In the midst of a long entrepreneurial journey, it can be difficult to tell whether your idea -- and more specifically, the way you execute it -- is going to be successful. But if any of these eight signs have crossed your path as of late, you may be on the right track.
1. You’re excited about your business.
Those who start businesses for the money or to please friends and family are likely to burn out -- or fall flat. The concept behind your business should be exciting from the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey to the end (even though it’s often said there isn’t an end at all).
You know you’re excited about your company when you talk about it obsessively with friends, when you can’t wait to get to work in the morning, or even when you feel a familiar warmth in your chest when you accomplish a minor business-related task. If you’ve lost touch with the “fun” side of starting a business, sit down and write out the reasons you started the company in the first place. What were your goals from the very beginning? Have you achieved any since then -- or are you close?
2. People are talking.
If your core idea is a good one (and it’s marketed well), people will talk about it. Check out the conversations circulating social media. If it doesn’t take hundreds of social media posts per week to get people commenting, sharing, tweeting and more, you’re doing pretty well.
Customers, clients and fans can discuss your brand silently as well by wearing T-shirts, boasting stickers and donning pins with your logo or catchphrase. People are eager to be the first to tell their friends about the “next big thing” -- conversation surrounding your business may mean it’s just that.
3. Your net income makes your overhead costs look reasonable.
When you’re first starting out, it can be painful to shell out money for web domains, logo design, product prototypes and other start-up costs. Your wallet gradually becomes thinner, and you wonder more than once if that money will ever come back. It often takes 12 to 36 months for businesses to be quite profitable, but if you’re drawing in disposable income before or at that stage, you’re on the right track. Keep careful records of your company’s finances. Once your loans and overhead costs seem a little less daunting, you’re doing just fine.
If you’re searching for ways to speed up the payback process on your business, remember that good branding goes a long way. My brother and business partner, Matthew, and I have pulled profits within only a few weeks after opening by leveraging well-designed business cards, media kits and websites.
If you’re preparing to sell an innovative new product, take a look at pre-selling through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Test the waters and deliver the best product through A/B split testing and surveys. Last but not least, always strive to keep costs low. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork help you find freelance work for less.
4. You’re willing and able to adapt to change.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that the world of business is fluid -- and so are the fields in which their products are services are encapsulated. Any business, no matter how big or small, will have to change along with the times. Those who don’t are denying themselves an opportunity to impress their customers and achieve long-term greatness.
For instance, several occupational domains are facing a digital revolution, such as the publishing industry with self-publishing and ebooks, education with computer math and reading programs, art with graphic design and more. Large publishing houses that don’t put out ebooks alongside traditional books, as well as teachers who deny their students the right to use a computer or tablet for their work, are considered behind the times. It’s clear that you’re on the path to success when you’re capable of adapting to the changes around you.
5. You welcome criticism.
No entrepreneur is capable of growing and enhancing their business if they can’t accept criticism for what it is -- free advice. Feedback often comes in unpleasant forms, but many times it identifies areas of improvement. If you’re able to receive criticism and turn it into positive change, you’re that much ahead of business owners who can’t. Develop a thick skin, and brush empty opinions off your back while absorbing the ones that offer valuable tips on how to polish your business.
6. You learn from your mistakes.
Successful people aren’t those who don’t make mistakes -- they’re the ones who learn from them. Much like welcoming criticism, successful entrepreneurs are capable of learning from their mistakes, and much like criticism, mistakes are lessons in disguise. Instead of wallowing in the false sense of failure that often surrounds a mistake, attempt to learn from it: What could you have done better? What obstacles could have been avoided?
Remember that because you don’t have time to make every mistake, you can also learn from the mistakes of those around you -- to learn by experience with no cost to your own business, network with your peers and discuss the things they wish they would have done differently. You’re already on the path to success if you consciously gain valuable lessons from your mistakes.
7. You’re capable of being grateful for what you have while still striving for more.
You’ll never be satisfied with your progress if you’re incapable of being grateful for what you already have. During the start-up process, ensure that you differentiate resources you already have from those you have to acquire. Perform brief check-ins with yourself or with your team every six months or so, paying close attention to the victories you’ve experienced that you worked so hard for.
Being thankful for what you have not only surrounds you and your company with positivity, but it will also keep things in perspective when you’re experiencing doubts about your abilities.
8. You don’t have regrets.
You likely jumped into the world of entrepreneurship knowing that it was one full of ups and downs. You’re more inclined to reap the rewards of success if you can acknowledge that even through the hardships starting a business has brought you, you don’t regret stepping foot into such a unique field of business. Those who are truly meant to be entrepreneurs love the hard work they put into their businesses no matter what results come from it -- the passion and energy that go into starting a company are enough of a reason to push forward regardless of circumstance.
It’s more than just “knowing” -- thousands of entrepreneurs sense shining success in their futures by encountering any of these eight tell-tale signs. When did you realize you’d be successful at what you do? What was the turning point of success for your business?