Are you chasing after big dreams of success? Great, but have you considered if your definition of success actually supports you and your life? In today’s episode, I’m walking you through how to measure your success by first determining exactly what type of success you’re after!
The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot is straight.
Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!
Subscribe on Your Favorite Podcast Player
Connect with Sabrina
This episode is brought to you by my Sustainability Guide Freebie, where I’m walking you through 10 steps to a sustainable business. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, this guide will help you review the different facets of your business and clarify whether or not you’re set up for long-term sustainable success.
What Does Success Look Like?
When you decide to start a business, you no doubt had plans of finding success. As a business owner, this typically means making a nice, comfortable profit. Have you considered what else could be considered success?
The term success is all relative.
Everyone has different goals and even different definitions of what success actually looks like, especially as a business owner. While one business owner may find success in making a million dollars, another may find success in being able to afford an annual vacation. It could also be the difference between working 15 hours a week or someone who craves to have enough work to be working 40 hours a week in their business.
There is no wrong answer in what success is, because you get to write the rules for your own success.
Chasing Success that Doesn’t Matter to You
When I first started my photography business, I was trying to build a business based off of what everyone else was doing. From what they were shooting, to how they were marketing, to what they were charging—my business not only became mediocre, but I was miserable.
I hadn’t stopped to think about what mattered to me or my family. I hadn’t considered what type of success I was chasing. This meant the business I was building wasn’t for me.
Define Your Own Success
Now before you start chasing after someone else’s success, I want to walk you through an important exercise in defining your own success. So grab yourself a pen and paper and let’s get started.
Think about your future self—what does the you in five to ten years have? What has made her successful?
Now look at what this successful version of you means in practical terms. How many clients do you take on? How many hours are you working each week? This list should feel very lofty—not easily achievable.
Easy isn’t exciting, easiest boring.
Making Shifts Towards Your Success
Now that you’ve defined your success, consider what needs to change. Are you on track to your definition of success? Whether you need to cut your offerings, raise your rates, or fine tune your marketing plan, this is your wake up call.
Without a clear definition of success, you won’t ever really build a business that matters to you.
Review the Show Notes:
What Does Success Look Like? (:440
Chasing Success that Doesn’t Matter to You (1:42)
Define Your Own Success (3:58)
Making Shifts Towards Your Success (6:48)
Review the Transcript:
Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur. while balancing business, motherhood and life. myself along with my guests will get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff to to shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.
As Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning. When you decide to start a business, you no doubt had plans of business success. And that likely meant making a nice, comfortable profit. But what most creative entrepreneurs don’t stop and consider is, what else could mean success for them. Here’s the deal. The term success is all relative. Your definition and my definition are totally different. I might want to make a million dollars while you just want to pay for an annual vacation, I might want to work 15 hours a week. While you might be craving to go full time and work 40 hours, I might want to hire a full time assistant where you just want to fund your shopping addiction. There’s no right or wrong answer. The beauty of being in business for yourself is that you get to write the rules, you get to define success. Let me give you an example of why this exercise is so crucial. Back when I was first starting out as a photographer, I would literally stalk my competition, I was looking to others to see what success was supposed to look like. All I knew was that I loved to take photos. And I wanted to make money doing it.
I had nothing else in my mind. So I looked around to see what other photographers were doing. What did their website look like? What were they charging? What types of work were they creating? Where were they marketing themselves? What kinds of sessions did they offer? How full were their calendars? What were they sharing about on Facebook? What did they blog about? You get the picture. I was trying to model my business to look exactly like everyone else’s. And guess what, not only was my business doing super mediocre, I was miserable. I had literally created a monster. I was overworked, under qualified, underpaid, doing the kinds of work that I hated. And I was miserable. I hadn’t stopped to think about what mattered to me and my family before jumping into business. And because I had no measuring stick for success, I had ended up creating something that was completely wrong for me. The thing is, I was not doing anything different than other creatives. This was back before Instagram was a thing. Back when people lived off of blogging and Facebook back before influencers were huge. This was back when Etsy was just starting out. So business opportunities for creative entrepreneurs were just then starting to explode. No one knew what they were doing. Everyone wanted to jump in and profit on their favorite hobby or passion. Most never stopped to define what success was to them. Unfortunately, this is still super common practice, creatives often don’t stop and define success before they move forward. And like in my case, it leads to really unhappy entrepreneurs who are wondering why they even started a business in the first place.
This exercise is such an important piece of the puzzle that if you’ve never done this exercise, no matter how long you’ve been in business, I want you to plan to do this today. Let’s get your definition of success defined clear as day. All right, so how do you actually do this exercise? Well grab a pen and paper and let’s get to work. First, I want you to think about your future self. What does successful you two years or five years from now feel like? What does she have? What does she do every day? Where does she vacation? Who does she work with? What kinds of clients does she have? What kind of competence does she carry? How much money is she making? You get the picture? I want you to think about all the details. This is where your unique customization comes into play. Consider what is successful to you, not to me, not to your competitor on Instagram, not to the industry. Queen has been at this gig a lot longer than you have. Just think about what you want. What would be successful for your family, your daily life, your health. After you’ve spent some time walking through this exercise, look at what that successful version of yourself means, in practical terms. How many clients do you take on per week? Or month? How many hours per week? Are you working? What are your rates? What are you doing? What are you not doing? This list should be eye opening. It should feel like a stretch, it should feel really lofty. And here’s the side note. If this list feels easy, like something you can reach with just a few tweaks in your business, then I’m going to challenge you a bit. You aren’t thinking big enough. Even if you’re happy keeping your business as a small side hustle, you should still have some big and lofty dreams, double your income goal, cut your client work in half, fund a two month sabbatical, write a book, whatever it is your dream vision of success shouldn’t be easy. Easy isn’t exciting, easiest boring.
And I doubt you signed up for entrepreneurship to lead a boring life. I know dreaming big can feel scary. But trust me here, let yourself do it. Let yourself have those lofty visions of success. Once you put them out into the universe, see what happens. I can promise you that doors will start opening. Okay, so back to the original discussion about defining what success looks like to you. Go back to the lofty list of things that define your version of success. Now, I want you to look through it with a lens of what needs to change. Are you on track to your definition of success? I imagine you are in some areas, but need to make changes and others. Let this be your wake up call to really hone in on what matters to you. And what doesn’t let this be your wake up call to cut your offerings, raise your rates and fine tune your marketing plan. Of course, we’ll talk about all those things and so much more in future episodes. But the point for today’s chat is this. Without a clear definition of success for you and your business. You cannot create accurate goals.
You cannot develop offerings that makes sense. You cannot track your business growth. And you cannot celebrate wins that matter. Without a clear definition of success. You won’t ever really build a business that matters to you. You signed up to be a creative entrepreneur because you found a passion that can make you money. Why not also let it lead to your dream life. It’s time to go beyond just bringing in some extra cash and really hone in on what your dream life looks like to you and how to get there. So that’s it for today, my friend. I hope you’re leaving this episode inspired and encouraged to do this exercise. And if you want to take it a step further, you can totally make a vision board and or put your dreams into a spreadsheet. Both of these are great additional exercises that can really get you fired up to make some intentional changes in your business
and your life. Happy dreaming my friends. See you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at Sabrinagebhardt.com/podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gebhardt photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review. Until next time, my friends shoot it straight.