I have worked hard to build something from nothing. And just like many new business owners, I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error during my entrepreneurship journey. My digital marketing agency is not my first business, but it is the first one to have passed the 5-year mark, and it is the first one that hasn`t failed.
Does that make it a successful business?
I always think about success and how we measure it by standards and values that aren’t necessarily important to us but rather the standards and values forced on us by society. We admire people we barely know and dream to live their lives, even if just for a day. Maybe not all of us, but some of us and perhaps not all the time, but when we fail to recognize the value of our own achievements and progress.
But then if we don`t compare ourselves or businesses to others, how we will know if we are successful?
It’s true what they say – comparison is the thief of joy. What we see is not always what or how it actually is. No two people nor two businesses are the same, so why would we expect their road to success to be the same? When you think of it from this perspective, it makes sense right.
The next time you catch yourself in business envy, try these three mindset shifts instead:
Compare your business to your business yesterday
So you read a great article about a company that became so successful by doing just doing one simple thing? Or they discovered a magic formula that they would like to share with you. They also have a list of other companies in your niche, just like you, with thousands of followers, claiming that they are closing 6-digit contracts. How is that believable?
What I have learned is that it is very difficult to build a strong business by copying other business models. You do not have their opportunities, their strengths, even if your business model looks identical. You will never be able to realistically evaluate their efforts and the achievements they have led to. They might have started with a pre-set advantage, or they work harder than you do or communicate and market their services and products better than you do.
Watch and learn from them, but never try to copy them. Trying to duplicate someone else’s business model is a shortcut to disaster. Your ideas and business model should be unique and if you find that someone is trying to duplicate your business, it doesn`t mean that they can actually do what you do.
Stop comparing yourself. Yes, you are not comparing your business, you are comparing yourself and your ability to create a successful business. This means you are putting aside your own strengths to try to gain someone else’s illusionary strengths.
Here is something to keep in mind:
“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” – ’12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson.
The lesson is simple – compare your business today with where your business was yesterday. I am more than confident that you will be surprised to discover how much you have achieved.
Measure fulfillment, not profits
The capitalist in you will probably strongly disagree with the title of this section. As you know, in the world we inhabit, money rules all, much like Saurons ring. Money is considered the measure of success for many people and if that is you, good. Then you have found how to define what success is for you. But for many out there including myself, money is just a tool to achieve something, but it’s not what makes us happy or the embodiment of success.
In many cases, people have the wrong perception, especially when funds are low, that it’s money that will make a difference in their lives. To be clear, I completely understand that money will have a huge impact on the lives of those living in the poverty. For the sake of this article, we are referring to most of us that have our basic needs met and live in the comfort of having access to healthcare, education, improved standards of living, etc.
A study by Princeton researchers discover that people feel happier the more money they make, up to an estimated $75,000 a year per person.
If your business makes you happy, then that should be a good measure of success. Think of how it would feel to have a business that does not fulfill you, and the only thing that you are constantly concerned with is the amount of profit you’re generating. You would constantly be stressed and anxious.
Again, I want to make sure that you understand that this is just my version of business success. It might appear silly to some and pointless to others but at the end of the day, we are the only ones who define our success based on how we influence and view ourselves and our businesses.
Long-term vs. Short-term
This is something so many of us constantly forget about. Are we playing the long game or just in it for the quick sprint. When we measure the success of our business, we always need to add goals that we can reach tomorrow and in the next 3-years, and then measure the progress. We may not achieve tomorrow’s goals, but we may end up fulfilling the 3-year plan.
Be practical and follow the numbers (The mighty KPIs)
The master of data is the master of all. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) needs to be your bedtime read. You may have a feeling that your business is growing, but the numbers are the true indicators of where your business is right now. Get to know it, understand what it means, and start working on how to improve it.
Take a look at some of the KPIs with a description and explanation in one of my articles.
Do I have a successful business? Thinking about that question and my answer, what I ended up with is that if I was at the point I was at 7-years ago, I would consider my business today a success. And the version of myself today has already seen how much more could still be accomplished.
Our perception of success changes as we grow, learn, and experience. So, don`t overthink it, instead focus your energy on what you can do today to create a better version of yourself tomorrow.