Everybody Craves Success — But What Does It Look Like?

We owe it to former professional Brazilian footballer, Pelé, to define success in clear, understandable, and true words. 

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

The 81-year-old is still regarded as one of the most successful and popular sports figures of the past century, winning 3 FIFA World Cups between 1958 and 1970 while maintaining his status as a fair, charismatic and influential player. Pelé’s success story is a lesson that can inspire not only footballers but also entrepreneurs. Despite growing in poverty in São Paulo, Pelé built a professional career for himself through his dedication, work, and ethic, painting his own image of success along the process. Yet what success means to each of us varies greatly. 

Money as a symbol of success

As an entrepreneur, it makes sense to use capital as a metric to measure success. Yet, there is more than one way to showcase your business’s success. 

Indeed, for solo entrepreneurs or individuals who wish to grow their personal brand rather than a business brand, monetary success is typically a matter of how much wealth they have accumulated. It’s not uncommon to look up to famous figures for inspiration, such as Barack Obama’s net worth, which is estimated to be $70 million and combines his salaries as a politician, but also his books, speaking fees, and further acquired assets. As an entrepreneur, you may not aspire to make your wealth through politics. However, Obama showed unique abilities in diversifying his income streams by applying his expertise through different channels. Positioning your brand through books, speaking events, and further event participation can help broaden your audience reach and develop additional sources of income. As an entrepreneur, you can also consider selling your business for profit. 

Entrepreneurs who seek to build a long-lasting brand prefer to focus on how much money the business can make rather than their individual net worths. While one does not exclude the other, the goal for dedicated company founders is to build a financially stable business that will outlive them. They concentrate on increasing the business revenue through proven methods, including attracting more customers, encouraging customers to buy more, encouraging more frequent purchases, and finally increasing prices. Typically, the strategy relies on effective marketing and sales campaigns to identify and capture quality customers. For example, a restaurant will apply these unique revenue increase strategies as such:

  • Managing restaurant visibility and awareness in the high street and on social media to drive more footfall
  • Upselling items on the menu such as appetizers, desserts, or drinks to increase the average bill amount
  • Creating loyalty programs and building customer relationships to build more revenue through returning customers
  • Increasing the menu prices 

A positive cash flow in business can also become an element of success. Indeed, a positive cash flow shows the liquid assets are increasing, which enables the company to make investments, settle bills, and save for future financial projects. Cash flow is not the same thing as revenue, as it focuses on the amount of cash directly available at a given point. To maintain long-term and healthy growth, positive cash flow is a no-brainer. It is worth noting that a company can record growth even with a negative cash flow. However, this can happen when businesses expand too quickly and can’t manage cash in- and outflow, making it impossible to weather challenges. 

Relationship and network as proof of success

Effective networking skills can help professionals access new opportunities. For entrepreneurs, there can be no business success without positive, healthy, and meaningful relationships. But interactions can take many shapes and drive success in a variety of ways. 

Clever networking can be a fantastic tool to get your business name on every mouth. If success is being known in the right circle, networking becomes a game of numbers, the number of contacts more precisely. Smart entrepreneurs use networking as an introductory approach to establish their business profile. Essentially, success is measured by how many people remember your brand name for companies reaching out to new markets. With this strategy, networking maximizes exposure through innovative ideas, market understanding, and the ability to build connections rapidly. 

The peace-making entrepreneur values community integrity over contact quantity. Rather than using emotional intelligence as a networking tool, the peace maker uses it as an everyday work tool to create a conflict-free business culture. Identifying and defusing conflicts in a work environment is an essential skill to establish your leadership as an entrepreneur and promote a positive culture as a business. There is no denying that benefits may appear only at an internal level. However, entrepreneurs with a high EQ can become a brand’s best promotional asset in the long term. Indeed, happy employees who feel safe and valued are more likely to promote and defend the brand online. They are also quick to apply the positive attitude and approach they’ve learned from the business owner, improving customer service, partnerships, and overall market position. 

Finally, success can also be the recognition for your expertise. For instance, entrepreneurs with a strong personality and knowledge often position themselves as experts in their field, such as Henry Ford, who revolutionized car manufacturing, and Thomas Edison, who is responsible for creating most of the electrical power infrastructure in the United States. The entrepreneur, along with the business, can become known as the go-to experts. The strategy to establish your expertise requires a mixture of networking with industry sectors and professionals who need your skills and reaching out to a bigger audience through knowledge sharing, public speeches, and the creation of entertaining story-telling narratives. It’s the case for Tesla and SpaceX, whose market positions are mainly secured thanks to Elon Musk’s reputation as an expert generalist

Success means helping others

Nowadays, customers and employees expect businesses to give back to the community, the planet, and those who need help. An altruistic company is a symbol of success. Yet, being able to support others is no easy task. 

Perhaps, we need to turn to the K-pop band BTS to understand the importance of mutual support within a community. With almost 10 years as a band, the 7 singers and dancers know better than nobody the unique power of their audience, Army. BTS have been very vocal about the support Army, their fan base, delivers worldwide throughout their journey as artists. But they have also demonstrated countless times that the support is reciprocal, not hesitating to call out those who mock or abuse their fan base on international TV or create a safe mental health and sexual identity inclusion place for Army. As a business, nobody better than BTS has been able to build a self-supporting community that keeps on growing and creating positive outputs. 

Sustainability and ethical production operations are priorities in the modern business world. Companies that go above and beyond to reduce their environmental footprint and support their working communities reach broader audience groups. Cross-generational customers highly value green and kind objectives. People are willing to pay more if they know a business can guarantee their products and services are supporting the greater good. Customers and employees alike seek responsible businesses that can support the planet and developing communities. 

“Brands that deliver on pursuit of purpose, that drive a culture of sustainable innovation, are the front runners in consumers’ eyes – and they are watching.” according to WWF International. 

Success is malleable and can fit any objective and aspiration you, as an entrepreneur, might have. Whether you define success in terms of financial, cultural, social, or environmental impact is up to you. But it goes without saying that the landscape success paints for business is constantly evolving. As Pelé says, hard work is at the heart of it.

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