How to Know When You’ve Made It | Eye on Business


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Happy August!  It’s that point in the season when I ask where my “summer” went, how about you? I’m sitting here in the kitchen of my new (old) farmhouse, also home to the crew of Suzanne Mellott Photography, contemplating the success of my business.  And I’ve come to the realization that success can be wonderfully deceptive.  Ever have one of those deep moments?  If you haven’t, then you’ve not been doing this long enough.

So what does it mean to have a successful business?  It may seem like a simple question.  Or NOT.  Success is subjective.  One person’s success may be measured by the number of sessions on the books.  Another person may feel accomplished if they hit that target goal of $100K (or $1K) income in a year.  The next photographer may consider their business a success if they can simply stay afloat among a very saturated industry.  Too many of us believe that, “Once I {fill in the blank}, then I can relax and feel like I’ve made it.”  Is your measure of success the same as what it was when you started?  Probably not.

As I contemplate what my own ideas of success are in this season of my life, I will share with you what I’m pondering.  You can picture me in a peaceful, farmhouse kitchen, sipping coffee, and looking out into a field of swaying grass.  Yep.  Nice picture I painted, right?  Well, in reality, I have four young children interrupting my Socrates moment.  I’m downing my second (third?) caffeinated beverage, popping a few organic cheese puffs among unpacked boxes and dust bunnies.  Feel better now?  My job is done 😉

Follow me through the depths of my thoughts but don’t wander off because it’s Crazytown in here most days:

  • Does my idea of success match up with my 2013 business goals or does it contradict them?For instance, one of my 2013 business goals is to shoot at least 25 Class of 2014 seniors.  I have to keep my limits in mind because it will allow me to provide a great service while still adequately homeschooling, running around with a one-year-old, volunteering, and being a good wife.  Shooting 25 seniors is my magic number.  So why am I beating myself up when I had to turn away a few seniors to competitors this fall, even though I’ve already met my magic number?  Stop that, Suzanne.
  • Am I allowing someone else to define MY success for me?Oh this is a big one.  Too often, we allow our friends and family to chime in on what will make us successful.  While I’m not encouraging you to go ninja on your unsuspecting best friend or spouse, kindly listen and then go back to what YOUR idea of success looks like.  Remember, they really do think they’re helping 😉  Even so, do not let them veer you off-course.
  • Are you measuring someone else’s success against your own?You know you are, so stop avoiding eye contact with me.  This is the #1 enemy to every business owner.  Comparing your ups and downs to everyone else’s highlight reel shown on their websites, blogs, and fanpages is self-defeating.  We all KNOW that there is no such thing as an overnight success and it’s not all rainbows, butterflies, and gold reflectors.  Go back to your measure of success, again.

On a final note, one of my own measures of success is to make sure that while building my business, I don’t tear others down in the process.  Do I want to see everyone with a “nice” camera and a fanpage hanging their business sign?  Of course not.  But, it’s not my right to judge someone else’s beginning with my middle.  That’s a rookie, knee-jerk reaction.  I saw this quote today and it really resonated with me.  Blogging for Senior Style Guide is totally helping me to succeed in my own mind.

“Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you.”

Wil Rose

I would love to hear your definitions of success over on my FACEBOOK or WEBSITE!