I want to be successful because I like to win. I’m not being arrogant, those who know me best know just how competitive I am. That competitiveness drives me to aim for success in whatever it is I’m doing.
Success, for you, could mean an important job title or it could mean a lot of zeros on a paycheck. Success could be staying with the same company for 10+ years or it could be simply doing something that makes you happy. It could even mean getting to a point in your life where you can just walk away from it all.
Regardless of what kind of success you are working towards, it doesn’t come easy. It requires blood (sometimes literally), sweat, and tears. It means staying up all night to finish a project. Missing some of your children’s activities. Putting off a large purchase. To modify a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, success comes at a price. YOU determine the price by how YOU define success. It doesn’t always mean $$$.
I’ve owned this company for six years and have been successful with it. However, there is always something to learn and people to learn from. As business owners, we need to continually seek out ways to grow, both personally and professionally, draw from the experience of others – and learn from them.
Take a look at these statistics from Small Business Trends, published in November 2016, on the success of small businesses in America –
- A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years.
- In fact, of all small businesses started in 2011 (when ME Marketing Services started):
- 4 percent made it to the second year
- 3 percent made it to the third year
- 9 percent made it to the fourth year
- 3 percent made it to the fifth year
- Leading causes of small business failure:
- Incompetence: 46 percent;
- Unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience: 30 percent;
- Catchall category (includes neglect, fraud, and disaster): 13 percent; and
- Lack of experiences in line of goods or services: 11 percent.
Success is a hard-fought battle that not everyone wins. Sometimes the success is just that you fought. Here are five brilliant observations I have learned from other business owners over the past few years that has helped me, and hopefully they will help you too.
5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner
1. You have to know your definition of success.
Like I mentioned above, success doesn’t always equal zeros on a paycheck. How successful you will be depends on how you define it. Here are some examples…
- More time with your family
- Being able to purchase a home (or even a second home at the beach)
- Industry recognition or awards
- Speaking engagements
Know your definition of success before you do anything else. This will also help you set your personal and professional goals in life.
2. What are 1 or 2 things you can do differently to set yourself apart?
It’s been said birds of a feather flock together. If that’s your case, how will be people know who you are? In a competitive business world, to be noticed you have to stand out. It could be from your hard work, your job title, or who you know.
Ask yourself – what is your “it” factor? You aren’t born with “it”, you have to develop it. What sets you apart from the other ‘birds’? To steal a line from a graphic floating around, be a Jackie Kennedy in a world of Kardashians.
3. Find a mentor and build a support system around yourself.
All successful people surround themselves with a good support system. Having a business coach or mentor is the first place to start. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed, not hold you back. This could be a spouse or partner, friends, family, co-workers. Whoever it is, be very selective in who you choose. They need to help set you up for success, not failure.
This person should also be someone who can give you honest, constructive feedback on what you may not be doing right. Surrounding yourself with “yes” men and women will not help you grow.
4. Set boundaries.
Knowing what you will and won’t do will help to define who you are and what your success is. Boundaries are important because not only will they help you stay focused, it will keep others from tempting you with things you have no business doing. This could range from business ethics to simply saying “no” to helping out at an event.
This is something to keep in mind every time a friend calls and says, “can I pick your brain about <enter your profession>.” Your time is money, don’t give it away for free.
5. Remember the Golden Rule.
I cannot stress how important this is. How you treat others says a lot about your character. Go into everything treating other people how you would want them to treat you. It may not work all the time, but you’ll be able to sleep at night. Being the competitive person I am, I will be the first to admit I struggle with this. I want to win every pitch I make. I want to win every project I bid. This includes being respectful of your competition as well.
One thing to ask is how can you serve others? By serving others, you’ll see your generosity come back to you. This can range from giving a college student an hour of your time to mentor them. It could help with your organization’s fundraiser. This could simply be showing compassion. Serving is a big part of my business – we donate money and time to many worthy causes in our area. It’s one of our cornerstones. We’ve been blessed over the years and it’s only right to pay it forward.
One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from Sir Winston Churchill – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Success can be fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts, and hopefully it will last a long time.
Do you think you have what it takes to be successful? What attributes do you think a successful person needs?