Ah, the entrepreneurial spirit. It drives people to do incredible things, build amazing products, solve huge problems, and change the world. But what makes an entrepreneur successful? That’s where a lot of people disagree.
Success is different, depending on the person. Your reason for starting a business may differ from someone else’s. So when you’re defining success, it comes down to asking the question, “What motivated me when I decided to jump in with both feet?” Once you have the answer, use it as your guiding light.
If you feel like you’ve wandered off the path you started on, it’s time to engage in some self-reflection and define what success means to you. This guide will help you do that. Here are seven common success metrics for entrepreneurs and how to identify whether they apply to you.
When you hear the most successful entrepreneurs talk about what they value most, you’ll almost never hear them say money. They probably find it gauche even to suggest that this could be a motivating factor.
But, chances are, they did indeed get into it for the money — at least at first. Once you have it and no longer have to worry about it, your goals can turn loftier. But until you have money, you don’t have the freedom to enjoy all of the other things the entrepreneurial lifestyle has to offer.
Money creates time, frees up your mind, and allows you to go wherever and do whatever you want. It’s the key to the other benefits of entrepreneurship, and until you hit a certain threshold, it will consume your focus.
Signs that money is of chief importance to you:
- You think about traveling and enjoying certain luxuries.
- You’re constantly drawing up long-term income projections.
- To you, the more lucrative a product offering, the better, and its impact on society is of lesser importance.
Recognition and influence
Some people want to be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk — people who influence not only the business world but the culture as well. If you’ve always dreamed of standing out in the crowd, entrepreneurship is a good way to do it — provided you hit it big.
Once you do, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a name for yourself. People will want to interview you, you can write books dispensing advice, or you can create your own media platform.
Signs that recognition and influence are of chief importance to you:
- You constantly wonder what other people think about your business and ideas.
- You seek the advice and mentorship of other successful entrepreneurs.
- You dream about presenting TED Talks about your story or being interviewed in major media.
Making the world a better place
Most entrepreneurs dream of improving the world for the better. In fact, if you want to think like an entrepreneur, this is where your head should be — it’ll guide you to that winning solution.
They may want to become philanthropists or create a product or service that solves a major problem, or perhaps they just want to become a voice for change through their company. Entrepreneurship is an avenue through which you can spot something amiss in the world and find a solution to it.
Signs that making the world a better place is of chief importance to you:
- You prioritize products that have a positive impact on the world over ones that are more likely to bring in bigger profits.
- You dream about some tangible improvement in people’s quality of lives because of something you created.
- You obsess over important issues in the world and ruminate on solutions.
One of the most underrated benefits of entrepreneurship is time. Of course, that isn’t true at first. When you start out as an entrepreneur, time is what you have the least of.
But when you reach a certain financial threshold, and you can start to pull back from your business to allow others to run it, your time is freed up for the things that you find enjoyable or important. You get to choose how to spend that time rather than allow other people and circumstances to choose for you.
Signs that time is of chief importance to you:
- You dream about relaxing in an easy chair with a glass of lemonade and not a care in the world on a weekday.
- You crave a future where you can ignore your email for weeks on end without worrying about it.
- You think mostly about how you can carve out more time for activities with your family.
Entrepreneurship that leads to success leads to money, and money leads to freedom. When you have infinite resources at your disposal, it’s like a skeleton key that unlocks the world. There’s nowhere you can’t go, nothing you can’t do, and no one you can’t meet.
Want to take the next plane to Iceland and spend a month there? You can do that. Want to meet the Rolling Stones? You can probably use your extensive resources to get some backstage passes at a concert pretty easily. Want a mansion in a Caribbean paradise? Just call up a real estate agent and pay in cash.
Signs that freedom is of chief importance to you:
- You dream about traveling to the ends of the earth whenever you want.
- You’re always looking forward to vacation time when no one is checking up on you.
- You have so many other things you want to do beyond work, which you think is holding you back from living a full life.
Self-worth is another big motivator for those who desire to become entrepreneurs. Becoming a successful businessperson makes them feel good about themselves. They’ve done something very few people have been able to do. They’ve proven their worth. They’ve demonstrated they can overcome any obstacle. For some, that’s a better feeling than the money, the time, or the freedom.
Signs that self-worth is of chief importance to you:
- You question whether you’re actually good at what you do — e.g., imposter syndrome.
- You constantly have what you feel at the time are good ideas for products, but enthusiasm eventually turns to doubt.
- You wonder if you are naive thinking that you can succeed as an entrepreneur.
Loving your work
If you’ve been stuck in a dead-end job doing something you hate your entire career, entrepreneurship seems appealing. Finally, you can do something you feel is important and get paid to do it. That’s why many people who get into entrepreneurship don’t quit even after they become rich — they love what they do too much and want to spend the rest of their lives doing it.
Signs that loving your work is of chief importance to you:
- You dream of a day when you wake up on a Monday looking forward to getting to work.
- You hate boredom more than anything else.
- You’re constantly procrastinating.
What motivates you? Understanding that is key
Does it really matter what motivates you to be an entrepreneur? Actually, it does. Entrepreneurship is a grind, so whatever you can hold onto to give you motivation is key for getting through the difficult times.
If time is what you value, think about the extra hours each day you could have with your family doing activities that are meaningful if you are able to succeed as an entrepreneur. If making the world a better place is of chief importance to you, think about all the people you’ll help if you’re successful. If you just want to love what you do, think about enjoying your workday for once as a motivation to keep going.
In the meantime, check out some tips for entrepreneurs, and don’t forget that your journey will not be an overnight one. Keep your eyes on the prize and remember why you took this path to begin with. Persistence will pay off eventually, as long as you remember what you’re fighting for.