When we think of success in business, one of the images that comes to mind is often one of a business man (or woman) wearing a suit, standing at the top of a high-rise building and looking out the window over the streets below, while being on the phone with some important and influential business partners.
We associate business with success in this way for a number of reasons.
Firstly, when we achieve success in business it often brings money and riches. Secondly, achieving success in business suggests a certain level of skill and ability and tends to yield a higher status and importance as a result. For all these reasons, business and success go hand in hand in our minds and for many, those are the specific heights that we are aiming for.
But is business success really what you want? How can you achieve success in business? And what might you unwittingly be doing wrong that could be sabotaging your own success?
In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what it means to have success in business; and what you should do to get there.
Be Careful What You Wish For
The first thing to remember is that you should be careful what you wish for. For many, the idea of success in business is a very romantic and idealistic one. It’s something we might spend a lot of time daydreaming about. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t always what you might expect. And it might not even really be your dreams that you’re having.
Let me explain.
Many of us associate success with business. We’ve already explained this.
We hold this association in mind because we have been trained to think this way. Over many years, we have seen images of successful people almost always wearing suits and wielding power. This is how success is depicted in the movies and in the books, in our society generally.
We think of the film “Limitless” or maybe “Wolf or Wall Street” (despite the fact that both these movies were really lessons against seeking too much power, too quickly). Maybe you want to make your parents proud? Maybe you plan to follow their footsteps and take over the business? Maybe you want respect and prestige?
The image of success that your grandma has is linked to business as well, after all! But this can then lead to your downfall. If it means that you have to chase after things that don’t really bring you joy and fulfillment. If it means that you become the head of a big delivery company, or of a corporate legal team. Maybe it means you become a procurement manager.
Whatever the case, you can end up taking a stuffy job and being a ‘suit’ without any personality and attempting to get rich that way. You’ll start at the bottom, put in the hard graft and the work and climb the corporate ladder. But is that really what you want? Not only are you now facing years possibly decades of working hard with very little to no reward, but you’re also going to be working toward something that may not be as gratifying as you expected.
Sure, the pay is good when you’re standing in that high-rise, but do you really want all that responsibility (which often come with many sleepless nights? And do you feel all that passionately about the product or service your company is providing? The price of success is often that you end up staying late so you basically never see your kids, that you have to deal with people shouting at you down the phone and that you are responsible for millions of dollars.
All of this so that people can get their boring parcel delivered on time. Or so that a dubious business you don’t even really support can avoid a lawsuit.
Is that really your image of ‘success’? And what do you spend the money on? Expensive clothes? A car? New house? Was it really all worth it? In many senses, this is not really success. And not only that, but if you take this route.
If you climb the corporate ladder, put in the work and do your time, then you actually won’t be as successful as you possibly could be. Think of any massively successful businessman. Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk.
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How many of them started a boring job and then ‘worked their way up’? No: they started passion projects. They looked for things that no one knew they needed yet. They innovated. Trailblazed. They came up with completely fresh and novel ideas. And because they did that, they were able to have breakthroughs that no one could have imagined: reach heights that were truly unprecedented.
The Ultimate Strategy to Achieve Success in Business
So, here’s the strategy to achieve success in business. First of all, learn to separate ‘income’ from ‘wealth’. You’ll see that the two absolutely do not go hand in hand. Secondly, learn to separate your prestige at work from your personal sense of pride and accomplishment. What do I mean with this? If you write a brilliant novel in your spare time and not one person reads it then that should still be just as rewarding. As easy as that.
So, I want you to take some time out. Try to find your passion and to follow that path. But you will have to do it on the side (at first). And view your day job as what it is: a necessary source of money you need. Over time, you can turn that passion into a way to make some extra cash. Then maybe you go part time. Then maybe you go full time. Then maybe you quit your day job (which will be the best feeling in the world).
Why Passion is Crucial for Success
When Elon Musk created SpaceX, he was not the massively well-known name that he is today. Musk was a relatively unknown name whose mission it was to encourage the private sector to venture into space. No small task. But you know what? Musk did it. And his explanation was that he aimed big. Many of us feel that we can’t reach our dreams and goals. But how many people are out there who became millionaires and billionaires even tho they don’t come from a background of wealth and companies?
We have been led to believe that aiming too high will end in disappointment, will make us look naive and foolish. But the reality is that aiming high is actually precisely what you need to do to achieve success in your business. Reach for the stars. Because when you aim high, you inspire others to do the same (I mean, would you tell your kids that they can never achieve certain success in life? Be the person they look up to). When you have something exciting to say and when you are clearly excited about it and your business yourself then people listen.
It’s so much more inspiring to hear someone tell you they want to go to space than it is to hear someone say they’re a hairdresser (though if that’s your passion, there’s nothing wrong with that!). If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you’re in the internet marketing industry. Let’s say you are for now. You might have a plan to launch a website, sell an ebook or ecourse, make some money. There are two ways you go about that.
One is the cynical way. The way where your heart isn’t in it. The way that you see time and time again. This approach involves looking for the hottest new ‘niche’ in the market. Whether or not that’s a niche you’re interested in doesn’t really matter to you. Then you buy some content, maybe hire someone to write some, maybe pump out a little yourself by just repeating what you already can find online.
