There’s been a discussion popping up recently in my own life and my own business-friend groups. It’s put me into a bit of an introspective mode, where I’ve just been brewing over the layout of my business, my goals, and my success. It took some time, some mistakes, and some “oh crap!” realizations – but I think I’ve figured out something pretty big. Your success doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s success.I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a huge upsurge in viral pins telling you “I made SIX TRILLION dollars last month on my FIRST launch EVER.” Or the blog posts that tell you, “Like me, you can start a successful business in less than five days and support your entire family with your newfound income!” And if that is true – that’s AWESOME. Wow. Congrats! But, I’m going to go on out a limb here and say… that’s not normal. That shouldn’t be your expectation and the standard to which you measure success.
But, I mean, I totally was. I was like, well clearly I done-messed-up because I don’t have a quadrillion-million dollars in the bank and my list didn’t increase by a kajillion percent last month. But through some talks and introspection I started to realize that my success didn’t look like that. In fact, my success was going to look completely different – it would be something that I developed on my own and not be influenced by anything that someone told me I “had to do.” And I want the same for you. So this isn’t an article saying “the four steps YOU MUST TAKE NOW to figure out your own success.” This is an article saying, here’s what I’ve been thinking about – it might be helpful to you, too.
WHAT DOES 'SUCCESS' MEAN TO YOU?
Let’s start here. Two months ago if you had asked me this I would’ve said, “launching a course and making $50,000,” Because that was the popular idea. That’s what people were talking about. So I made that my goal and set out to be the Next Big Thing. But something happened throughout the development of that goal. I realized a lot of things about my business and myself. For starters, I learned that the goal was completely unrealistic. I also realized that my audience and the people I enjoy talking to and creating solutions for don’t have any extra $500 lying around and I would not ask them to empty their savings. I also realized I feel my most successful or my most happy when I am interacting with people directly. This put me in a bit of a headspin, honestly. I had spent so much time preparing for what was going to be “THE MOST EPIC LAUNCH” and suddenly I didn’t want to send out pitch emails non stop, I didn’t want to make my very loyal audience feel sold too, I didn’t want to become this really intense sales person.
Now, you might disagree. I get that. Yes – we run businesses, we must make money, and we must pay bills. I agree a thousand percent. But, for me, success suddenly meant doing that in a way that felt more authentic, more personal, and more catered to my overall business goals. So, I moved forward with my launch – but made a solid plan to give away so much free content and let sales happen organically. I lowered the price, offered payment plans, and included more personalized elements. I also made a vow to myself to never rush into selling anything big again, without considering it from every angle and making sure it fit my overall vision for my business.
I realized throughout this process what success actually meant to me. It meant, yes, being able to pay bills, but it also meant making real connections, supporting my audience, and growing organically. It meant that I could feel at peace with my growth and myself and never feel like I am turning into some sort of overt sales-person with dollar signs in my eyes. That’s not true to who I am. (Trust me, I worked in actual sales for a while – and the only reason I was good at it was because I was SO honest with people – against my manager’s wishes - that they felt a connection with me and became my exclusive long-term customers. How did I forget this when I started my own business?)
So here’s my question for you: what does success REALLY mean to you? Right now – does it just mean quitting your full time job? Paying off your student loans? Okay. That’s practical. That requires making x amount a month right? Plan for that. Now, envision yourself at your pinnacle of success. Analyze what you feel like. Do you feel fulfilled, happy, generous, and approachable? Then, at all costs, maintain those feelings throughout the process.
WHAT ARE DEAL BREAKERS FOR YOU?
With this newfound clarity, I found myself seeing other people trying to hustle and make it, and noticed things that work for them but would never work for me. I consider them “deal breakers” and I try very hard to avoid doing them. I’m not saying to pass judgment on another person and their methods, I’m just saying to analyze and determine if it’s something you feel comfortable doing or offering.
For example, pulling an all nighter is a deal breaker for me. I won’t do it. Granted, if you follow me on Twitter, you know sometimes I can’t sleep and will work on stuff late – but generally, if I can’t sleep I just read Harry Potter until my brain turns off. What are some places you won’t budge on? Maybe it’s missing family time, or working Sunday mornings, or taking time away from a daily yoga routine. Whatever it is, make a vow to yourself to stay strong and not start to change your overall approach to life to gain someone else’s version of success.
I can be a very “black and white” person with my own personal feelings toward things. So if I tell myself “I will not do XYZ” then that’s it. It’s fact, it’s out in the universe, and I follow it. Almost like an affirmation, I write it down and view it often. I won’t feel salesy. I won’t write rude emails or ever use a condescending tone. I won’t assume anyone owes me anything. I won’t waste people’s time. I won’t blow up people’s inboxes. I won’t put my personal projects before client work. Period.
Now, I hear your thoughts – “BUT, so-and-so sends out like a hundred launch emails and they make so many dollars.” RIGHT. They do. And if that works for you, fits your vision of success, and isn’t a deal breaker, then GO for it.
I’m just asking that you consider yourself and your business and your own personal feelings before just doing what everyone says “you have to do.”
HOW DO YOU WANT TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL?
Here’s one that really helped make my vision of success a lot clearer. I spent a lot of time, in my head, and then with pen and paper, writing down exactly what I wanted people to feel. This is something I do and recommend with any client-branding project. I ask clients what they want customers or audience to feel. But I took a moment and re-approached the thought for myself.
I obviously think branding is SUPER important. When I think of branding I approach it as an experience someone has with you and your business. Not to be totally cheesy, but remember that Maya Angelou quote that everyone likes? It says “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So I know, super corny to insert a big quote, but it’s also SO relevant to branding. When you think about your business as a whole you should be thinking about what people feel after they experience you.
This is something I know and practice all the time, but somehow it seemed like when I was thinking of this particular launch, I forgot this idea. It slipped my mind. I got caught up in making money, being an overnight success, and being a “top dog” that I forgot that it really, really mattered to me how I made people feel. I want my audience to feel good. I want them to feel empowered, strong, capable, and welcome. I want to give them the skills and knowledge to showcase themselves and their businesses in the best way possible. I don’t want anyone that interacts with my business to ever feel scammed, used, as just a dollar sign, or a quota.
So, I ask you – what do you want to make people feel? Now write that down. Remember it. Have that be a on the checklist before you put out any content, any service, or any product. Ask yourself: “Does this work towards making my audience feel xyz?”
WHAT WILL MAKE YOU PROUD?
This is the capstone for me – I want to be able to look back at my success in years to come and know that I stayed true to myself and my vision throughout the process. I never want to feel regret towards something I said, did, offered, emailed, etc. I’ve built my business so far on the idea of being honest, authentic, approachable, and helpful. These are things I want to maintain throughout any endeavor or twist and turn of my business.
I’m not saying sending out pitch emails or asking for the sale is a bad thing. Not at all. I just want to make the point to you that it needs to feel right for you. If it feels unnatural to be sending a certain email or pitching a particular way, then don’t do it. If following someone else’s route to success makes you feel bad in anyway, or like you are talking to your audience wrong, then don’t do it.
Find a way that success feels good for you and will make you proud at the end of the day.
I’m curious if any of you ever get caught up in the desire to have someone else’s success? I feel like the comparison trap, or an “I’ll do all their methods” trap is an easy thing to fall into. I don’t think everyone has a bad method, or a wrong method, either – I just don’t feel like it should be so “one size fits all” with online businesses. Call me optimistic, but I really do believe there is enough space for us all to be our versions of successful.