I read somewhere that the number one predictor of profitability was actually having profits as a goal. That seems obvious, yet many small businesses aren’t that specific about what success is and hence, the goals they set often go unachieved.

Successful marketing is much the same way. Many of our marketing goals are set without really understanding what “success” looks like or feels like. While you think you might be clear about that — don’t be so sure.

A Step-By-Step Recipe for Defining Success

Actually seeing, smelling and feeling specifically what success is for you will take some time. Don’t just stop after the first iteration. Keep going. I’m going to give you a process for getting clear about what success is for you so that you can set goals around that.

Defining Success

In the Wallace Wattles book, “The Science of Getting Rich,” he writes that when you are having a party and you send an invitation to your guests, you don’t send them the alphabet. You include the date, the time, the occasion, dress code and the location and directions. Success is much the same way, you can’t have it if you don’t know what it looks like and feels like to you.

What is success? I’m going to start with a broad definition and work my way down to more and more specific definitions.

  • Joy, freedom, inspiration, balance
    • What does “joy” look like? When my clients achieve a goal, that brings me joy. When my clients say “Thank you for helping me, I couldn’t have done it without your help” That makes me feel useful and that I was a part of something big.
    • What does “freedom” look like? I can control what I do with my day and my time. I do only the activities I love to do. I spend time with people who inspire me and bring me joy”. I can go where I want to go, buy what I want to buy, support and give gifts to the people and organizations I choose to support. I will know I’m free when I can decide to go to the Atlantis Resort with my family and make the reservation within the week.

Notice how I keep digging and digging deeper getting to a statement that actually looks like something. Your vision of success has to be as recognizable to you as when you see the Eiffel Tower you think of Paris. You have to know what it looks like specifically enough so that you can actually recognize the signs that will get you there.

In my example, my digging uncovered that one aspect of success for me would be to have enough freedom that my son can say “Let’s go to Atlantis” and my entire family would have the freedom to decide that we wanted to do that and put the plan in action within the week. Without asking too many questions like “Can we afford it?” or “Do we have the vacation days?”

What are some other things that must happen for me to feel that I’m being successful? I’m going to list some examples of things that might be on your list:

  • $100,000 in cash at any time
  • Paying for college educations in cash
  • Flying to Paris for dinner
  • Having 6 Forune 100 CEOs as clients
  • Guaranteeing my clients at least a 20 to 1 return on their investment

These lists can go on and on forever, but they will NOT happen if you don’t write them down.

What’s on your list — and remember to make it as concrete, specific and visual so that you can start getting excited about what’s on there. If your mind is currently chattering about how impossible these things are — just tell it to quiet down for a while.