Then, you fill that content with as much SEO as you possibly can. You do everything you can to monetize the site. You cover it in ads. You call it something like ‘The Best Weight Loss Site’. And you wait for the cash to roll in. But that will not work. Why? Because there’s no true passion. If you have a site about animal welfare and you hire the very best writer in the world to write for it.
If you tell him to write you the latest, most exciting, newest content then you still won’t do well. Why? Because they aren’t you. They can’t speak for you. They don’t know your point of view. And they probably don’t know the topic all that well either. So, they’ll do their research. Learn it rigorously and try to write something great. But it will be the safe option. Generic, boring content you can find everywhere. People will visit the site, they’ll notice and see that.
The site has no personality. No voice of its own. No ‘mission statement’ or purpose. There is no passion or love behind it and so no community grows behind it. The site dies. That’s why the thousands of low quality, half-hearted sites never make it big. Think of the sites that do make it.
Those are sites like MOZ blog, like Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Blog, like Pat Fynn’s Smart Passive Income. The Verge. The BBC. Forbes.
These are sites that are written by passionate experts. They are sites that have unique, engaging and brilliant content you can’t find anywhere else. And unique, brilliant points of view that are unique to the brand. They have high production values, slick design, and thriving YouTube channels.
Do you See the Difference?
Think about the sites that you enjoy reading on a daily basis. I bet they are either:
A) Large teams of enthusiastic professionals
B) Single, passionate individuals
None of them will be spam designed for quick money. None of them will be ‘overly SEOed’. You can’t create amazing quality content unless you are passionate about the topic. You have to love doing it. You need to put everything into it. You have to want to spend your free time writing articles, answering fan-mail and tweaking the logo. It mustn’t feel like a job. It mustn’t feel like work.
If there isn’t a topic for a website you feel that way about, then being an internet marketer isn’t for you. You need to find what you are passionate about. Your calling. That is how you become Elon Musk and not ‘tired, overworked, stressed Dad who works himself to an early grave’. Do you see the difference? You can’t fake it. You have to love it.
Presenting the Image
But I know what you’re thinking: it’s all good and well having the dream and the vision but you also need the skill and you need that business mentality and personality to achieve success. And I agree. If you’re going to lead, inspire and do investments then you do need to learn to present yourself and you do need to learn to be taken seriously. And this is a skill that will help you in every other aspect of your life too.
So how do you go about it?
The simple place to start is with the realization that you are a brand. Your name is your own personal brand and just like any business brand, it is your job to protect that brand in a professional manner. How important is it for a website to be correctly spelled, to have great design, to pay attention to even the smallest details?
It’s the same thing with you.
You need to present yourself in a way that leads to confidence and trust. You need to make sure that every interaction that other people have with you is a positive one. You need to present the face of a service that people can trust. You need to gain the confidence that you know what you’re talking about. You do this to begin with by conducting yourself in a professional manner.
That means that you put in effort and hard work into everything you do. Whether it’s that boring 9-5 that you’re just ticking over with, or whether it is a client who is very much ‘small time’ in your eyes. If you don’t give them 100% of your attention, if you rush things or if you make a silly mistake, then that is a black mark against you. If you say you are going to get a piece of work done by a certain deadline, then you make sure you do that.
You never know where amazing opportunities might come from. And you never know what one interaction might lead to. If you deal with someone in a poor manner, or you do a half job, then word might spread. If you do an excellent job, you just might get offered something. The same goes for any work that you put out with your name on it. Make sure it is outstanding quality and you stand 100% behind it.
Next, you need to make sure that your presentation is perfect. That means learning to communicate and to present yourself in a professional manner. I highly recommend getting classes to help you with public speaking and elocution. This will help you to get your point across in a way that other people understand. It will teach you to sell yourself, to thrive in interviews and to win clients.
Additionally, you have to think about the smallest details of your appearance. How are your nails? How is your hair? Do you have a nice suit? Are you in good physical shape? All of this has been shown in countless studies to make a difference. People want to bet on the winning horse and if you look like you can barely keep yourself together, then why would anyone believe that you’re going to be able to run a business?
Sell a product? Provide a great service? Again, tiny things make the difference here: things like your shoes, how polished they are, how the laces are tied. Be constantly improving yourself and investing in you in order to make a better impression. Meditate. Get enough sleep. Have enough vitamins and minerals. Be ready to take those opportunities when they come.
Keep Your Eyes Open For Opportunities
And learn to see opportunities where you don’t expect them. Because it won’t always be obvious. Think of Sylvester Stallone who wanted to become a famous actor. He was turned down from all the acting jobs, so he eventually got there by writing a fantastic script for a movie. That movie was Rocky and he would only sell the script if he got the leading role.
The rest is history.
Opportunities might present themselves to you that don’t seem directly related to your goal. But adapt, learn to see the alternate routes. Because success in any area can lead to success in another. It builds confidence, it gives you connections and resources. This is called ‘springboarding’, where you use one ‘win’ to launch you to the next.
If you turn down an opportunity because it doesn’t seem to exactly match your plan, then you can end up missing out on something that could have been huge. Always be looking for that next move. If you really want to achieve success in business you’ll massive game of chess. And once again, this is why you always need to put your best foot forward. Making the right impression and protecting the brand opens those opportunities.
Keep your goal in mind, keep winning and keep taking that next step. Don’t let yourself become comfortable. Put out quality products. Market them like a pro. If you do all this, then you never know where your drive and your effort might take you. THAT is how you achieve success in business.