There are any number of reasons a person decides to launch an entrepreneurial effort. For some the path to prosperity is not even a handsome salaried position but the freedom to punch one’s own clock and to lead one’s own board meeting. Some lose a career option or become disillusioned with the corporate dream. Others find themselves starting over and decide to follow their dreams the second time around instead of settling for a consistent payroll contribution, so, their businesses are a reflection of them. Some feel compelled to pursue a mission and their present employment inhibits that personal calling. The mission statement and the business plan, if well written, should state ostensibly what the proposed company is about.
Money – The Entrepreneur’s Business Tool or Crown Jewel?
Inarguably, every individual needs income as does each group of them, each family unit. And, of course, each organization needs income be it non-profit or for-profit in its declaration. The question begged, though, is whether the pursuit of money is the force behind all efforts, the raison d’être, or whether it is an instrument used to reach the objectives stated in the mission statement.
Is Wisdom Really More Valuable Than Silver or Gold?
One business owner, who had an idea as a college student, left school and pursued his idea with his wife once advised an aspiring entrepreneur to make sure that, ultimately, the business would run itself. The owner had never operated in the red. Revenues and net profits had grown annually for a long time. This business owner wanted plenty of court time and tee time so a hands-on business was contrary to his idea of success. Sadly, that business survives by a thread because the internet has essentially mitigated the need for the product and service that business offered. The business was a cash cow to the owner and not a passion of the owner.
Ironically, the owner admitted a problem with call-outs among the technicians, which resulted in losses to unhappy customers for date promises not kept. So, as much money as the man was making, he could have had a better financial statement had he successfully created a work environment in which his employees wanted to be. The business was as much a cash cow to them, so-to-speak, as to the owner. No passion for a mission. No self-investment.
A different business owner admitted in a conversation in the lobby of a public building one day that his business was bringing in a lot of money, but that he was not happy at all. The business phone rang non-stop daily from callers who had bought the service, but were unhappy with the product or unhappy with the delayed installation. The owner, as well as the employees he managed to keep coming to work, dreaded each day because of the onslaught of unpleasantness even though the owner had handsome revenues and was paying the employees well. This business owner had not been successful in his due diligence to make sure he was engaging in a product and service whose installation was uncomplicated and affordable to the business owner in man-hour costs, and one comfortably maintained.
A woman and her husband jointly thought making people feel well and look well would be lucrative, learned another aspect of what defines entrepreneurial success. They opened a nail spa in a decent location and had a continuous flow of business in the beginning. But there was division in the ranks. The cashier only wanted to process transactions and maybe answer the phone. She did not like being asked to clean a manicure table or foot table so the next customer could come in sooner. They relied heavily on pricey spa treatment options instead of simple, straight-forward foot and hand maintenance that made customers look and feel well and happy they were left with money in their pockets. The tensions among employees that resulted in inferior service quality eventually forced them to close. This couple was not successful in identifying something customers would want and be willing to pay for and they were not successful in creating a pleasant environment for employees or customers.
Two young men had a novel idea that might have worked if they had not priced themselves out of business. They developed a mobile vehicle detailing business. They had customers but the problem was they targeted the blue collar clients and priced themselves out of business because their expenses from the business frequently exceeded their revenues. So their lack of success was in not adequately researching the costs involved in a mobile service and pricing their service accordingly.
One man with HR experience invested in a job placement franchise for high dollar white collar professionals. The firm personnel would find jobs consistent with an applicant’s background and salary requirements, but they seemed to take little else into consideration. The firm falsely assumed the applicants would move somewhere they did not list as a choice if the price were right, or, assume poor schools were acceptable if the money were enough to permit them to enroll the children in private schools. The firm did place candidates and did earn some money, but they were not successful in getting referrals or repeat business because they made the candidates feel completely unregarded. At the time of the owner’s input, the perpetuation of the franchise was dubious.
So, Then, What Is Entrepreneurial Success?
The keys to entrepreneurial bliss vary according, first, to the type of business, and, second, to the mission statement and business plan. The heart and attitude of the business owner create the business culture. The passion of the owner for the mission statement, or the lack there of, will infect or affect the others involved.
Success wears many hats. In some businesses it means increased sales and revenues. Sometimes it means setting the right price for the service and market. In others it means increased net profits by streamlining processes, improving service standards, and reducing rework and waste. In others still it means creating a product or service employees respect and feel good about and creating a culture in which employees enjoy being involved.
No one promises starting and perpetuating a business is easy, yet the rewards are many and meaningful, as are the opportunities for personal development. Not just a sale, but a genuinely happy, appreciative, and satisfied customer is a feeling of accomplishment. If asked for an alternate descriptive term for success, yours truly would offer happiness. A successful business owner is one who sleeps at night without artificial aids and who wakes in the morning mentally and emotionally prepared to do it all again, only better.
How do you measure success as an entrepreneur? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.