest of your team.

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