Published On: Tue, Jan 23rd, 2018

Why Success Isn’t as Straightforward as You Think It Is

For some reason, a lot of people believe that success is a great thing that can do no wrong. They dream of the day they become a successful business owner or they think about what they’ll do with their money once they’re successful. However, it’s easy to spot someone that’s never once seen success because these are the types of thoughts that manifest in their minds.


The truth is; success is often scarier than failure. It sounds counterintuitive, but after reading this article and understanding the points that we’ll be making, you’re going to have a much better understanding of why failure isn’t as scary as you think, and why success is actually deceptive.



What Makes Success So Deceptive?

Many people have a hard time grasping why success is actually so deceptive and why it takes a trained business mind in order to fully grasp what success is. It’s usually the people that haven’t studied businesses or the ones that think that money is the only determining factor to measure success. Unfortunately, this type of mentality is everywhere and it’s one of the biggest problems when attempting to start a business.

First of all, success is difficult to measure. If you think about it, success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. If you have business goals, then reaching them is a good enough reason to say you’re successful–or is it? Let’s assume that your goal was to start a business and stay afloat for at least 6 months. It’s actually fairly easy to do this especially if your business doesn’t serve many customers or doesn’t require much money to run. In fact, you could technically run a business indefinitely as long as the products were cheap to make and you had a continuous stream of customers.

But is that really success? Is staying afloat, if only for 6 months, really the definition of success in your eyes? Most people wouldn’t be content with just being alive for half a year–they want more. And this is where the first problem lies: how do you define or measure success?



Building Your Own Goals

The first problem we should tackle is building goals. Many people go into business without defined goals and this can seriously hinder your progress. In order to actually meet business goals, it’s important to define them in as much detail as possible. Be extremely specific and don’t leave out a single thing. Successful businesses start and end with their goals, so use it as a way to define your type of business and how you plan to grow, stabilize and promote your business.

To give you some examples, we’ve put together a couple of common business goals and we’re going to explain what they are, how they work and how they could apply to your business as well. Keep in mind that business goals are extremely personal and not everyone is going to follow the same ideals, but these examples will be a good start, albeit a little generic.



  • Making a profitable company. Perhaps the simplest goal is to focus on is creating a profitable company. A company that simply exists to make you money to and to support your way of life or your family. It’s a humble but valid goal that teaches you foundation skills such as how to be a leader, how to take advantage of trends and how to handle business growth.
  • Serving an audience you are a part of. There are times when you want to start a business because you want to serve an audience that you are also part of. For instance, you might want to start a company that is solely focused on translating foreign videos and movies. Your passion for doing this might be because you love watching them, so it shows that you’re interested in your work instead of being detached from it.
  • Growing your company to a certain size. A goal that you might have at the start of your company is to grow your business to a certain size. Maybe this means having x employees or y capital, or it could literally be the physical size of your company.
  • Passing down the business to the next generation. If you’re a family person then you might have the goal of passing down your business in mind. For instance, if you run a restaurant then you may want to make it stable enough so that you can easily pass it down to your children when they come of age. You might teach them all of your recipes or you might tutor them on how to run the company. Either way, starting a business for the sake of passing it down to the next generation is a goal to be proud of.
  • Developing new technologies and making them mainstream. If you’re more focused on being able to make a difference in the world, then you might define success as introducing new technologies to the world and making them mainstream. A good example of this would be the rise of Apple and Android phones, two competitors that completely changed the world. Another good example would be researching how to make certain tasks easier such as driving cars, commuting or even producing renewable energy.
  • Expressing your creative passions through your products. Success doesn’t always need to be about money. Sometimes, success can be defined by unleashing your creative passions and showing the world what is possible. This is the sort of goal that a creative business would have, but it’s also a common goal for freelance artists or illustrators.
  • Providing a better future for the next generation. As mentioned before, businesses don’t need to be about making money. Sometimes, starting a business can just be because you’re passionate about something or because you want to help people in need. Charities and other similar organizations are successful business when they manage to help their target audience. Whether it’s aiming to cure the world of poverty or just providing shelter for the homeless, providing a better future for the next generation is a noble goal to have as a business.


Without a business goal, it’s virtually impossible to be successful. You need to be incredibly diligent and dedicated to your goal, so it’s important to define one as early as you can.



The Uncertainty of Success

Many people don’t realize that success is something that you can fear as well as embrace. People often say that failure is important especially if you want to learn how to create a thriving business. This is because failure teaches you how to cope with changes in your business and it also helps you grow your future companies. In contrast, success doesn’t really tell you much about how your business is operating.


This is because success is hard to determine. Just because you’re making a lot of profit and rolling in sales, does it necessarily mean that you’re doing something correctly? It doesn’t.


Let’s put it this way; if you’re selling a lot of products, do you ever stop to think how or why? There are a couple of good reasons that could explain the high number of sales you have. For starters, it might just be the initial hype surrounding your product. Perhaps you’ve done something that no other company has thought of, or maybe you’re specifically targeting a niche. It could also be that your business is seasonal. Maybe you get a lot of business during certain months and perhaps for the rest of the year, you don’t get many customers at all.


There are far too many factors that can determine the success of your business and you don’t learn as much from succeeding as you do failing. It sounds completely counterintuitive, but failures are required if you want to learn because it’s a faster way of realizing where you went wrong. When you’re only succeeding and making plenty of sales, it’s difficult to pinpoint what you can do to improve your company.


In order to counteract this, it’s important to have a solid business plan. A business checklist is one of the first things that you should create when you’re starting up a business because it can help you keep your business on track. Mapping out a path for your company can help ensure that your focus is never fleeting. It helps you understand where you are in your plan and it gives you new goals to aim for at all times. You’ll never feel lost with a business plan and you’ll always have something to aim for even if you think you’re successful.




To summarise the article, the idea is that you’re never going to create a successful business if you don’t define what success is. Having a goal and a business plan is just the start, but it’s also important to think about where you plan to be in five, ten or even twenty years time. Success isn’t just a linear equation; everyone has their own idea of what it means to them, hence why it’s not as straightforward or simple to understand as one might think.



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