5 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask About Success

If you don't define it, how will you recognize it when it's happening for you?

learn more about Adam Toren

By Adam Toren

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Success is something we're all striving for at a basic human level. We need to be safe and fed, which is ultimately a huge driving factor in our desire for money as it provides a level of both of those needs. We also need love and accomplishment or acceptance, which can also be influenced in part by money.

It's easy to see why so many entrepreneurs might stop only at a level of income as being successful, or a number of headcount at their startup, but those aren't real metrics to measure yourself by forever. It's for exactly that reason you should really ask yourself what success means beyond just money to guide yourself toward true success as an entrepreneur.

1. How much money does success mean?

Of course you want to make money. We all do and that's part of the joy of entrepreneurship. No one would fault you for wanting to define a component of success with money, but what does that mean for you? It's OK to ask this question annually to see how your definition of success can change, but never sacrifice the other components of your vision at the altar of profits alone. That's how things such as Enron happen.

Related: The Question You Should Ask Yourself Every Day

2. Does success mean a relationship and how much time would that be as a component of my day, every day?

If love is one of the basic human needs we all need, then what part of your successful life will include time for relationships. Remember this isn't just about a spouse or partner, but also friends, family and other important relationships in your life.

Fostering authentic, supportive loving relationships takes time. As an entrepreneur, you may think that making money and working on your business trumps all else, and in some respects when you're starting out that will be true. However, you need to be sure to get this part of your life in check after you're operating or lose it by the wayside.

No entrepreneur is an island. Loving, trusting relationships with key people in your life will lead to a happier, more successful life. Decide how you want to carve out time to invest in this aspect of your success now, then take action.

3. Does success mean flexibility in my schedule and how much time would I want to work each day to be 'successful?'

Some people will leave behind the corporate world for the flexibility of entrepreneurship, only to find they're working longer and harder than they've ever worked in their lives. Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey. This can be particularly true in the early years of getting your business off the ground.

If you're looking for a part-time gig, entrepreneurship probably isn't for you. That being said, as you grow and your business scales, you are going to have more time to pick and choose your day. Do you want a lot of time in the office, or are you seeking the Tim Ferriss dream of working four hours a week remotely?

The kind of schedule you want will dictate the type of business you pursue and have a large impact on your success.

Related: 10 Success Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Business

4. How healthy will I be as a successful person and how much time does success allow me to devote to my health daily?

How successful will you really be if you're sick or unhealthy? You have to decide now and build into your life what lever of wellness you want to be a part of your total success. Make the commitment now to decide what kind of food you want to eat and what kind of movement you want to incorporate into your day, then commit to that routine.

Success isn't a destination, and neither is your health.

5. What vision will I have achieved to be successful and how do I define it now?

If you're only about profit, then the how of your bottom line won't be very important to your vision. However, if you have strong beliefs about the vision you want to create, think about that being incorporated into your success now.

Take Toms for example. If Toms had just wanted to make shoes, it would never have come up with the one-for-one giving that is so integral to the brand. Because its founder's vision was about giving back to communities in need, it was the giving back that was the most powerful motivator for the vision of success over the profits alone. This caused the company to have to make some crazy decisions in startup mode, like not marketing shoes through traditional and expensive outlets such as TV.

How will you define your vision and act toward it daily to reach true, self-defined success?

Related: Here's How Your Goals Are Holding You Back From Success

Adam Toren

Serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.

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