The dangers of success by numbers

A couple years ago when a friend posted his year-end review, someone else basically belittled him and told him that he could be doing so much better. This bothered me then and it still bothers me to this day.

There has been a lot of discussion about some specific year-end reviews and the idea of sharing revenue numbers in general. While many of the people who share these numbers and the way they achieved them do so with fairly altruistic intentions, some suggested they might be “encouraging envy” or “promoting ego.”

The truth is that these articles are extremely helpful to those running similar business so I applaud anyone willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of how they got where they are. It’s challenging, encouraging, and yes, maybe even scary.

The problem with all of these reviews is not the numbers. It’s what we infer from them.

Numbers alone do not define success and who are we to decide when someone has or hasn’t reached it? We haven’t “arrived” when we break 6 or 7 digits in revenue. It can’t always be claimed by doubling or tripling last years sales. How many page views and Twitter followers has little to do with it.

At least for me, success is more defined by the lifestyle it affords me. Financial independence, opportunity for generosity, and flexibility of schedule are my goals and everything else is simply a bonus. For you it may be something completely different but this one things remain true; only you can define success for you and your business.

We all want our businesses to grow, but don’t chase the numbers at the expense of the things that really matter. Otherwise you may find yourself with huge numbers but zero success.