THE BLOG

How To Define Success in Business

09/26/2014 03:49 EDT | Updated 11/26/2014 05:59 EST

We all strive for professional success. Success generally means achieving a scoreboard-based goal like jogging for 10 minutes, winning a game or growing sales. Concentrated effort is required for those achievements. To run ten minutes start by doing one. Which minute is more important? The first or the tenth? The fame and Ferrari may come after the tenth, but each minute jogged is equally important as the one before it. It's impossible to jog the tenth minute without the first nine.

Scoreboard-based goals are dangerous. Anyone, yourself included, that has "succeeded" on a scoreboard-based goal (like jogging 10 minutes or selling $10 million worth of "How to use a VCR" DVDs) felt emotions of relief and emptiness once the initial happiness disappeared. You're done and now on to the next goal (11 minutes or $20 million in DVD sales). Your definition of success changes as the numbers escalate. You'll feel worse when the Kryptonian next to you is going twice as fast with the audacity to jog 20 minutes. No matter how good you are, there is always someone better.

Every business loves more sales, but most businesses don't realize that means longer hours, greater accountability and more responsibility. You risk losing your work-life balance. Do you only equate money with success?

Most small-business owners have a magic number of customers they can realistically handle. Those customers contribute 80 per cent of the business' revenue and daily workload. Owners focus on the negative effect if that number drops, but few consider the danger increasing it may have. Isn't it best to find that magic number that challenges you every day, provides a healthy income and time for a life? Deep-down most business owners know that number.

Focus on the processes in your business. Not the end-result. The owner of my favorite restaurant, an eccentric multi-millionaire, runs the go-to place in town. A success in scoreboard terms. The money is a by-product of his effort to make the best dishes possible. His marketing strategy is simple; if people like his dishes they'll come back and bring guests. His fear is the taste of his food deteriorating. Not sales decreasing. He welcomes competition, and loves doing new things to keep his kitchen sharp. He doesn't have a website, barely speaks English and didn't do any market testing before opening his restaurant 25 years ago. I'm not suggesting you take your website down and ignore due diligence, but focus on what makes you great and become a master of your craft. That will answer the question of why people should use your product or service. Sales tends to take care of itself. Diamonds shine no matter where they are.

Scoreboard-based goals are rooted from peer pressure to be big. You're shrinking if you're not growing. Right? Remind critics that Stanford doesn't admit all applicants (even though more students means more money). They define success by the quality, not quantity, they admit.

Strive for daily improvement. You can base improvement on whatever metric you want, but sales alone is short-sighted. Respect the process, value its authenticity and appreciate the journey. Crawl before walking and walk before running. A commitment to daily improvement is just as important as when the goal is achieved. The scoreboard is deceiving. You're business isn't shrinking or growing.

It's evolving.

About The Author

Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan, a digital marketing and software company. Computan serves as the digital department for numerous businesses throughout the globe ranging from start-ups to multinationals.

He has a degree in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and MBA from Eastern Illinois University. Sajeel plays tennis well enough to convince the untrained eye that he knows what he is doing and poor enough that the trained eye submits him to a drug test.