Photo credit: Abby Harris
In our previous blog post, I touched on getting to the point where you feel that your business is a success, and this week I wanted to explore that in more detail. Feeling ‘successful’ is a tricky term because it will inevitably mean different things to different people. It is purely subjective because it depends on what your perception of the term is.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes success as;
But what else can it mean?
In my research I asked a few friends how they defined success with regards to their business.
“I would measure success in still trading after 5 years and making a profit. Whatever your business is, they are signs of a healthy and successful one.”
“I have to contribute to the money pot and if I'm making a good amount of money each month I feel I am successful. I also measure it in that I've achieved things I'm proud of.”
“I also think I've worked hard to build up a customer base and regular customer orders.”
“I measure success as being able to pay your bills, going on holiday, clothe your children etc. That's the baseline because any professional business needs to do that. Then the more critical acclaim you have in the media. Admiration from peers.”
“Whether you are happy. Simple as that.”
There are many different ways to measure or define success but it seems that success isn’t about the fame or notoriety that we first imagine it to be. Success means that you are making a living doing what makes you happy. What that living involves is up to you, because ultimately you define that which makes you happy, which in turn leads to your success.
It is about having goals and working towards those goals. Once you have achieved your aim, you can be happy and proud with your success or you can give yourself further goals to work towards, which in turn will bring you more success.
I guess the trick is not looking for others to define your success, because that is impossible to do. You, and only you, can decide what success means to you and how you can achieve it. Whether that is a big house with a number of cars and a cook and cleaner, then that is your right. It might be that you want to be able to take the kids on holiday or get another dog. How you make that happen through your business goals is what will bring you the success (and therefore happiness) that you have laid out for yourself.
So, what comes first – the happiness or the success? I believe that if you are happy doing what you are doing then success will come, however if you have become successful achieving the goals you have set out for yourself you then in turn become happy. One leads to the other.
So like so many conversations I have with peers and clients, it results in the same thing. Planning. Planning is essential for your business growth but also for your success and your happiness. Don’t be fooled that it’s going to be easy however – attaining success through your business and working towards your goals will be hard at times with many obstacles in your way. But remember that you can learn more through your failures of getting to your goal, this is how you grow.
As creatives we have many things we struggle with, and defining success is just one of those. We have spoken about imposter syndrome in the past, and that is just one obstacle we have to overcome – how can we feel success if we don’t feel worthy in what we are doing? But it isn’t about how others see us, it has to be about how we see ourselves. We can give ourselves targets, and we have to congratulate ourselves when we achieve them. Regardless of whether we feel like a imposter, we can say that we have achieved our aim. And hopefully this will go a little way towards convincing ourselves that we are worthy of what we are doing, and fighting that imposter monster!
So what do you need to be successful in your own eyes? Think about what you want your goal to be; is it a certain number of sales per week or is it a certain income that you need to be able to support your family. Or is it designing a new product every day? Is it learning a new technique, or teaching that to others? Think about what it is you need to be happy? And when will you describe yourself as successful?
Plan what you need to achieve your goal and what is required to make that happen. Give yourself time targets to work towards and make it happen. If you want to change the goalposts, that’s fine too – it’s your goal, it’s your success and it’s your happiness.
I’d love to hear about how you define success and whether you feel you have achieved it yet.
Some great reading material;
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01884 266045 / 07969 044006