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22 Entrepreneurs Explain What Success Means in Entrepreneurship

When defining success as an entrepreneur, it’s a fact that there are no shortcuts to how it can be achieved. It differs with the phase you are in and the goals you’ve set to achieve. Some will say the number of employees in a company is the real measure of success while others will say it’s the impact you achieve. It’s clear the definition of success varies and is determined by various factors.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their definition of success and below are the responses they had.

#1- Much more than money

Photo Credit: Obu Ramaraj

Success is unique to each one of us and should not be defined based on someone else’s achievements. As an entrepreneur, someone might define Sir Richard Branson as being successful. Aspiring to reach the stars is a good thing, but it should be based on your life, your circumstances. Many of us define success based on the amount of money earnt. But success is much more than that. It encompasses health (mental and physical), relationships and then money.

Thanks to Obu Ramaraj


#2- Finding a sense of purpose

Photo Credit: George Mazzella

Success is something that everyone wants to attain, but so few are clearly able to define what exactly success is. Some believe it to be relative to the amount of wealth you accumulate, while others perceive it as the level of power & influence you attain. For me, success has always been about finding a sense of purpose in what I do and how Iive. To do something that aligns with your personal vision & values is a sure way to feel a true sense of fulfillment in your life that no amount of money or power can recreate. When someone feels that they lack sufficient wealth or influence, you can be sure it’s really their lack of a sense of purpose that creates those illusions.

Thanks to George Mazzella, The Suite!


#3- Working on something you are passionate about

Photo Credit: Farouk Daher

Its quite difficult to find what one’s true passion is, the most imperative thing is when we find that that we drop everything and go pursue it. Working while passionate is fun, fulfilling, and keeps us excited and hungry for continuous growth, that’s real success. Aside from the reality that you are most likely to reap the highest financial reward from working with passion, the state of mind it puts you in is priceless and hard to describe. You feel like you found your calling, the place where you belong, the way you can drive the most impact on the world. Follow your passion, it will lead you to success.

Thanks to Farouk Daher, Bizzy!


#4- Two concepts

Photo Credit: Isabella Ray

As someone who runs a 70% not-for-profit clothing label, the definition of success for me may differ from other entrepreneurs. From a very young age, my passion was helping animals. As I matured into a young woman this passion continued and it became increasingly clear that this was my calling. In this context, the concept of success comes in many different ways, both in a tangible and intangible way. From a tangible perspective, success for me comes in the form of providing medical care, homes, and food for dogs. Compared to my feelings of intangible success, which comes in the form of things like developing my own sense of self-purpose and raising awareness for the issues I am passionate about.

Thanks to Isabella Ray, Delilah Wolf Pack!


#5- Going beyond the goals you set for yourself

Photo Credit: Brian Burling

Everyone sets different standards for how they weigh success whether it be through the amount of revenue earned or the amount of acknowledgement that you can receive. In my case, I view success as a new creation. Since the eMotimo brand is about building and creating new machines to me, success really is that new idea coming to life and being available for others to use.

Thanks to Brian Burling, eMotimo!


#6- Empowering people

Photo Credit: Shereen Kassam

Success, to me, means creating businesses that empowers people to live their best life by providing positive value and upliftment. Whether it is via my stand-up comedy, my podcast, or my e-commerce business, I aim to bring joy into people’s lives by providing them the tools and inspiration to be successful in their pursuits.

Thanks to Shereen Kassam, My Pain Center!


#7- Ability to distribute time anywhere you wish

Photo Credit: Michael S. Seaver

I believe all persons have unique purpose. An authentic mission. A never-changing why. There is not one way to make money, give back to your community or invest in your family. Advancing through the roller coaster of life requires each of us to learn lessons in our own time and in our own way. When you’re able to invest the majority of your day into living your top core values, you’ll be happier. When you feel motivated by what you’re working on, you’ll be more productive. When you feel connected to a group that is accomplishing big goals, you’ll feel safe to offer opinions and take calculated risks. Society has historically defined success as money, power or fame – the means and the end. Gen Y and Gen Z see those as possible means to an end. They may contribute to memorable experiences, but they also may not. If you live your life’s purpose and choose where to distribute your time – you are successful.

