Entrepreneurs are amongst the most hardworking, committed and dedicated human beings on the planet. Their businesses are more than just a job to them, more than even their livelihood. They’re a living, breathing part of who they are. They have devoted years of their time, hard work and more than likely a significant amount of their own capital too. They’ve given the business some of the best years of their lives. Over the years they’ve missed a lot of barbecues, been late for a lot of school plays and pageants and made huge personal sacrifices (likely including at least one relationship) to make sure that their business thrives, no matter how much belt tightening they may have to do personally.
Yet, for all their hard work and sacrifice, entrepreneurs tend to have trouble realizing when the battle is won, and while they may be reluctant to take their hands off the wheel even for a moment, they’ve earned themselves a hearty pat on the back. Most entrepreneurs have endured adversity for so long that it has become an old friend, and while this speaks to a strong work ethic, it also means that they probably endure more stress than they should.
Do you know your parameters for success?
When you first started preparing your business plan and carrying out the market research that would form the foundation of your business you likely had a very specific idea of what success looked like for you. Success was getting your business off the ground and trading preferably without bankrupting you). As your business grew and thrived after those tricky formative years, success probably became increasingly nebulous for you. It probably went from survival, to growth, to diversification to… Hmmm… Not quite sure.
As your business grows and prospers, it’s okay to start to think about the parameters for success as defined by you personally. Does success look like a brand new Aston Martin? Does it mean searching for ranches for sale and spending more time on horseback with your family? Does it mean looking for the dream property in which you can retire. It’s important to define the parameters for success if you are to know that you’ve achieved your goals.
Of course, it’s in the nature of many entrepreneurs to be self deprecating and to fail to acknowledge their own success. If you are an entrepreneur, or you work closely with one, with a penchant for burning the candle at both ends, it’s worth keeping an eye out for these telling signs that you no longer need to keep striving for success because you are a success… Whether you know it or not.
People are happy to see you in the morning
Some would argue that success is measured not in dollars and cents, nor in engagement statistics or conversion rates, but in how we influence and inspire the people around us. Our employees are a vital part of our business and play a huge part in its growth. We hire them because we understand that they have the skills and expertise to take our businesses to the net level. But we also hire them because we like and respect them, and would like to hope that they like and respect us.
While we tend to behave with respect and deference to those we work for, it’s only truly special people that we’re happy to see when we turn up for work every morning. If your walk from the front door to your office is thronged by genuine smiles, that’s a pretty sure sign that you’re successful in one of the most meaningful ways.
You get asked for advice a lot
Do you frequently get cold emails and messages on social media from aspiring entrepreneurs? Are you regularly asked what your secret is? Are you regularly asked to mentor young people with an interest in business. Are you regularly invited to attend speaking engagements, or do business magazines and websites regularly approach you for interviews? You might be self effacing enough to attribute this to the success of the business and to the efficacy of your employees but a big part of that is you. Other people in the world of business view you as a success and want to know how they can hope to replicate it for their own businesses. Even if you don’t see yourself as a success this is a pretty clear sign that the rest of the world does.
Your kids tell you their business ideas
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes from our kids, we know that it’s sincere. Sure, when they’re very young, they may always look to us and even imitate our vocabulary and turns of phrase. We are their models for adulthood, after all and it makes sense that they may base their expectations of adult life on us in their formative years. When the rebellion of adolescence is abandoned and the world of work has been navigated, however, and your kids come to you to pitch their business ideas to get your honest feedback and critique… There are few more endearing and rewarding signs that you’ve made it!
You ask “do I really want it??? rather than “can I afford it???
Financial well being is far from the only measure for success, but when it does arrive it has a habit of sneaking up on us. It also happily coincides with a reappraisal of our relationship with consumer goods not only as status symbols but as things that are supposed to give our lives meaning. Thus, upon seeing a beautiful new suit, a shiny new watch or an impressive new car, if you ask yourself whether or not you really want it rather than can you afford it, that’s a sign of success on two levels. It means that you’ve escaped the capitalist trap of defining your own net worth in terms of physical objects while also knowing that you’ve achieved the level of financial success whereby you can afford it if you choose to.
Nobody’s suggesting that you retire early, sell your business or relocate to the Cayman Islands… But just take a moment to enjoy your success!