There's a famous - or infamous - study from Princeton that indicates that money ceases to be an actual component of a person's happiness once they reach an annual income of $75,000. Strange though it may seem, that was the magic number where money no longer seemed to be an indicator of a person's overall quality of life. Sure, those who made more than that had "bad days" or were saddened by events, but the stresses that those of lower incomes often cited during the study - those stresses driven by - you guessed it - money - were no longer a tangible issue.

Money, it would seem, can play a part in happiness.

Of course, there's a problem ... the average income in America, depending on what figure you use, is somewhere between $46,000 and $49,000 per household.

And there's that word again - "Average."

So why be average? Why aim for the 2.1 children, a home you don't own, a whopping 61% intake of junkfood in your diet, and nearly 3 hours of television a day?

To say nothing of the time spent on a smartphone doing things that don't increase your average income?

Now, it's no lie that many times, when people hear facts like these, they run about, determined to change their lives - we see it in our New Year's Resolutions, we see it in diets, and we see it in trends on social media and the news - and then, in a day, or a week, that change they promised has fallen by the wayside.

I'm not here to tell you what your average needs to be, but it would seem to me that one way to protect yourself, as an entrepreneur, from the dreaded average is to understand what that looks like in your industry, your business, and your personal life and take the steps to be above average.


Look at what is average in your area, your industry, and your company and then be better. That could be as simple as reading another book each month, or attending a seminar each year. On the other hand, it also means acknowledging what "average" actually is and how you, as the owner, arrive at that figure.

It isn't hard to do some things above average while others will be a challenge, and that is where taking action comes in. To take action, though, requires an understanding of what you're actually measuring to get that average and then, how that can be improved.

It might be easy to look straight to the bottom line to deduce an average, but too many times, small business owners fail to dig deep enough to uncover why certain results take place. Nothing is random and if you take the time, you'll find real data that cannot be denied. We've done this at the Michael E. Gerber Companies for years - measured everything - from what a sales team said to a client to the time of day that a call was placed - and used what we'd learned to direct actions based on what our measurements have told us. If Bob sells twice as much as Sam, does it mean Bob is a better salesman than Sam? Based only on the bottom line, yes, but there are too many variables in that statement. We actually found that something as seemingly innocuous as suit color had a direct impact on sales, not just some esoteric "sales skills." Remember, though, we're looking to understand "average" and everything that impacts the bottom line is just that - an average of an entire layer of variables.

No matter what, the entrepreneur must strive to be above average and at the same time, understand what is driving those averages they are seeking to beat. Take the time to understand and test the metrics you are using and then you can not only set the average, you can exceed it.

Published on: Jul 26, 2017
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of