Define What Success Looks Like to You

Success can mean different things to different people but the key is to envision what it means and act on it.

learn more about Melanie Spring

By Melanie Spring • Apr 4, 2015 Originally published Apr 4, 2015


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Success in business means something different to everyone. Hitting a specific amount in revenue, having a certain number of employees, owning a home, purchasing a dream car, having a certain amount of money in the bank, providing for their family, staying at only five-star hotels or even just accomplishing their big dream are just a few ways people define success.

To get there, entrepreneurs typically start with a vision for their company and their life. They set goals and work toward achieving them. They know what they want to accomplish and have created a plan. Tirelessly, they work the plan to achieve success. Still, there are many have never envisioned what success looks like.

When I started my company, the only vision I had was for Sisarina to take care of me. For the first four years, I worked endless hours building a team and a brand that people wanted to work for and with. We did big things and loved working together. But by year five, we had hit the highest revenues, most employees, and I hit a wall of exhaustion. That was when my outlook on the business changed. Working those endless hours forever was not part of my vision.

Related: 5 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask About Success

By the time we hit six years, our team was smaller, our revenues were down but our brand was solid and we were more focused than ever. We had been refining who we wanted to be and were on our way to more growth. And I felt like a huge failure, because we weren't bigger and making more money.

An entrepreneur friend had to hit me over the head and remind me that we had already been a huge success. Our company was in the tiny percentage of woman-owned businesses that hit over half a million dollars in revenue over the course of a year. It just didn't feel like a success because money hadn't been part of my definition of success. I had never actually defined success for the company or myself. We had goals, a vision, and a plan but no definition for success. That was the moment I realized that if entrepreneurs don't set a plan for success, we will never feel successful.

Here is how to define what success means to you:

Read your business vision.

The vision you have for your company may change over time. Ask yourself if your vision is still the same as it was when you started. Ask yourself honestly if you will always be in charge and what your team will look like. Figure out how your business will look, feel, and act when it's all grown up. Having a clear vision allows you to define success.

If you've never written a business vision, write one now. Picture one day in your life five or 10 years from now and write about it like you're writing a story explaining everything about that day in your business. The smells, the place you're sitting, the people you work with, the revenues and products or services, everything.

Related: 5 Things About Overcoming Adversity That Athletes Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Write what success looks like for your life.

Just like your business vision, figure out what you want to accomplish in life. Pretend you're at the end of your life and you are looking back. Ask yourself where you went, what you did, where you lived, who was in your life, what did you do for others and what your life felt like. Think about how you want to be remembered and write it all down.

Make sure your business goals fit your life goals.

Work and life are so intertwined these days. Your business goals affect your personal life. Maybe you want to have a certain number of employees and revenue, but how does that fit with your personal goals? Compare the two visions and make sure they run parallel. If they don't, adjust.

Keep a daily journal of successes.

Buy yourself a five-year journal. Each page has six lines for one day of five years. Every day, fill in those lines with what you've accomplished. Every day read the years before. You'll be amazed at how much progress you're making, but you'll also see where you're getting stuck over and over.

Celebrate every success – especially the little ones.

Take that big vision of success and create levels to keep you excited about moving forward. Every time you hit a level of success, ring the bell! Celebrate! Every new client, employee, weekend you don't work, morning you wake up happy and month you hit your revenue goals throw yourself a little party. And make sure your team joins in. The more positive energy you infuse in every little step toward success will create momentum all around you.

Related: Forget Your Team. How to Motivate Yourself to Succeed.

Melanie Spring

Chief Inspiration Officer of Sisarina

As the Chief Inspiration Officer of Sisarina, a D.C.-based branding firm, Spring built her business with a strong content marketing strategy. With an innate sense for social media, connecting with her customers, and building a culture around her brand, she teaches businesses and non-profits how to rock their brand. She also recently toured the U.S. on the Live Your Brand Tour collecting stories from businesses living their brand.

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