A few weeks ago, I was asked a question that all business owners have to one day face: “What does success mean to you?”
Now, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 8 years old. I was that kid; the one who ran a car washing business up and down the street, hiring the neighborhood kids to do all the work. What I mean is I’ve had a lot of time to think about the answer to this very question.
If you want to really quantify things, there’s always money. If you want to count every single dollar you earn and call your business a success when you hit a certain threshold, then more power to you. I always knew that wasn’t what I personally believed in, however.
Don’t get me wrong; money’s great. Without any, you won’t have a business. But to use a monetary value as the end-all and be-all indicator of business success just isn’t in my DNA, which means it isn’t in my company’s DNA either.
Creating WORKetc wasn’t a way for me to get rich. No, the all in one business management software used by thousands of people around the world today was originally just a collection of tools that would help me do my work better.
It took a while for me to realize that if these tools are helping me work more effectively and efficiently, then it could help other people as well. That’s when the first public incarnation of WORKetc started to form in my mind. That was also when I started seriously thinking about my definition of business success.
To reiterate, it’s not about the money I get to earn and spend. Money is what keeps the business running, of course, but for me, business success is more about the value that I, my company, and our product are providing to our customers.
It’s in saving a digital marketing firm time and money that can be spent on growing their business further. It’s in helping an animation studio manage all of their remote workers. It’s in keeping a non-profit on top of all the leadership programs they provide to schools.
It’s in helping all these different businesses in different industries and different countries save time, save money, work faster, and work better.
And really, it’s not just about our customers. It’s also about their customers, and their customers’ customers. We want the value we provide our users to help them provide more value to their own customers, and so on all the way down to the end of the line.
I like to think of it as an upside-down pyramid, with WORKetc anchoring the bottom and helping all these businesses, their employees, and their customers — all these many different people, all over the world — work better.
And I’m definitely not alone in believing that money isn’t the only way to quantify success. We posed the exact same question, both here on the blog and on Insiders, and got responses very closely aligned to my own definition of business success. Here are a few of them:
Doing what you love, and loving what you do, doing business in a meaningful way that positively impacts your world and community. When you provide your customers or community with a service that gives back with no negative impact.
– Lydia Berliner, Lotus Energy
My clients trust me to manage their IT, my employees and family trust me to provide for them. Success, for me, is to not betray that trust and to exceed expectations.
– Ed Shanker, Meeting Tree Computer Corp
IMHO Business success can only be defined in a Win-Win context. Every entity connected in some way to your business endeavor will share in each and every transaction either directly or indirectly. Not all of them will share economically in the transaction, although you’ll be surprised how many do when you really stop and think about it.
Likewise, the scope and number of entities you touch with your transaction will be astonishing even for the neighborhood lemonade stand run by a couple of grade schoolers.
I have a specific goal that every entity I encounter will be affected positively. With my business if I serve others fairly, meet their needs and treat them with respect then one of the by-products will be a monetary gain.
That, I believe, is the ultimate business success.
– Bryan Oleman, World Financial Group
Business success to me means the business being profitable and sustainable working environment for our team members around the world as well as an effective vehicle to achieving my lifestyle goals. Business success to me is also about growing and contributing to the world at large and allowing us to create cool things that we can be proud of.
– Stan Zaslavsky, Eagle Vision Property
Business success is achieved when a company offers a product or service that fulfills a need it’s client has, and does so in a way that is profitable, repeatable, and sustainable. Businesses that achieve success do so by accomplishing several achievements including obtaining high levels of customer and employee satisfaction, becoming a valuable member of the community in which it is based, and building a system for continual improvement and adaptation to the financial, technical and social ecosystem in which it exists.
– Lauretta Shokler, Osky Blue
Business success to me is achieved by working with a company and people who are doing the right thing and providing a product or service that enhances life and/or work for someone else, or another group of people.
– Katie Ruiz, eBackpack
Success is not having to describe what’s been accomplished as others do it for you! A successful company is one which, behaving ethically and legally, creates value, independent of the owner’s efforts. This usually results in a sustained stream of profit, and a positive market value, representing the anticipated future profits!
– Karen Watts, Corefino