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Happiness as a Business Model

There are many speculations on how to make more money, which business model to apply for your startup and so on. Just recently I’ve discovered The Happy Startup School and wanted to accompany their free ebook with my own thoughts and experiences on putting happiness first and money to second place when building a business.

Today our culture is different comparing the living opportunities our grandparents had. People get richer and can afford better lives all around the world by utilising modern technologies, Internet and various communities. Businesses are creating tools to simplify our lives and make them better. However, most businesses are still thinking like it’s still 19th age. People are not tools anymore, they are human beings and addressing your business as you would approach other human will go incredibly long way and slowly change our world for the good.


I love how startups are making huge impact inspiring people to change mindset from thinking only about money and results. I loved Leo’s from Buffer article on why we should rethink the 8-hour work day and how many startups are actually breaking the rules by working totally different.

If you are a business owner or lead in a team, give a try to remote work, check Remote book from Basecamp team, check these amazing stories from Buffer retreat, WooThemes trips and think about how beneficial it would be to actually have your team working hard on the beach and then having a crazy party afterwards.

Business is like a marriage

It’s all about a happy marriage and the rest of the life. We can compare business and marriage and we’ll see a lot of things that relate and many things are based on the same principles.

It’s a mindset, it’s a long term commitment, it requires honesty, decision making, passion, partnership and creativity. It’s very tough, for me it sounds ironic to talk about marriage as I am not married yet, but when I think of marriage it sounds as a very big thing in life that requires determination and balls to commit for a lifetime.

If you however decided to go all-in with your business idea, you have to be sure that it is the one, having passion and genuinely caring about it will make you a happy and successful entrepreneur.


Everything starts with a purpose or so called vision. When creating a business think about who you are, what do you care about and what life you want to live. Adapt your business to your lifestyle, not other way around. Only passion will make you successful in business because there will be hard times when you’ll lose interest and only belief and love in what you do will help you to overcome the obstacles and solve problems.

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” – Malcolm X

You should definitely check Simon Sinek book Start With Why where you will find out how to discover your personal and business cause that pushes you forward and inspires you to do what you do everyday.

Think people first

First of all you need to understand that business is nothing else than people helping other people. It is not a faceless, emotionless object that requires people’s sacrifices and losses.

When you understand that you start to think about the people who make things happen for the good of others. Treat your people like people and help them to fulfill their dreams and live a happy life. Having amazing team is more important than making extra hundred dollars. Always be the one who goes extra mile for people not for the money, little things or “favors” will not make any miracle but these will add up in the long term and eventually will evolve into a culture worth being a part of.

Working with my own projects I have experienced how important it is to hire talents by attitude and not skills or awards. I’ve been lucky enough to work with world-class designers but it was a terrible experience just because their personalities and attitude towards life and other people was egocentric and dodgy.

Happiness formula

Do you really expect to find a happiness formula here? I wish there was one, nevertheless, I think everyone has a unique happiness formula and has to live life to the full to find that out. My current happiness formula after studying and working abroad, building a startup and running a magazine is as follows.

Like-minded people + inspiring environment + voluntary work + work/rest balance + physical activities + healthy lifestyle + growth challenges + freedom = happiness

Do you see money in any place? No. I don’t say that I don’t need money, it is a very important asset in meeting like-minded people (conferences, meetups), inspiring environment (traveling), work/rest balance (spa, restaurant, cinema) etc. but money itself won’t make you happy, it is just a resource like wood to help you build something else, in my case a happy life.

Feeling of progress

To feel happy you need to progress in your personal and professional life. Sometimes it gets really tough to get going when you are frustrated and tired but simply seeing daily results will help you and your team to find motivation to get going. Even faking the progress will result in a better mood and more positive attitude towards next challenge.

What I’ve been using for quite some time is Lift app for iPhone to add daily habits I want to develop and start marking my progress on the app. Some of the habits included no alcohol, drink more water, run, exercise, wake up before 7am, write for 30 min and so on. After having streaks I would be more energised not to miss another day of doing something and seeing the progress actually made me feel that I was accomplishing something that is good for my health and gets me closer to my goals.

You can also start using the app right away and get guided help on making a healthier lifestyle or growing as an entrepreneur.


So many people are (de)motivated by fear of losing what they already have. Losing their job and not being able to support their families, losing social status etc. Most of my friends are motivated to wake up every morning just because they fear to lose the position they hold at their job. In most cases if you start talking about the work it’s not bringing up any positive emotions, unless you:

  1. Are mentally strong
  2. Have cool co-workers
  3. Enjoy your job

What to do?

As a business owner or a leader of a team you can start thinking about making a change. When I was studying in Denmark I had a chance to experience low power distance index (PDI).

“Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organisations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.” Cultures that endorse low power distance expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. – Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory

Low PDI country simply means that everyone in the organisation is treated equally and can express their feeling and opinions freely and be considered in making the final decision. It also means that the boss is not more powerful than a simple employee and can not manipulate using position.

Another great way to motivate people is to give shares of the company employees so they will understand that their work equals to paycheck they get. In this case team will be motivated to collaborate and do the best work they can to achieve the same goal – success. It is also helping to get rid of lazy people as the team will not tolerate someone who is not passionate about the work he does and doesn’t help to achieve shared goal.

Adopt and promote minimal lifestyle

What I mean is to think more of the experiences you can bring for your people rather than money-valued physical things. Of course from time to time it’s fantastic to giveaway new laptops or smartphones but what I truly believe in is life-changing experiences that last for a long time. Bring your team together and build closer relationships that extend beyond work. Book your team surfing lessons, organise a weekend hike with BBQ, buy tickets to sports game and so on, the possibilities are endless.

Couple weeks ago I met Tomas Jasovsky in Prague, Czech Republic and he has told me about a very cool initiative he’s organising with his friends. The concept is simple, you bring your team to The Tech Beach in Gran Canaria beach and redesign apps for a month, oh you surf the ocean at the same time too. It’s an unforgettable experience and much more fun way to work.


Happiness is definitely a thing we all seek in our lives. Business is simply one of the elements of your life and you should always think of making other people happy and don’t get too much into making money just for the sake of being rich. I hope that some of my thoughts in this article will inspire you to take action towards making happiness your first priority in life and business.

I’d love to hear your feedback and opinion on this article putting happiness first. Ping me on Twitter @tomaslau.

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