4 Key Factors to Determining Ultimate Success

Success means a burgeoning business, a nice house, and at least one luxury car. Or does it?

For many entrepreneurs, defining success can be a tricky exercise. Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone with a career all want to be successful but rarely engage with what exactly that means. Even more challenging is the idea of setting up applicable metrics to gauge their progress toward that success.

Looking back at my own career, there were a few goalposts I aimed for when defining my own sense of success. In the early years, success meant having more control over my life and never worrying about being replaced or passed over for promotion.

However, that definition of success has changed over the years. Now, success means having less stress, enjoying more time with family and friends, and being able to travel the world. The consensus among most experienced entrepreneurs is that money doesn’t define success, at least not on its own. 

The majority of entrepreneurs point to other milestones as markers of success, but their metrics for success demonstrate some hugely varied responses — feel-good buzzwords like “making a positive impact” and “building a legacy.”

And yet, as entrepreneurs, we need tangible ways of measuring success, not just fairy-tale sentiments. That said, the entrepreneur alone defines success.

Entrepreneurs must also understand the difference between a business being successful and a person being successful. An entrepreneur might achieve a profitable business while feeling unsuccessful in their personal life, but by setting your own success metrics, you can decide when you’ve reached success.

“The secret of success in every field is redefining what success means to you. It can’t be your parent’s definition, the media’s definition, or your neighbor’s definition. Otherwise, success will never satisfy you.” – RuPaul

Why are setting success metrics necessary?

Metrics define achievements, and having tangible metrics can help recognize success when it is attained or a goal when it’s completed. These signposts help us recognize success and feel a sense of achievement.

Metrics also help us adapt our expectations for success, which often comes at various stages in life. Case in point, success for a budding entrepreneur will mean something different for someone with years of experience.

For those determined to set down their standards for success, four concepts can help entrepreneurs actualize their goals.

Drive: The drive of an entrepreneur is an overarching idea encompassing the traits that allow them to pursue their goals and dreams, even in the face of failure. Drive can also mean never settling for less or second-best. Although this can have setbacks, second place isn’t always a bad place to be. While it depends on the industry, sometimes being the highest revenue earner can mean lower profits, bloated staff counts, and burnout. Don’t allow “drive” to become your sole measurement of success.

DisciplineOf course, we all know what this means — getting up and doing the grind even when you don’t want to. It means not just doing the work when it’s fun and exciting; it’s keeping control of your emotions and vision even as challenges try to pull your focus away. Self-discipline helps entrepreneurs manage their time and resources efficiently. Discipline can also mean having the discipline to realize I can always do better.

Adaptability: Having drive and discipline is great. Even with those traits, however, you must have the ability to adapt when faced with new facts and realities. Taking a failure and turning it into success is crucial to entrepreneurial success. Many entrepreneurs have failed because they continued pushing an idea despite mounting evidence that a change was needed.

Grit: This combines drive with passion. Without grit, an entrepreneurial idea can’t succeed. However, grit must be combined with adaptability to reach its potential. Conversely, while grit may be a leading factor in the success of your business, it doesn’t necessarily lead to personal success and happiness. Take time to smell the roses: it’ll make your achievements all the sweeter.

Developing these attributes provides a solid framework for conceptualizing success and establishing achievable goals.

A different definition of success

Success is measured by having time to do what you enjoy. Consider the following example: An entrepreneur makes $100 million every year but works 60-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year. Clearly, they’ve achieved financial success; however, this entrepreneur wishes they had more time to travel with their family. Have they found success?

Instead, a better measure of success here would be to set concrete goals, such as: “My goal is to be so successful in business that I can take two months off per year to travel or only work 20 hours a week.”

However, this is only an example; there is no one-size-fits-all metric for measuring success among different entrepreneurs. But since entrepreneurs agree that money is not always the best measure, consider measuring the time available to enjoy your favorite things.

Setting up your own success metrics

With all these characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, the key here is learning to apply them. Here are three strategies that consider your drive, discipline, adaptability, and grit. These can help you move from an “I want to be successful” attitude to an “I want to achieve this specific kind of success in this timeframe” mindset.

  1. Define success for yourself – The first and most important step in this process is to replace the word “successful” with a list of what you want to achieve. For example, do you want to get out of debt or have more time with your children? When exactly do you want to have these measures met in your daily life? Get specific with a timeline in which you want to achieve these goals.
  2. Success doesn’t come all at once – Entrepreneurs need to understand that success comes in stages. Every several years, evaluate your current goals, update your definition of success, and then work toward it again.
  3. Practice gratitude – Being content with what you’ve already achieved while still being driven to accomplish more is the key to happiness for an entrepreneur. If you aren’t content with what you have now, you won’t be content with what you have and accomplish in the future. Simply put, practicing gratitude is a must.

While the insatiable desire to do more is tantamount to what makes an entrepreneur, too many believe that success and happiness are always around the corner, never taking time to appreciate what they’ve already achieved. Without this recognition, they can become depressed, lose touch with their close relationships, and even burn out.

Don’t save the feeling of success for retirement. Entrepreneurs should strive to find a measure of personal success before they exit from the world stage. Remember, you define success for yourself.

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