Create Your Own Definition Of Success (Audra Dinell) #SmallBusinessBasics

Audra Dinell

This piece is part of our Small Business Basics content series. Today’s piece by entrepreneur Audra Dinell centers around defining your own version of success before you set out to achieve it.

After you read, share with us:
What is your definition of success for your own business?

So you did the dang thing.

You left your 9-5 and you’re giving your social media business a real go.

First of all, GOOD FOR YOU. It takes serious guts—both courage and faith—to take that leap. Give yourself a big ol’ squeeze.

And then let’s get to work.

Because, trust me, the work will be coming. Once you hit your stride, it may even feel like someone turned the firehose on and you’re trying your best not to drown.

You might be thinking, “Well, that will be a good problem to have!” And having all of the opportunities will be a good problem, as long you know what success means to you.

Let’s dive into how you can get clear.

Craft your vision

“You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a Polaroid picture of where you’re going to be in a few years.” —Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

If you’re a visionary, this is the fun part.

Set aside some dedicated time to figure out what success really means to you in the season you’re in. Block off a few hours, go to your favorite place, grab your favorite beverage. Crank up your favorite playlist (or a soothing, meditative flow), then give yourself permission to just dream.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why did I start this business? What excites me the most about the work?
  • What are my values? How can I live those out in my business?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • How do I want my clients to feel when interacting with me?
  • What feelings do I want my marketing to evoke for potential clients?

Take a cue from Lizzo and really get into your feelings here. If you’re in the habit of pushing feelings down, take the time to dig into that in itself. There are several resources like this one that can help you tap into feelings basics and beyond so that you can truly determine what success feels like from the inside out.

And remember, our businesses ebb & flow just like our lives, so don’t get so intimidated by the largeness of defining your own success. Rather, define it for this season of business and of life. When my world is really busy, I even do this exercise on a monthly basis to ensure I’m acting out of clarity.

If you’re just starting out, success could look like being able to leave all other forms of income to be able to focus solely on your business. If you’re two years in, it could mean growing your team and putting the right people in place so that you can spend most of your working hours in your zone of genius.

Create one goal

Now you’re ready to take some action. Nothing, and I mean nothing will happen until you take action. So the next step is to set a goal.

Start your goal setting process by making a list of all of the actions you can think of that you believe will get you to your definition of success. This gets all the things out of your brain and onto some paper (or a Google doc).

What actions will allow you, your clients and your potential clients the opportunity to feel the way you desire?

Once you have this list written down, highlight the top five things that, by doing them, you believe provide you with the best chance of achieving the definition of success you’ve created for yourself. Then be ruthless and cross off all but one. Yes, cross off the good things you could do. Your aim here is to get to the one great thing.

Clue: This is usually not the easiest thing from that list.

I recently read the book The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and he poses the question this way:
“What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Once you have that, you have your goal. Congrats! Make sure to write it down.

Develop supportive habits

Now that you’ve set a goal, ask yourself:

  • What habits might you have that aren’t going to help you work towards your goal?
  • What habits do you need to develop to help you achieve your goal?

Consistency trumps perfection here. The smaller the habit, the better.

Say your goal is to work on your most important projects first thing, when you are fresh, but you are in the habit of checking your emails before you get out of bed. We’ve all been there; it can put you in a state of reactiveness, sprinting to put out fires first thing in the morning—or at the very least getting your wheels turning before you even have a chance to care for yourself and do some focus work.

This is a great opportunity to create a habit. In this situation, a new habit that would support your goal could be: putting your phone in another room at night (just don’t forget to buy an alarm clock!) or pausing your inbox(es) until a certain time of the day.

Next steps

If you’re a fan of time blocking, like I am, I suggest setting a regular date with yourself to review your definition of success, as well as measuring up how well you achieved it during the last season.

I have a standing quarterly review where this comes into play for myself and for my team. At a minimum, I would recommend doing this once a year. If you have a slow season in your business, perhaps you can schedule it then.

Ultimately, defining your own success can help you to stay encouraged in entrepreneurship. We can all get caught up in the comparison game, spend too much time in hustle mode and burn out. But if you personalize what success means to you, I believe you are less likely to get to that point.

Plus, it’s more fun to win when you’re doing it on your terms, right?

Happy creating!

Audra Dinnell @audra
Social Entrepreneur, Community Builder, Speaker & Founder of The Thread: Women’s Leadership Collective
Learn from Audra and other instructors in the Hive Certified Business program!

Check out the rest of our Small Business Basics Content Series!

Tell Us Below:

What is your own personal vision of success?