A recent conversation with a good friend got me thinking about success, what it means to me, and what it may look like to others. And since this topic is something I’ve seen a lot of small business owners dwell on and possibly struggle with, I thought it would be good to pen my thoughts and share with you all. Success is an ever-changing term when you are starting a small business, isn’t it? Every small victory brings you closer to what YOU define as being successful. From creating your website to booking that first client… every little step is precious and brings you closer to that goal!
So, what is YOUR definition of success? If you don’t know it yet, I encourage you to WRITE it down. This will give you a clear goal to work towards which will encourage you to keep going, even when there are negative people in your path. Also know that your definition of success may keep changing as your work and family life evolve, and that’s okay!
Here is what mine looks like, in a nutshell:
“My small business to me means no limits on my potential. It’s about creating something I can be proud of every single day and that others will love and enjoy. It’s about doing the work that I’m so passionate about. It’s about attending my kids’ school parties and being home to cook dinner. It’s about celebrating milestones, creating memories, loving on people, having fun and cultivating a life that my family and I can enjoy together. My life and my business are completely intertwined in one big, pretty and sometimes messy bow, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”Does this mean that my business is a non-profit? Am I happy working for no revenue? Of course not! IDEA! event + style is a steadily growing business! What it means is that success and fulfillment come in many different forms besides money. And those specific forms have no price tag attached, there is no way to monetize them!
Let me list just a few ways that my small business is successful not just for me, but for my family as well:
Flexible hours: I work from home, at the exact hours that my kids are in school or in bed. I am able to control my meetings, client conversations and projects so that I am available to drop and pick them up from school and various other after-school activities. This means I don’t have to depend on a babysitter or after school care! If you are a parent, you know you’d pay any kind of price for that flexibility.
School events: My kids are 8 and 3. To date, I haven’t missed a school play, ballet recital or class party. THAT is absolutely priceless to me and my kids alike. How does one add that to their profit and loss sheet?
School lunches: One of my absolute favorite things to do is to surprise my second grader at lunch time. I take my own lunch and pop into the seat next to him, and we have a fabulous mid-day break together for 30 precious minutes! That shy smile as Neil sees me coming down the cafeteria? That to me means a successful day as a working-from-home mompreneur!
Daddy days: The nature of my business means I have to work certain weekends. Since my husband and myself both don’t entertain the idea of babysitters/nannies, we work our schedules around the weekends I need to go set up events, and he plans a fun activity day with the kids! Everyone is happy with a train ride, a museum visit and an ice cream cone. It turns into an exclusive “daddy day” and our kids LOVE it!
Home management: Since I work from home, it means I can take care of small issues that crop up constantly. This helps in leaving our evenings and weekend family time relatively free to have fun and relax, rather than worry about calling the plumber to fix that pesky leak. Unfortunately, these are things that office-working-couples have to deal with on weekends!
Besides all of these, there are so many unlisted benefits of owning my business and controlling how much I pour myself into it. Sure, I could let it grow like a weed and earn more revenue. But that would crowd into my personal and family time, it would mean I am now stressed about doing homework and activities with my kids. It would mean saying NO to cooking dinner for friends on a weeknight. It would mean not being able to take a random day off, just because! That is NOT my definition of success.
Quoting my friend Kelly Dellinger “Rich to me is not a number. It is about having enough, without having to worry about needing more. It is contentment. It is being able to prioritize the things that matter and toss away the rest.” So beautiful and so true. I would rather be rich by my relationships and experiences, not just by money. Have you ever read the top 5 regrets people have on their deathbeds? Not one has to do with money.
In short, don’t let SOMEONE ELSE’S definition of success obscure your path. Surround yourself with positive people. Know that your path is different, unique and one that specifically works for you and your family. And that is all that matters.