As an entrepreneur and a certified business mentor, I’m often asked this question. How do we know if we’re on the right path? How do we measure our daily accomplishments? How do we create a business blueprint that will lead us to a pot of gold?
In my opinion, measuring business success is somewhat personal. Sure, your financial statements will always tell you if you’re stable and sustainable but is money the only measurement of success?
Six years ago, I left a very good job in Boston to move to Bangor, Maine with my family. On my last day, the CEO told me that he would give me six months and I would be writing him an email asking for my job back. Business colleagues, friends, neighbors, and even some family members thought that my husband and I were nuts. We weren’t sure of how things would pan out for us in central Maine, but we knew what we ultimately wanted – a balanced family and work lifestyle where both of us would pursue our careers, have time to enjoy our little family, and be present in each other’s lives.
When I opened my marketing agency in the fall of 2009, many of my former colleagues thought I was delusional. We were in the middle of a national economic crisis, I didn’t know anyone in the area, and I only had $7,000.00 to invest in my new venture. Many people predicted my failure and our return to Massachusetts.
Six years have gone by. My husband loves the job that brought us to Bangor. Our daughter is thriving at school, participates in many extra-curricular programs, has great friends, and loves her life in Maine. And my agency? Well, it turns out I didn’t fail – the business continues to grow.
It’s fun to look at annual comparison reports each year and see the final results. I feel like a kid getting my report card when I close my fiscal year. However, my greatest sense of accomplishment doesn’t come from my P&L statements. In fact, in the history of this company, I did not make any profit in the first couple of years – everything I made, I reinvested in the business.
It is my perception that each entrepreneur has a set of personal goals that he/she wants to achieve, with one similarity – we need to make a living out it or it becomes a hobby. As the entrepreneurial journey goes on, each one of us begins to define our paths at an even more personal level. Some of us wish to grow faster than others, some have goals and deadlines to meet so they can move on to the next big thing in their lives, and others, like me, just want to do what they love, get better at it each day, and make a decent living.
I consider myself to be a successful professional and entrepreneur. I have met the goals I set for myself and my business back in 2009. Now I have a new set of goals for me and for my business, and I believe five years from now I will create another set of goals. Financial statements are not the only way to measure business success; more importantly, I evaluate my ability to be a better professional and a better person as a whole.
All of us entrepreneurs are haunted from time to time by the question of whether or not we’re on the right path, and if our business is successful or not. All I know is that we’re going to fall many times, and make stupid mistakes here and there—but that’s OK. Failure is an important component of growth and success. Mistakes are bound to happen and we should not fear them. Instead, we should focus on what we can learn from them.
I could probably be making twice as much money today if I stayed in Boston and followed the path that my career was taking me. However, I wasn’t happy and I decided to change my path. Today, I can’t help but think of the many people out there who would love to be in my shoes and do what they love for a living. So, the next time you need to validate your daily struggles and efforts to make your business successful, consider the whole picture. If you love what you do and can’t wait to get to work, I’d consider it a success—as long as you can make a living out of it!
Good luck! I’ve got to get back to work and kick some ass today.