You must define, early on, what success for your company means to you. You are not required to measure success by revenue, profit, growth, number of employees or any of the traditional metrics. You may have a different view from common, societal definitions of a successful company. As the owner, you get to decide the success criteria, within the boundaries of corporate survival.
While different for everyone, for me, a successful company places primary importance on meaning, purpose and quality of life – for the founders, for the employees, for the customers, for the suppliers and for the community. If I am going to work hard (and entrepreneurship is hard work), I want to ensure meaning and purpose weigh in alongside generating cash.
If success to you is purely monetary, then chase that. But I doubt it really is. The desire for more money is just a proxy for something else we want.
Money is the first derivative of our truer desires.
Alternatively, your business can be a social institution and an instrument for positive change in the world, if you want it to be – if this is how you define success. That said, I would be remiss if I did not mention this definition of corporate success might result in less money. There’s often a trade-off like that. Such is life.
My point is that you should define a successful outcome for your company before you get mired in the operational activities of growing your business. Understanding your desired outcome will (and should) shape your approach to business, contour your corporate demeanor and ultimately, help guide your strategic initiatives.
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