Before You Succeed, You Must Define Success

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Here’s the thing, clients come to us at CatchFire Funding to get help funding their businesses. But, this is just a means to an end – the eventual outcome is having unlocked those funds, which in turn, allows the entrepreneur to fund their “dreams.” Of course, the dreams are as unique as the business, and as unique as the entrepreneur themselves.

One might ask, “What is it that makes a business successful?” What’s the recipe for success? A successful business venture may or may not be measured in money…it may be gauged by personal fulfillment, philanthropic opportunity, a cure for boredom, betterment of society, or by spending more time with family…you get the picture.

Success can mean many different things to many different people. Before you embark on your path to entrepreneurship, I feel it’s extremely beneficial to figure out what success means to you. Because, you want to ensure that the place you end up, is the place you really want to be. You want the end result to fit your definition of success, not somebody else’s.

What does success look like to you?

How do you define success? Does it mean a cushy retirement, a vacation home, funding your children’s or grandchildren’s college educations, traveling the world in style, reinvigorating your home town, donating to your church, or helping a cause that’s dear to your heart? Perhaps it’s all of these things. When you define your own personal vision of success, your goals become crystal clear. And without goals, what’s the point of spinning your wheels?

Answer these questions:

  • What is motivating me to explore business ownership?
  • Whose life, or lives will be affected by my decisions? For better, or worse?
  • If I don’t open a business, what’s my alternative?
  • How long have I mulled over this decision/life change?
  • If I have a “successful” business venture, how will my life or the lives of those around me change?

When you ask yourself these questions, consider your family dynamics. Are you single, married, or married with children? Are your children still at home, or have they already moved out? Entrepreneurship has a business and personal dynamic. It’s a balancing act; you’re making decisions that have the potential to influence others.

Sometimes you’re trading off business, and sometimes you’re trading off personal experience. You have to define what success is in your personal life, and you have to define success in your business life.

How I Define Success for Myself

A colleague recently asked, “Bill, how do you define success?” When I started CatchFire Funding, I certainly put road marks out there. I had a target in my mind and I knew I wanted to get to a certain level. I had to do that to continue to grow my business. When my company reached critical mass for client and employee resources, that was my biggest success.

If people asked me why I consider my business successful, I’d have to say that not only is it solvent and growing, but I find it personally fulfilling. I enjoy my employees and I enjoy having conversations with entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I enjoy that my business isn’t on the edge, and that I’m meeting financial needs.

Value in Setting Targets and Goals

I certainly had targets in the beginning; when I started my business, success to me meant reaching my targets. Oh, what a sweet feeling it was each time my company got over a plateau and reached a new benchmark – it never gets old. If you start a business, an excellent way to feel a sense of achievement and build confidence is to set goals or targets, and don’t be shy about celebrating when you reach them.

Your Idea of Success Will Change

There’s one constant that I’ve observed in all entrepreneurs…as they gain experience and grow, their idea of success changes. Early on, you put out road marks that are not necessarily correct, but you have to set goals. After asking yourself the questions I mentioned earlier, you’ll start thinking in that vein.

Goals are important, even if they aren’t entirely accurate in the beginning. They give you something to shoot for. You don’t have to have all the answers upfront, but you must have something to shoot for.

I’ve found that most people set their targets too low. If you put your mind to something BIG, something you never dreamed of, you’ll discover that you’re capable of amazing things.

If you could use additional inspiration for starting your own business and setting success benchmarks, take a look at my book Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur – it has helped many people make informed decisions about their entrepreneurial future.