January 17, 2019

Define Success For Yourself

financing small businessAt the beginning of the year we tend to sit down and outline our goals – both personal and business – for the coming year but I think it’s also an important time to really look at what ‘success’ means to you personally and work towards that.

In the in-person food business classes I teach here in Seattle, I always start each course by talking about what the definition of success really is. And here’s the truth of it – while we (especially those of us in North America!) typically define success as a financial number, that’s not necessarily what makes someone or a business successful or not. Depending on where you are in your life personally and where you want to take your business professionally, how you define success this year may not actually be tied to a financial figure.

Trust me, I understand full well that part of running a business is to hopefully make money so I’m not discounting the financial part of the equation totally. What I am saying is that you need to really judge for yourself whether it makes sense to aim for that extra $$ in your business revenue.

For some food entrepreneurs I’ve talked with, they’ve decided to define success by both a financial number but also by some other intangible. If they can achieve $X in sales AND still get to be home for dinner with their spouse every night that will be a win in their books. You could argue that they could potentially make more if they spent more time at the kitchen and didn’t come home for dinner, but for these folks the benefit of more money doesn’t outweigh the loss in terms of relationship and connection.

I know someone else who is focused on making a minimal amount of profit this year but her real focus is on really honing her existing customer relationships and making sure those are rock solid rather than spending lots of money on customer acquisition.

And then I know another person who is just starting out and has very small financial goals for her business but that’s because she’s also does the majority of childcare for her young children. She doesn’t have family near by who can watch them and can’t afford to get a babysitter on a regular basis. So the time she has to work on her business is extremely limited. But she’s not letting that or the fact that her business won’t be on the cover of Inc. this year stop her. She’s focusing instead on starting a small business with the hopes of growing it slowly over time as her children grow and need her less and less.

So as you think about success and what you want to achieve in your business this year, be sure to take the time to make sure you define for yourself what success really means.

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