We’re all familiar with the expression “Keeping up with the Joneses," but have you ever considered that you’re also "keeping up" when it comes to your business? How do you define success, and are you living it? Consider these scenarios to see if you could feel more successful.
1. You're letting other people's definition of success be yours.
Far too many people spend every day in a career that is unfulfilling. This is often because they’re allowing other people's definition of success define theirs, even though it’s making them unhappy. You might think this is just for those who are employed by others, but you’re an entrepreneur, so that can’t be you, right? Maybe it can be.
Are you swinging for the fences to build that company that will one day be on the front page of this publication (or a similar one), but it’s causing you so much anxiety that you can’t enjoy the process? Maybe you got into the family business but you hate it. Or perhaps a company you founded started out in one way, but as it developed, it outgrew your interests and talents and it’s no longer a fit.
Because you may feel a sense of pressure that “bigger is better” or “not to quit," you stick it out, all the while making yourself miserable.
Lane Campbell, CEO of June, shares how he let other people's definition of success guide him, saying, "I thought early on in my career that making money would be the most rewarding part of my job. Instead I've found that helping others get to their goals is the most rewarding aspect of my life."
2. You have no idea how to define success for yourself.
To get to a new destination, you need a road map. This is no different with your goals, yet so many of us metaphorically drive aimlessly.
Have you ever taken a step back to consider what would really bring you happiness? Maybe it’s working less and spending more time with your family or friends. Maybe it’s traveling more, or building a company with an astronomical exit. Maybe it’s employing people and giving them a meaningful livelihood.
Consider spending some time with your thoughts and consider how you can design your company to fit into your definition of success.
Ben Landers, president of Blue Corona, shares some advice on how to merge your goals with your business: "In my experience, most successful entrepreneurs live and breathe their businesses 24/7. There's little distinction between business and self, especially during the startup phase. You want to make sure your new venture is a success? Make your goals your business's goals and vice-versa. If you're an entrepreneur and you've got a family, you'd better work them into the mix, too."
3. You’re coasting or settling.
It’s not unlikely that after a several years in business, you could start to coast. It’s great to get a little breathing room and appreciate the fruits of your labor, but if you stay that way for too long, you may begin to get stagnant.
Entrepreneurs thrive on challenges and problem-solving, so allow yourself to find another place to do that, whether it’s in your existing company, a new venture or with a hobby. Stillness can be a sign of success, but only if you choose for it to be. True success doesn’t happen by accident, so be intentional and work towards those goals.
I hit this point in my credit-card-processing business, Equitable Payments, about five years in, when things felt stale and routine. I had to step back and analyze how to bring new energy and life to my work, and I saw the positive results of that intention quite quickly.
4. You gave up.
Failure isn’t the enemy -- not trying is the enemy. Remember the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? Those are the moments where real success can thrive. Giving up won’t breed success. Trying until there are no more angles to try is a success because you gave it everything you could. Allow yourself to get to that place and not fear failure, knowing that you defined the process and the journey as success.
Being intentional about how you define and seek success for yourself and not letting others around you passively define it could be the key determiner to you achieving your own level of success.
Related: How to Overcome the Fear of Success