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28 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-Creating an encouraging environment

Photo Credit: Elley Hudson

Most business owners will tell you that success is achieved when you've filled your pockets. I disagree. To me, success is achieved when you create an encouraging environment where people can grow and thrive professionally. Before founding Excellence Property, I co-owned an agency where I was a minority shareholder. I was making money, yes, but I had minimal control over how things were done and I was upset by how many shareholders agendas seemed to trump the wellbeing of employees. It wasn't until I spearheaded my own agency that I felt successful, as people such as myself could finally learn property management in a safe environment that provided them with the support and systems they needed. One of the best pieces of professional advice ever shared with me was “do what you love, the money will follow”, which couldn't be more true. I love helping honest, accountable and hard-working people, and it's brought me more success than I ever could have imagined.

Thanks to Elley Hudson, Excellence Property!


#2- Sense of fulfillment

Photo Credit: Jessica Osborn

In my experience, success is multi-dimensional and we each have our own unique formula. It's not solely about the achievement of a goal, while this aspect is important, true success also includes the feeling of fulfillment and a lifestyle with the ideal balance between work, social, and personal time. Think about how often you may have achieved a goal, yet still felt unsatisfied. We all see many people who are successful on paper, yet they themselves do not feel successful. Why? Because they lack fulfillment and are not living their ideal lifestyle. For myself, and the female CEOs I work with, balance is the most important determining factor of success and this is why we start their business strategy by defining their ideal lifestyle: a unique balance of what's important in their life. Freedom to live our lives how we most desire is the reason we're in business, it's the motivation behind our strategy and choices we make in how we offer our services. When you've achieved business and revenue goals, resulting in the balanced lifestyle you most desire, you gain a deep sense of fulfillment. Which is the ultimate definition of success!

Thanks to Jessica Osborn, Jessica Osborn Coaching!


#3- Being the best I can be

Photo Credit: Moira Vella Photography

Success is being able to live a life where I am able to do what I want, when I want to do it, & how I want to do it. It is not just about money or status, it's being able to feel like I have achieved my goals, both professionally and personally. Being able to help people, giving back to my community, learning new things, getting back up when I fall down (which I have done many times), spending quality time with family & friends, being able to reward myself when I achieve a goal (no matter how small). Success to me may be different to others, but that's totally fine, after all we are all uniquely different, but I'll be happy being the ‘best person' I can be.. for ME!

Thanks to Debbie Roberts, Debbie Roberts Consulting!


#4- A few definitions

Photo Credit: Anesley Clarke

Success is achieved when you have a business that is predictable and scalable. This can only be done with a clear vision that defines who and what you represent in the marketplace. In addition, you need to build a strong internal culture based on values of respect, kindness & fairness. Financial success will follow….

Thanks to Anesley Clarke, B2C Furniture!


#5- Alignment to personal values

Photo Credit: Sonia Gibson

Living a life that is aligned to your personal values is the ultimate definition of success. For me this is: Financial independence – being in a financial position to support the lifestyle of my choosing. Wellbeing – having time to pursue a healthy lifestyle (eat well, exercise and find enjoyment outside of my business). Congruence – being surrounded by people who do what they say and say what they mean. I don't have time for people who aren't authentic. Seeing the big picture – I take a holistic approach, understanding how things are interconnected.

Thanks to Sonia Gibson, Accounting Heart!


#6- Making a difference

Photo Credit: Jessie Parker

Success to me is knowing you have made a difference in the lives of those around you- your children, your partner, family, friends, clients and wider community. Often the definition of success can focus on money or wealth, whereas I believe money is just a wonderful byproduct of giving from the heart.

Thanks to Jessie Parker


#7- Finding time to enjoy the fruits of my labor

Photo Credit: Elle Wilson

If you’re a business owner, you’ll probably have broken away from your role as a cog in a big company, or chosen to begin your career as your own boss, for one or all of several reasons: the independence, the flexibility, the job satisfaction, and the freedom to dictate your own career path and income. But many of us find that once we’ve launched our business, we become slaves to its every need and whim: the HR, the marketing, the tiny jobs that consume all of our productive work time and stop us from reaping the benefits that first attracted us to the idea. The flexibility to take holidays with the family, pick the kids up from school, and push forward purposefully in individual personal and professional development seem to fall prey to the appetites of the time-consuming process of actually running an enterprise. So success for me has been finding time to enjoy the fruits of my labor by readjusting the balance in favor of rewarding myself for all my hard work and prudent decisions.

Thanks to Elle Wilson, TrueBrow™!


#8- The journey

Photo Credit: Nicole Saccaro

Success is such a relative and subjective term that can mean so many things to different people. In terms of a business being successful, I believe if you have the right people working in the right environment on the right product with smart processes and an aligned, motivating vision, you will have success. Importantly, it’s not just about the destination, the journey itself can feel successful too.

