Your First 5 Signs of Success You know that tiny bell that rings in your brain when for the first time someone says, 'Oh! You're that business that. . .'?

By Jess Ekstrom

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Headbands of Hope | Facebook

I remember the day I launched my company, Headbands of Hope. I was in college at the time, so I remember checking my website during classes, hoping that someone had purchased a headband. To my dismay, the only orders placed came, first, from my mom, and then other family members who followed.

However, as I grew my brand, little signs appeared, giving me hope that it was becoming successful. Looking back now, I realize how important it was for me to believe in those signs and use them as fuel to keep going.

Related: Success Is Never an Accident. It's a Choice.

Here are some early signs of success you too should be proud of:

1. Your first unknown customer.

I remember exactly where I was standing when I got an order notification and didn't recognize the name. It was such a special moment to know that somewhere out there, someone who didn't know me believed in my product enough to purchase it. That can be the first indication that your company is going viral.

2. Your first article or press hit.

I still have my first article about Headbands of Hope framed above my desk. It was published in my school paper (I was still a student), and I remember classmates and friends congratulating me and asking questions about my business. Even though it was a small paper and we've been in national publications since, that first press mention still remains my most special media moment.

3. Your first paycheck

When I first started my business, my dad was helping me with the accounting side. I didn't really know if and when we would become profitable, because he told me to focus my time and energy on creating the best company I could. If I could do that, he said, the numbers would come.

My dad was right: The first time I earned a paycheck, he put it on my desk with a yellow Post-it note saying, "Congratulations on your first paycheck!" That note meant more to me than the paycheck ever did.

Related: 8 Great Entrepreneurial Success Stories

4. The first time someone's 'heard' of your business

One of the coolest feelings comes from telling someone what you do, and learning that he or she has actually heard of your business. This person needn't be your most frequent customer or know everything about your business plan.

But just the fact that someone knows you exist rings a little bell in your brain as he or she says, "Oh, yes! You're the business that…"

5. The first time you see your product in the 'wild'

If you have a tangible product that people wear or use, other special moments come when you see it in "the wild" unexpectedly. My own first moment occurred at Starbucks: The girl in front of me was wearing one of my headbands!

If you have an ecommerce site, you sometimes never get the chance to see your customers with your product(s). So, when you see someone wearing your product, you know your brand is working.

Related: What It's Like When You Finally See Your Idea-Turned-Product on Store Shelves

Jess Ekstrom

CEO and Founder of, Speaker and Author.

Jessica Ekstrom founded Headbands of Hope when she was a senior in college in 2012. She created the company to bring joy back to kids who have lost their hair and help fund childhood cancer research. Headbands of Hope has given tens of thousands of dollars to childhood cancer research and has donated headbands to every children's hospital in the United States.

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