If you’re running a business, whether it has only a handful of employees or payroll stretches into the millions every month, it’s important to understand what success means. A vision of success looks very different for different businesses: it varies based on your industry, your location, your scale and your personal ambitions. What you think success means for you and your business might prove to be very different to the aspirations of your closest competitor!
Your vision of success is important because it helps you plan for the future, it gives you an ultimate goal to work towards. If you don’t have an overarching vision of what a successful business will look like, it’s hard to recognise failure when it threatens, and to decide if any given plan is more effective than any other.
It also makes it hard to get help for your business. If you’re looking to hire a strategy consulting expert, a growth hacker or even just a lawyer, they’re all going to know what you want. If you don’t know, you limit the effectiveness of the help they can give.
Researching your Market
When you’re deciding what success looks like to you, it’s important to know the size of the market you’re playing in. This determines the ultimate limits of your potential for growth, both physically and financially. In some fields, there may practically be no horizon to your ambitions (Amazon, for example, continues to grow and grow with only it’s previous personal bests as a competitor). The more specialist your business, the smaller your niche and the more possible it is to set targets you can’t fulfil.
There are lots of different ways to research your market: you can look at the publicly available figures for the biggest companies in your field (publicly traded companies are obliged to post these results), look at the search volume for the most important search terms for the industry, or if you have the capital, commission studies from market research agencies.
Your Own Goals
People get into business for different reasons, and these determine what success looks like for you. Part of coming up with a strategy is spending some time thinking deeply about what you want, and why you’ve launched yourself down this risky but rewarding path.
If your models are the current titans of industry, the Bezos and Musks of this world, then your vision of success is growth – to transcend any single industry and become a brand, a platform. It’s being realistic about how likely success is here: few achieve billionaire status without building on a millionaire’s foundation.
If your goals are more modest – to simply build a successful business that will provide for you and (if necessary; if you wish), your children, then your plans are no less important, and help from consultants can be very useful. Knowing this helps you builds for success in one year, five years, ten and more.