In our clearest moments, entrepreneurs know we don’t do it for the money. Money’s a part of it, sure. But money isn’t the main fuel for our fire.
We don’t start businesses to win accolades or to see our names accessorized with “Founder” or “CEO.”
We start businesses to change something: something in our own lives that we’d like to be doing differently; something we see our customers struggling with; something in the wider world that needs addressing.
What is the change you want to see?
And how will you know it’s happening?
I’ve long held that most business-planning and -strategizing processes begin with the wrong premise. Have you ever written a business plan? I have, and I experienced it as one of the most soul-sucking endeavours I’ve ever undertaken – because it’s all about the money. And while money is crucial to your business’s success, it’s only one part of the equation.
Business plans exist for one reason: to convince potential financial partners (lenders or investors) that you have a solid plan to earn them back their money, with interest. That’s all well and good if you need financial backing. There are other benefits to writing a business plan – or better yet, working with a business model canvas – but before you try to quantify every last thing about your business, how about connecting to your real goals?
Your real goal isn’t just to make money. It’s to make a change.
That’s what gets you up in the morning. That’s what actually fuels your business.
Understanding the change you seek is the prerequisite for your business plan.
(And that goes for those of you with established businesses, too.)
“Success” is another way of saying “the change you seek.”
We have a lot of ideas about the word success. It’s pretty loaded. But you get to define what success means to you. Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” That’s a pretty solid definition. What’s yours?
So many of us go through life with inherited notions of success – and often we’re not even conscious of them. We have ambitious but vague ideas about how much money we should be earning, how many employees we ought to have, the prestige and PR opportunities we will be showered with, and so on… when we’re successful. We daydream about status symbols and luxuries we’ll be able to afford… when we’re successful. We imagine the impact we’ll have… when we’re successful. But we don’t stop to ask ourselves what we really want, or what a successful life our way might look like.
And then we’re surprised when, a few years down the road, we’re drained and burned out, looking for an exit from the business we started. It may be “successful” by others’ standards, but we haven’t built it in a way that brings us closer to our version of success.
If you wanna get somewhere good, you gotta know what moves you.
So how do you dismantle the old definitions of success that don’t really work for you, and create your own? You can start by asking yourself, “What outdated myths about success am I ready to release?”
But if you want to go deeper, I have something for you that I’m really, really excited to share. I’ve partnered with Lynda.com – named one of the 4 hottest online learning tools for entrepreneurs by Fast Company – to create a self-paced, one-hour video course called “Defining Success” that’s all about getting you crystal-clear on your definition of success, so you can build a business that rocks your socks… and that supports you in experiencing success your way. (And that’s the only kind of success that actually matters.)
I’m so proud of this creation – it’s my first video course, and working with the uber-pros at Lynda.com was a dream. This course comes from my heart, from 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur – and from my deep desire to see more entrepreneurs living richly satisfying, joyful lives. The full title is “Running a Web Design Business: Defining Success” – although I designed the course to be valuable to any entrepreneur, no matter what kind of business you’re building.
The cost? $25. (Yes, you read that right.) And with that – it’s a monthly subscription service, but you can sign up for a single month of access if that’s all you want – you also get access to Lynda.com’s entire library of video courses, which includes more than 2,000 different topics.
(I mean, hey, if you don’t want to sign up for my sake, do it to get your hands on David Allen teaching “Getting Things Done” – it’ll be the best $25 + 47 minutes you spend all month, and your to-do list will thank you.)
Get clear on your definition of success, and your business plan will flow. Skip this step, and you could find yourself lost in the weeds and wondering why your business just doesn’t feel as satisfying as you’d hoped.
I can’t wait to hear how you define success.