Brand & Marketing Strategy

What Does Success Mean to You and Your Small Business?

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Success is something we all want to achieve, but have you ever stopped to think exactly what “success” means to you and your small business?

It isn’t always about making lots of money or creating a huge, international company. Often, success can mean doing something you love and creating a small business that works for you and your loved ones.

So ask yourself: What are your goals and what kind of success is important to you?

Time to Reflect

Finding the time to reflect can be really difficult for many small business owners. But to keep things going in the right direction, it’s vital to pause now and again to look at where you are, and remember why you started in the first place.

So whether you’re three months into a new venture, or thirty years into a family business, taking the time to focus on what really matters can be a huge turning point. I’d encourage you to work this into your diary every few months, so you don’t forget!

How to define success for your small business

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There are lots of different ways to define success, and these will vary depending on the type of business you have. It also depends on your lifestyle, your goals and what you hope to achieve with your small business long-term.

Have a think about all of these factors and determine which ones are most important to you and your small business.

For example, success can mean…

  • Earning lots of money and running a highly profitable business
  • Being flexible and independent, having the freedom to shape your business around your life and other commitments
  • Doing what you love and spending every day enjoying your work
  • Making a difference, whether that’s through helping people, doing something unusual or changing the way people do things
  • Not having to work anymore, once your business gets to the point where you can hire staff to manage everything for you
  • Being able to travel the world and not be tied down to a regular 9-5 job

Make a list of reasons why you started your small business in the first place, which aspects are particularly important to you and what you’d like to achieve with it. That’ll help you define what success means to you.

Find out about the 10 things I’ve learned by running my own small business.

How to achieve success for your small business

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Success doesn’t happen overnight. If it did, everyone would have their own business! Being a small business owner is hard work, but it is also very rewarding and it’s possible to have a thriving, successful business if you put plenty of time and effort into making it work.

However, in order to maximise your chances of success, it’s important to evaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it:

1. Think about your motivations

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What made you want to start your small business in the first place? Was it because you were tired of being stuck in an office with a boss who undervalued you?

Or was it because you had an amazing idea that could change people’s lives? Or perhaps you felt like you weren’t earning enough money?

The daily grind and external pressures can make us lose sight of this. Taking the time to remember what made you start your small business can help you rediscover your passion!

2. Think about your goals

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What do you want to achieve with your small business? Maybe you want to be known for collaborating with like-minded creative businesses on interesting projects.

Perhaps you want to be able to fit your work around looking after your children, or you want to become the director of the company who has the staff to deal with the day-to-day running of the business?

Remember – the “goals” people discuss on social media won’t necessarily reflect your list. And that’s okay! You don’t have to tick the boxes anyone else suggests in order to be “successful”.

3. Stick to your guns

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Once you’ve determined what your motivations and goals look like, you’ll be able to see which aspects of success matter the most to you.

If making lots of money is important to you, that’s great. But equally, if you just want to be happy and do something you enjoy for a lower salary than you used to earn before you were self-employed – that’s success too!

Always remember that success looks completely different for different people. There’s no point comparing yourself to the success of other small businesses because it’s likely that their motivations and goals are nothing like yours.

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Whatever success means to you, it’s important to reflect on how far you’ve come. Whatever the reason for starting your own small business, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. Running your own business is hard work – you deserve to recognise that!

If you love hearing small business success stories – be sure to check out my series of Small Business Interviews for some inspiration!


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Set Goals for Your Small Business in 4 Steps
How to Grow Your Small Business & Keep on Track
10 Things I’ve Learned by Running My Own Small Business
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.