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Entrepreneurs Define the Meaning of Business Success

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  • Business success is different for everyone.
  • Creating a strategy and outlining what success looks like for you gives you a way to measure your success.
  • The main keys to success are hard work and persistence, no matter what business you’re in.

Entrepreneurship can feel like you’re sailing a ship all by yourself; you’re not entirely sure where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, and you’re responsible for everything from steering to making sure the ship doesn’t sink. And, during your voyage, you start to question if there even is a destination.

Many young business owners start with a goal of “being successful.” But what does “being successful” really mean? The simplest (and accurate) answer is that success is different for everyone. Like everything else with your business, it’s up to you to define what success is.

Hope Wilson, a senior marketing specialist at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, sees business success as something larger than herself and her company. “Success is running a profitable firm that conducts business with honesty and integrity, makes meaningful contributions to the communities it serves, and nurtures high-quality, balanced lives for its employees,” she said. “As business owners, we must think outside our own doors. We must think about the potential impacts we have on those around us as well as future generations.

Brendan Lyle, CEO of Kayemcee Group, defines success as having a strong company culture with employees that stand behind the mission. “As an entrepreneur and business owner, my success is built around my staff,” he said. “My company will only be successful if I have the right team with me, and to make sure that happens, I ensure that my staff is happy. My ultimate success is making sure I can pay my staff as much as I can, and making sure they love getting out of bed every morning and coming to work because they really enjoy what they do.”

An effective, efficient way to define success for you and your business is to create a strategy for how you will achieve success and then outline the goals you need to accomplish along the way. “There is no business without a strategy to get there,” said social media strategist Inge Hunter.

Setting long-term goals helps you lock in what success means for you. Sometimes putting your ideas on paper helps outline a vision for your business and shows you exactly what you need to do to get there.

To set these goals, sit down with your business plan and think about your one, five, and 10-year business goals. Where do you see your business at each stage? Is there a common theme between those goals? Write down your vision of success for each time period and revisit the plan each year to see how your vision has changed.

As you’re setting goals, remain as objective and clear-headed as possible. Deryck Jordan, founder and managing attorney at Jordan Counsel said, “One thing that can make or break a business is the amount of preparation and planning that is done objectively. Passion is important, but don’t let your passion blind your objectivity.”

Keep your purpose in mind as you create each goal, and think about how that goal can contribute to your idea of success. Consider using the SMART method – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-oriented – to establish your goals.

In addition, thoroughly research your industry, competition and audience. This keeps your goals realistic and that they are “worthy” – that is, worth your time and effort in creating and seeing them through.

“Success is the gradual realization of a worthy goal,” said John Lee Dumas, founder and host of business podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. “To me, the key word here is worthy. Ask yourself this: ‘If you reach your goal, will you look at it as a goal worth attaining?'”

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