What is Business Success?

Is your business successful? How do you know whether it is or isn’t? First, you need to know what success looks like.

Traditional Definition of Success

Traditionally we tend to think of success along the lines of achieving goals, obtaining wealth, favorable outcome, or something similar. We even refer to someone who has done this as a success. Let’s look a little closer.

Some Examples

In sports the pinnacle of success is winning a national title, a championship, or a medal such as the gold medal in the Olympics. In business we might consider success as hitting a sales or profit goal, acceptance of a new product offering, or developing a better way to accomplish something. My question is, “Do any of the above adequately represent success, are they just a part of success, or are they really just mileposts?”

Success Viewed Another Way

Suppose a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl. If that is the ultimate success in their area, why don’t they just stop there? Why come back for the next season? Okay, I know there is the issue of continuing to earn significant pay, but some of the players and coaches probably already have plenty of financial resources. So, what else brings them back season after season? If a company captures the majority of a market with a new product offering, is that the ultimate in business success? Other than remaining competitive, is there perhaps another reason they continue to work on additional similar products in the same market? I think we need to view success in a broader way.

Success Redefined

First, let me say that I am not trying to deny any of the above achievements are a success. But, think about it. If you have ever experienced a major achievement, just how long did the good feelings last? If we only focus on whether we accomplished the objective or goal as defining success, then how should we to view everything it took to get there? Is all of that just a boring routine that means nothing unless it ends by accomplishing a goal? While not denying the reality and importance of accomplishing our goals, perhaps we need to look at the day-to-day activities as being an important part of success. By that I mean such things as:

  • Are we acting with the utmost of integrity in our endeavors, even if doing so may prevent or delay achieving goals? See Principle Based Decisions for some thoughts on this
  • Are we personally growing and helping others to do the same?
  • Are we attempting to make a meaningful contribution over and above any financial rewards or honors?

This list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. We need to embrace how we act in our daily work and personal life as being a measure of success as well. If someone is able to dramatically improve profits but only by falsifying information, is that really business success?

In the personal arena I remember a particular tennis match that was competitive the whole time we were on the court. About halfway through the match I commented to one of our opponents that no matter the eventual winner, this was fun for all four of us. Afterwards, as I looked back over the match I realized that the things that really stood out were good sportsmanship, honest calls, and the compliments each side gave the other. I won’t say who won as it is not the point I am making. What did matter the most was that at the end of the day, all four players had a smile on their face. Winning or losing had not ended up being the only or even most important thing. The process and how it was conducted was the real success. Yes, who won mattered, but without the correct way of operating it would somehow seem shallow.

Are you experiencing moment-by-moment personal and business success? If not, perhaps it’s time to redefine what you consider success. Obtaining riches and awards is not a lasting success. In the Bible in Mark 8:36 Jesus says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Think about that as you go about your day.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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