Scaling Series, Part Three: The Happiness Equation for Entrepreneurs

This is the third blog in our series on scaling. For this post, we have worked in collaboration with Philippe Mauchard, one of our managing partners, who has previously ideated, designed and led the McKinsey Solutions unit, comprising some 40 startups (now several scale-ups) in the area of business decision support services globally.

See our previous scaling series posts on Squeezing Time and IPO.


Many entrepreneurs talk about how difficult starting a business can be - so why not try to be happy along the way?

There are many books and advice columns out there about what happiness is and how to achieve it, but let’s talk about one particular equation that seems to come back time and time again, especially for entrepreneurs.

“The Happiness Equation,” laid out by author Manfred Kets de Vries, includes three components of happiness: Someone to love, something to do and something to hope for.

If one of these is missing, you (and your business) can quickly suffer:

Someone to love
For entrepreneurs, this component is about picking the right team and becoming sufficiently friends with them. But wait - wouldn’t working with your friends cause more tension? Not necessarily. Because when times are tough - and they will be tough in the early stages of a business - you’ll want to surround yourself with people who can weather the storm with you. And when there are harsh truths to be told, who better to share that with than with your friends?

Friends push you to be better, and never compromise or settle for less. It’s not as if you need to be their absolute best friend and tell them every little detail of your life, but there is real value in working with people you care about and trust.

Something to do
It’s very easy to be busy, but the real challenge is to stay aware of what you’re busy with. The key problem for many entrepreneurs is focus - especially when it comes to being focused while remaining opportunistic. How can you recognize the good from the bad, and relate it back to something to hope for? If you’re not sure at the moment if it’s good for the business to go to that meeting, or tackle that project, then turn toward that broader picture - which leads to…

Something to hope for
Something to hope for is your ultimate purpose. It’s the lighthouse for how to navigate the waters - it’s almost inaccessible. This purpose will lead you somewhere that you aspire to go: the more you can align your purpose to the broader purpose, the better you feel about your work.

If any of these three components are pulling you down too much, it’s time to make a change: change the people, change the views or even pivot the company. It can be tough to run a business, but ultimately, you and your team should be happy doing the work that you’re doing - be sure to enjoy the ride!

Interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and scaling your business? Be sure to attend our Fin & Tonic on scaling on November 30.