Thanks to Michael S. Seaver, Seaver Consulting, LLC!


#8- Balanced life

Photo Credit: James Walsh

Success never comes to a person that is selfish and does not support others and guide them to the path of success. A successful person always gives instead of creating a world where only he has all the rights to live and gain. He always helps others in their difficult times, and when he is in trouble, others help him back thinking that he was the one who picked them up from the ground when no one else was listening to their problems. Saying yes to every person is a kind gesture, but if “yes” becomes the hurdle in your success, then a person needs to learn when to say no. Success comes with a balanced life, but a balanced life comes with saying no to anyone when it comes to your priorities. Saying no does not mean that you are selfish, but it means that you know what is important to you and you have to do it first before focusing on any other thing.

Thanks to James Walsh, Billionsinthebank!


#9- Overcoming fear and learning something new

Conquering a fear makes you feel invincible. Even if it’s confronting just one small fear each week, that is certainly something to feel proud of. The bigger fears will take more time, but any work you do to overcome fear will lead to success. Successful people understand that learning never stops. Take time each day to converse with someone with opposing views, read an interesting article on a topic you know little about, or watch a TED talk on new research.

Thanks to Jeev Trika, TopSEOs!


#10- Building trustworthy and trusted a brand

Photo Credit: Goutham Gandhi

As a founder of a new electrical appliance company, success for me is building a brand that sparks trust in its customers. As a product designer and developer, my focus has always been on making products that solve a need and also making it accessible to people that need it the most. However, these products wouldn’t make a difference without a brand that people can trust. For example, any product developed by Apple is something that you could easily trust. While for many other brands you would find yourself researching for days before you can make a purchase.

Thanks to Goutham Gandhi, Riku, Futuristic Labs!


#11-Time freedom

Photo Credit: Robin Brown

Success is not the name of bounding yourself 24/7 in the business cycle. By doing so, you may earn more money, but your freedom would be at stake. This approach does not let you live life to its fullest. So, in my opinion, success is to have freedom. The more we go ahead in our career journey, the more we should have time for other aspects of life. If to earn more money you have to sell your time then it is not a success. That’s why top-notch founders go towards team building and enjoy life to its fullest!

Thanks to Robin Brown, Vivipins!


#12- Being able to pursue your dreams

Photo Credit: Kevin Gyolai

Success can be as simple as coming up for air. Not for me but for my customers. Imagine the feeling of finally having the time to breathe and rest again. To pause and reflect. To be creative and energized again knowing that your operations are running like clockwork. If through my work to help build systems-driven businesses, I help make these things happen for my customer, my soul is fed. That’s success to me.

Thanks to Kevin Gyolai


#13- Living a life that’s bigger than ourselves

Photo Credit: Joey Klein

People’s traditional idea of success is making a lot of money, having prestige and fame, having an ideal family. Although all of those things are wonderful and they’re fine to strive for, at the end of the day they don’t translate to fulfillment and happiness. For me, success is more the things that lead to absolute fulfillment, to living a life that’s bigger than ourselves, because that tends to lead to an experience of joy and fulfillment. Although it’s not always easy, joy and fulfillment should be the goal. If I look at what’s going to create joy and fulfillment within myself, typically that comes from making a contribution to others. If we look at success through the lens of impact, we ask questions like: “In what way did I serve?” “In what way did I better other people’s lives?” “In what way did I better the world?” If we drive from that orientation, ultimately we’re going to succeed because we’re going to look back at a life that we lived well without regret.

Thanks to Joey Klein, Conscious Transformation!


#14- Leading towards a vision

Photo Credit: Steve Bourie

I define success as completing the goals that I have made for myself at 100% effort. It is easy to often overlook the importance of perfection, and while that is not always attainable in the workforce, trying to produce work at the closest level to perfection possible will only help create better and more engaging work. As a leader at my company, I also define success as leading my team towards finding their own versions of success. Being able to properly train an employee and helping to shape their career is the greatest success that I can have. When the people that I have taken the time to train, teach, and challenge become successful on their own, it feels as if I have done my job to the fullest.

Thanks to Steve Bourie, American Casino Guide Book!


