How do you define success? That is a question I have asked at the conclusion of more interviews than I want to think about. For some reason it stops most interviewees in their tracks. I have become accustomed to patiently waiting on a response. It frequently comes in bullet points, almost never a fast, focused answer.
With the business climate being what it is, it seems like a good idea to visit the topic. So to take a look at the issue, let us just restrict the question to, “How do you define success in your business?” And while this is about your business, setting goals such as this is also very personal. What may be success in my terms might not mean a thing to you.
To me, business success has always been a moving target. Take on a new project or a new position and run it to the peak. I define business success one project or one group of projects at a time, together with a set of goals based on the calendar. Sometimes finding a new project or position is a sign of success. Then make up a new goal to define where it may be taken.
In today’s climate, I believe setting goals (a good way to “define success”) is more important than ever - not only for the sustainability of your enterprise, but for your own psyche. In fact, maintaining a sustainable enterprise might be the pinnacle of success in 2009 for many in the construction industry!
Many firms in our industry make a practice of setting goals every year by way of an annual budget. It’s a tried and true exercise and it’s necessary to measure the vital dimension of cash - without which there is no enterprise. Following the example of the annual budget, try writing down some non-monetary (but important) goals for yourself and your business. As you make your routine review of your numbers next year, take a little extra time to see how you are doing against your plan to succeed on all the other things in life and business that really matter to you.
The most memorable of all responses to the “success” question came in a 2002 interview of Habitat for Humanity co-founder Millard Fuller. He responded without hesitation, “God does not call you to succeed, He calls you to faithfulness.” Fuller went on to explain that he felt not successful, but that he had “answered the call” to work on the problem of substandard housing in the world. Whether you are a believer or not, you have to embrace the simple truth that doing the work to which you were called (also defined as “what you are good at”), and doing it well, is always going to be a good definition of success.
Following so many years of growth, some of us really need to consider how we define success. It is not necessarily more business. It is not necessarily a bigger paycheck. We must remember that success truly is what we define it to be and nothing more, but it is important to define it.
So, how do you define success?
P.S. - As we enter the holiday season I want to take this time to offer a most sincere thank you to everyone in the roofing industry for giving me the opportunity to earn a living for another year. Peace and blessings for the holidays and for the coming year and, as always, thank you for reading Roofing Contractor.