Thanks to Nicole Saccaro, Formitize!


#9- Balance of several things

Photo Credit: Jennifer Sergeant

My definition of success doesn't necessarily lie within revenue earnings but lies within a balance that takes into consideration mental health, happiness, and continuing education not just for myself but for everyone on my team. When we are able to place our mental health and happiness above everything then we are truly striving. Continuing education is key because when we learn something new we're also learning how to be better problem solvers, better communicators, and better professionals. Success to me is balancing and managing all of these elements because this is what affects the growth, or lack thereof, of a company.

Thanks to Jennifer Sergeant, Digital Sargeant!


#10- Being able to ‘come home'

Photo Credit: Scott Mason

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we are uniquely positioned to throw out the myths others tell us about what success can be, and write new stories, defining success on our own terms. In the world's most enduring myths, the gods give the hero or heroine a mission — a goal to achieve — and a team of supporters and mentors, as well as special gifts, to achieve it. But the specific goal is usually just a MacGuffin — a plot device to trigger the journey. The successful hero has to leave the old world behind, overcome terrible obstacles (sometimes even death) as she enters new realms to reach the goal, and then grows, shifts, and completely re-emerges inside. That is when the goal is reached. And that is when they can come home, a true leader, and enjoy earned prosperity, abundance, and wisdom. For a truly great entrepreneur and businessperson, a successful business is similarly just a MacGuffin. Leaving comfort behind, navigating constantly changing terrains, and then shifting inside and growing — being able to “come home” to an inner space of psychological abundance, wisdom, and prosperity on terms that WE dictate: that is the real definition of entrepreneurial success.

Thanks to Scott Mason, Purpose Highway™!


#11- Having a large deal of pride

Photo Credit: Jason Feldman

When you look back on your life in your final moments, success means having a large deal of pride in your creations, accomplishments, and legacy, but having little to no regret about what you didn't do or missed opportunities i.e. your family still loves you. I consider myself successful if I can die feeling this way.

Thanks to Jason Feldman, Immigrate Me!


#12- A few definitions

Photo Credit: John Marsano

I define success as having a career you enjoy that pays well, a husband and family who love and care for you, children who make you proud of who they are and what they do, the freedom to worship a loving God, and the ability to contribute to the betterment of others.

Thanks to John Marsano, Inheritance Advanced!


#13- Having a self-sustaining business

Photo Credit: George Vari

For me, I have always defined success as an entrepreneur as the point at which your business becomes self-sustaining and you no longer need to worry about other sources of income. This likely rings true for any entrepreneurs out there who started a business as a side hustle and built it into their full-time job. I consider that success because at that point, you are in control of your financial destiny.

Thanks to Gergo Vari, Lensa!


#14- Fun and freedom

Photo Credit: Lauren Cook-McKay

Getting up whenever you want, eating whatever you want from the fridge, watching your favorite show when no one else is watching, meeting up with pals for no reason, having a glass of wine during a meeting, shopping for new clothes, and scheduling meetings when you want. Freedom, fun, and not having to answer to anyone are all key parts of success. It's about going through life without noticing where work actually had a role that day.

Thanks to Lauren Cook-McKay, Divorce Answers!


#15- A state of mind

Photo Credit: Steve Pogson

Success is mainly a state of mind that is measured by how you feel and the quality of your client encounters. When you can prove that your clients are benefiting from their working relationship with you, you know you've succeeded. The advantages include how you can challenge their views and be a reliable partner. They must understand that you are fighting alongside/for them. Being invited to be an active participant in your client's business is a sign of success.

Thanks to Steve Pogson, FirstPier!


#16- It varies from person to person

Photo Credit: Dror Zaifman

I think that success is different from person to person. I think some people would say that success is having a lot of friends or money or social status while others might say that it's doing something meaningful with your life. For me personally, success is finding a career that I'm passionate about. It's not about money or social status, it's whether I wake up excited for work everyday and feeling fulfilled by my job.

Thanks to Dror Zaifman, iCASH!


#17- Happiness

Photo Credit: Kim Abrams

Success is having a life that satisfies your needs to the fullest. For me, success means finding something that you can do and love and doing it everyday, no matter how much time or money it requires. It's the simple things in life that make me happy but I don't think that anyone should have to settle for anything less than they're capable of. Happiness is success!

Thanks to Kim Abrams, Abrams Roofing!


#18- Two-fold

Photo Credit: Donny Gamble

I want whatever I am doing to make money and I want to enjoy doing it. If you hate what you're doing, even if you're making money, I would hardly call that successful. You might have cash in the bank, but spending eight or more hours a day doing something that you don't feel good about is not a life well spent in my book. If you can spend your life doing something that fulfills you and it lets you pay the bills at the same time, you've found success.

Thanks to Donny Gamble, Retirement Investments!


