Ten definitions of entrepreneurial success

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Crowne-Bars © by Mark Herpel (2008)

What does true entrepreneurial success look like? Is it by number of books sold, number of columns secured, number of press hits, number of blog subscribers, or revenue?

I asked ten rock star entrepreneurs: How have you defined your success as an entrepreneur so far? And what is your advice to others for defining their own success as an entrepreneur? Here’s what they shared with me.

“In our business, success is defined by action and innovation. We are a talent agency, so a lot of our success is contingent upon the success of the artists we represent. We try to not think about that and think more about how we can add value and forge artists’ careers forward. We have worked with everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to emerging talent. Some months, our success is based on the number of shows we serviced that month. Other months, it may be based on signing new acts we are excited about. Another month, month, success might be seeing a project we have been working on for a long time come to fruition or a big brand account. Advice to others: Be flexible. You may have to change directions to be successful, but don’t ever give up!”
– Alex KirshbaumPresident of NUE Agency, a talent agency focused on concerts, tours and endorsement deals globally with an emphasis on Tech and the “NUE” music business

“No matter how much money you make or how many things you have or if your business is worth millions or trillions — if you wake up in the morning and are happy with the person you are, if you believe you’re well-rounded by doing well (and your doing well by doing social good), then that defines success as an entrepreneur. The money will come. I will never let a number define who I am as an entrepreneur. Believing that success is based on a monetary figure is a small way of describing a big picture. Do well while doing good, and you can change the world while being a great entrepreneur. Don’t let some stat or ego-play dictate what you believe an entrepreneur is or is not.”
– Scott Gerberserial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist, TV host, founder of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), active angel investor and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job

“I wouldn’t say that I’m a successful entrepreneur at this point. I have an entrepreneurial mindset and a passion for entrepreneurship and have started companies, though I didn’t start Path (a simple way to share life privately with close family and friends).  Books, columns and press hits are not the answer. Entrepreneurs build and start things, and how many times you can do that in your life is what defines success as an entrepreneur. One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is to fail and fail often, but learn quickly and move on.”
– Matt Van HornVice President of Business for Path

“I try not to define my success based on the amount I earn or anything like that. The coolness factor of the work I do matters a whole lot more. Entrepreneurs work longer and harder than anyone else, so you absolutely have to think what you’re doing every day is cool. Otherwise, what are you doing it for?”
– Ryan Paugh, Community Director and Chief of Staff for The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)

“Success can be determined by accomplishing milestones and goals for your business. What may seem to be the smallest of goals may be the largest accomplishment for an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur won’t be simply satisfied by accomplishing just one goal. They’re typically tempted to continue to raise the bar and reach new goals. Revenue milestones are obvious indicators of success, but also reach and visibility are just as important. My advice for others defining success as an entrepreneur is to set realistic goals, and don’t be concerned with how big or small they are. Just stay focused and love the journey.”
– Jordan Edelson, CEO of Appetizer Mobile LLC, a mobile development application platform and consulting company

“For me, defining my success has been about what I have been able to create out of nothing and how far I have come. Each year, I look back and assess what I have been able to accomplish in the previous year. I continually set goals for my business and celebrate each milestone as a sign of where the business is going. It’s tempting to just define success by the revenue you are bringing in, but I would advise entrepreneurs in the startup phase not to make that your only barometer for success. Of course, increasing revenue is a great sign of success, but also make sure to take pride in the fact that you are succeeding in doing something you love and that brings value to others.”
– Marni Galisonfounder and CEO of Sunday at Noon, a personalized matchmaking and event company in Manhattan, New York

“I won’t lie, revenue isn’t bad, but I could make money in a lot of different fields by working for other people. For me, it’s the freedom to make enough money for a good life and the freedom to make a schedule that lets me be a good mom!”
Bryce Gruberfounder of TheLuxurySpot.com, and principal at IntenCity Global

“Success means different things to different people. For some people, it’s about controlling their time. For others, it’s about money. For me, I know I am headed in the right direction when I get feedback from all over the world about what I’m doing for women. As time goes on, I am sure the definition of success will change for me. That’s just the life of an entrepreneur.”
– Amy PalmerEmmy-Nominated Entertainment Correspondent, Executive Producer, CEO & Founder of PowerwomenTV

“For me, success is defined by the ability to make a difference in the lives of others, and make a living. The exchange of value between my clients and myself helps us both, and that is how I define my success. My advice to other entrepreneurs for defining your success: if it keeps you up at night or wakes you up in a cold sweat, you’re on the right track.”
– Nick Nanton, Esq., Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, also known as The Celebrity Lawyer and Agent to top celebrity experts

“My definition of success is constantly changing and evolving. I care more about making meaning than making money, so that’s a huge benchmark. I’m really proud of building She Takes on the World to inspire entrepreneurial women worldwide, and I’m excited to be leading a council of the world’s most successful young women entrepreneurs as Co-Founder of YEC Women. Winning an Emmy Award has also been a huge highlight of my career so far too, and it’s proof that it doesn’t matter how young you are — the sky truly is the limit.”
– Natalie MacNeilEmmy Award-winning digital media entrepreneur and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of She Takes on the World, a leading blog for women in business

Kris Ruby is the President and Founder of Ruby Media Group LLC, founded with the goal of opening the vast potential of Social Media on the web to companies wishing to build relationships, grow and profit from Web 2.0.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.

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