#15- Result or outcome of optimism

Photo Credit: CJ Xia

It can be stated as a feeling more than the gross aspect. For anybody who is optimistic, success is surely assured though not immediately as expected. But the delayed success may lose charm or interest. Take for example, that a person expects a promotion or recognition within a year but gets it after five years, by which time the whole perception of success is an illusion. But you take another example when the couple did not produce a child even after ten years of marriage, but in the 11th year, they produce a child. In this case, success is delayed but not denied & is accepted as a success.

Thanks to CJ Xia, Boster Biological Technology!


#16- Business allies and friends I have

Photo Credit: Michael Lowe

I judge professional success the same way I judge my personal life, by how many close business friends I have. Not the amount of linked in connections I have, but true business allies and friends that I could go to for advice, help or just to bounce some ideas off – for an objective, and if needed, brutal opinion. Business without ethics is just that business. I feel if I don’t have a passion and enjoyment in what I do then it’s a slog. Liking my business relations means I am building emotional wealth as well as financial security.

Thanks to Michael Lowe, Car Passionate!


#17- Internal satisfaction

For me, Success is a feeling that gives you inner satisfaction and makes you modest. Success doesn’t mean to get infinite money, to build an empire or become popular in the world. If you are satisfied and enjoy your job (it doesn’t matter small or big) it means you are successful. If you enjoy a good time with your family, friends and having a social circle which supports you during hardship, then it means you have succeeded.

Thanks to Werner Jorgensen, HeatXperts ApS!


#18-How comfortable I am

Photo Credit: Freya Kuka

I have always associated success with being stress-free when it comes to money. For me personally, success would mean being able to retire early at about 45 years of age. My plan is to invest half of my salary every year in passive index funds to help make that happen. This is in connection with the FIRE movement and the idea of financial independence in the long-run. Success is more dependant on how comfortable you are in the long-run than how much money you have in the bank. If I can afford to retire early, do what I love, and still live a comfortable life- that would be a success.

Thanks to Freya Kuka, Collecting Cents!


#19- Self-Reflection

Photo Credit: Ajay Dahiya

Success is a product of self-reflection, and I believe it is more of an ongoing process than a final destination. Self-reflective leaders know their weaknesses, and can compensate for them by building a complimentary team that is stronger than if one believes they can do everything alone. Reflective leaders also know their strengths, and can organize their work-life such that they are brought as often into a state of “flow,” which is a blissful alignment of your role and purpose. When I am in the state of flow, the outside world falls away, I am completely in the present, and I am working towards my mission in the fullest use of my talent.

Thanks to Ajay Dahiya, The Pollination Project!


#20-  Showing up and tying

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

One of my favorite quotes is Wayne Gretsky’s ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ This quote aligns with how I define success. It’s critical to show up and to try. Give it your best shot and see what happens. If it works out, that’s fantastic. If not, you will feel content in knowing that you gave it your all and can brainstorm and move on to the next big idea. You never know whether your ideas will be successful or not until you try!

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!


#21- Three things

Photo Credit: Rhiannon Hendrickson

My definition of success has evolved over the years. Early in my career, it was all about me – I envisioned success as climbing the corporate ladder, wearing the suit and stilettos, and making it to the corner office. It then shifted from being all about me to being all about others – building and running an agency that served our clients well and made an impact on the lives of my team (myself and my family not necessarily included). My current definition of success has shifted yet again, most recently during the last six months of the COVID crisis. Now, my definition of success brings the two together – it’s about me AND others. I now define success as: 1. the ability to do work that we love for organizations we are proud of, and that makes a positive impact in the world 2. the ability to create opportunities to have full and meaningful lives 3. the ability to intertwine our personal and professional lives in whatever way best serves ourselves and our families.

Thanks to Rhiannon Hendrickson, Orapin Marketing + Public Relations!


#22- Reaping the fruits of your labor

Photo Credit: David Weingot

Enjoying a comfortable carefree life with the people that matter after years of hard work, lessons learned, and wisdom gained. It’s not necessarily about money or recognition, but knowing deep down that you accomplished something. That the rewards you reaped were earned and not given.

Thanks to David Weingot, DMAC Security!


 How do you define success? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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