She sat across from me at her mahogany conference table, silhouetted by a stunning view of the city skyline. "I want to be successful," she said. I glanced around, noticing her Coach purse, the Gucci sunglasses nearby. I knew that she'd exceeded her first and second quarter revenue goals by an astonishing 22 percent.
All of these riches and my client didn't feel successful. Why? Because she had not yet found the true meaning behind what she does.
A well-prepared entrepreneur runs his or her businesses with financial targets in place, but these targets cannot be the only measurement of success. A well-balanced plan includes milestones involving the company's purpose and vision. Why do you do what you do? What is the passion that drives you really all about? I call it "the vision beyond the vision."
So what is your definition of success?
I ask every new client to define success. Over 12 years of feedback and not a single person has said, "money". Nearly everyone says that freedom and making a difference in the world are their key indicators of success. So why is it that so many business owners get caught up in the idea of money first and their vision beyond the vision last?
1. Flip it.
Having come from an impoverished background, the above-mentioned client feels a strong emotional connection to underprivileged teens who have not been exposed to opportunities for growth. With this very strong value in place, she could not feel successful until her company was creating an impact for these kids. She also believed that she couldn't take a single step toward her vision beyond the vision until she had a lot of money set aside for it. This belief kept her from realizing her purpose and happiness.
Are you stuck in the belief that you can't move toward your true purpose until you have the money to do so? Let's flip that belief! Redefine your success by the difference you can make, rather than the money you make, and the money is sure to follow.
2. Don't wait, make your move now.
You may have a business plan, but do you have a plan to bring your vision beyond the vision to life? If not, find the resources to get you on the playing field. For instance, if you wish to use a portion of your profits to support anti-poverty efforts in developing countries, you don't have to set up your own 501c. Join forces with a nonprofit like Kiva where as little as $25 will make a huge difference.
To satisfy her need to help underprivileged kids, my client got the support of a few clients to put on a daylong fun and learning fair for teens. She also enlisted leaders in the community to take a teen under their wing for a day. Within three months of our conversation, she landed a sponsor who is paying for several kids to attend a series of events arranged by my client and her supporters. To date it's taken zero dollars from her budget to achieve something that's significantly impacted a number of lives. As a bonus, her clients have become vocal cheerleaders for her cause, and her product.
3. Tell everyone.
People like to do business with people and companies that care. Cause compels consumers to act. In fact, 91 percent of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.
PR is your best friend now. If you are passionate about your cause, and you should be, become a spokesperson for it. It's not difficult to land interviews in local press or prominent blogs when you incorporate a meaningful cause into your marketing. Bring your message into social media and everything you do.
"I could have done this long ago," my client recently told me. "I could have felt successful long before the money came."