#19- Several things

Photo Credit: Hayim Grant

Success is something different for everyone. However, in my opinion, it's building an organization that supports the well-being of your team and fulfilling your dreams by balancing work and life responsibly. In today's fast-paced society, the recipe for success goes beyond working hard; it hinges on how much one manages to save in their professional and personal life. I believe the key to success lies in finding happiness and peace within yourself as you work toward your goals. If you are passionate about what you do, it makes it much easier to make those accomplishments and allows you to be truly successful.

Thanks to Hayim Grant, Corporate Suites!


#20- Neverending pursuit of betterment

Photo Credit: Daniel Hess

It is that drive that never leaves you and the chase that never ends. As you continue climbing and reaching your goals you should never stop pushing to achieve more. Those who wake up every day wanting to do a little more or a little better are the ones who will continue to achieve great success in life.

Thanks to Daniel Hess, To Tony Productions!


#21- Winning

Photo Credit: Daivat Dholakia

You hear that there is this mystical secret to success from a young age. I don't think there's a secret to it. Like most things that humans do, we love to complicate things and make them out to be magical when they're really not. Success is synonymous with winning. So how do you win? Check off everything on your to-do list today. Congratulations, you've just won. Sure, it's a small win to some. But small wins add up to big wins, over time. Stay focused on the small wins and one day you'll realize that you've been winning big without any kind of herculean effort or dark magic. Don't overcomplicate it.

Thanks to Daivat Dholakia, Essenvia!


#22- Well-being

So, being well-resourced win a multitude of ways, such as financially, emotionally, and mentally. Obviously to enjoy life, you need solid financial abundance. At the same time, that's not enough to really call it success. And while status is great, that comes from the outside. When you're using your natural gifts and in a career that gets you excited, it stops feeling so much like work. The intrinsic benefits here are being mentally stimulated and emotionally rewarded. That's rare to come by!

Thanks to Leanna Serras, FragranceX.com!


#23- Knowing Your Value

Photo Credit: Dan Ni

The purpose of achieving the goals that I had set in life was never to gain fame or riches, it was because what I was made to believe while growing up was that for people like me gaining success is an anomaly or that I was not equal to my peers. Success for me has always been defined as achieving what you have set for yourself because you know you are deserving of it and if it is done while maintaining your integrity and self-respect, you are and will remain successful in not just your career but in every aspect of life. When you know what you are worth and your potential then going after it and achieving it is the purest form of success. And once you achieve your goals, treating anyone else with the same respect you expect will set you apart and reaffirm the fact that you are deserving of being in the position you are in.

Thanks to Dan Ni, Messaged.com!


#24- Contentment

Photo Credit: Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D

I tend to think of success as a series of small victories. I don't want to be in a situation where I feel like there is nothing left to learn or achieve as energized by new, complicated tasks. To me, success is defined as the ability to leave work each evening feeling content that I've learned something new or helpful. Also, for me, success means performing a good job. I want to be the person who constantly gives it her all and goes above and beyond to attain her objectives.

Thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D


#25- How well I'm serving my greater purpose

Photo Credit: Sarah Parsons

Through my journey from freelancer to executive to founder, I've discovered that for me success is defined by how well I'm serving my greater purpose. It's easy to get caught up in the details of what success should look like, but the truth is no matter what it is you're doing, from the daily tasks of running a business to coming up with bright new innovations, if serves the true north of your greater purpose then that is a success.

Thanks to Sarah Parsons, Sarah Parsons Media!


#26- Adding value

Photo Credit: Christine Brown

Success as a designer, founder, and business owner is knowing that you've been able to create meaningful added value in the lives of your customers through exceptional product design that puts their needs and experience first. The creation of such a product is further successful when the intentional design is supported by sustainable processes that put the health of our bodies and our planet first. Lastly, when asked how I measure success, personally, it will be when I'm able to continue my commitment to social justice through increasingly larger donations to meaningful recipients.

Thanks to Christine Brown, Kind Cup!


#27- Loving life

Photo Credit: Simon Benn

For me, success is being able to wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead. ‘If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.' Many people have claimed this quote as their own but it's a mantra I live by. The time I feel as though I don't want to go to work will be the day I change my career but whilst it feels like a choice rather than a burden and gives me vitality rather than drains me I continue. To love your work is a wonderful thing that should absolutely be encouraged.

Thanks to Simon Benn, Gentlemen4Hire!


#28- Remaining infinitely flexible

Photo Credit: Mark Oborn

To me, success is about having the ability to continuously adapt. To remain infinitely flexible in my approach in order to excel at whatever my businesses do. I know who I want to BE rather than what I want to HAVE or DO, this takes away the pressure of financial success and focuses on the personal feelings of success. The odd thing I've found is that money flows as a result, but it's certainly not the focus.

Thanks to Mark Oborn


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

Mercy - CBNation

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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