New entrepreneurs obviously expect some degree of success or they wouldn’t have started businesses. The business community generally views a successful firm as one that generates significant revenue, leads its market in some way, and is profitable. But not all entrepreneurs aim for wealth and pre-eminence. Success has to be relative to some set of goals, and different business people have different goals and priorities.
Goals are essential to defining your success, and frankly, goals can’t be vague. They need to be measurable in some terms — numbers associated with volume of sales, profit margins, market share and so on — and accomplished within a given timeframe. If breaking even after taking a modest salary is what you want, that’s OK. Just have a goal for when you’re going to accomplish that.
To some people the goal can be as simple as a happier lifestyle — perhaps working in a field that is truly rewarding or working close to home to enable spending more time with family. OK, how do you measure that? I measure my own success in part by eliminating 15 hours/week of commute time by starting a business that operates out of my home instead of a long stressful daily commute to an employer. For you it could be lowering your blood pressure by 20 points.
The important thing is being clear on your goals and, in fact, ranking your goals according to your own priorities. Then find some way you will be able to measure your success against these goals and identify a date when you can reasonably achieve them. You won’t be successful, by anyone’s definition, over night. But if you check your progress against your goals regularly and keep moving in the right direction, you most probably will achieve success in your own terms. Whose terms matter more than yours?!