What IS Success?

I just got back from Denver. I was speaking at a conference that I was invited to. On the plane ride back, I started thinking, “Okay, now, was this a successful trip?” Then I really started thinking. “But how do you measure success?” Success is an ever-changing thing. It’s an ebb and flow. I mean, some people see success as, “I’ve reached the mark of I’ve made a six-figure business, a seven-figure business, an eight-figure business. This is my success mark.” One of my success marks is I want to give speeches at the best golf clubs all over the world and have my golf paid for. How do I get to that point? That’s an endgame.

When I started really thinking about how to measure success, I started thinking about two different things. First, there’s tangible success, things that you can measure, hold in your hand, do things. And then there’s intangible success, things that you can’t hold, that you necessarily can kind of measure, but it’s not really super simple to do. Let me start off by explaining what I’m talking about.

Tangible Success

The first thing I want to talk about is tangible success.


The first tangible thing is financial success. It’s very straightforward. If you get to a specific goal, like the six-figure, hundred-thousand dollar mark, which is where most people are trying to get to as far as making income or running a business or doing something like that. You can easily measure that. You can do it in spreadsheets. You can do it in QuickBooks. That’s not necessarily the end-all-be-all, right?

I always tell people that when you run a business, no matter what your gross income is, especially as solo entrepreneurs, that about 50% of that is going to be expense. That means if you make it to the hundred thousand dollar mark, then you’re probably going to bring home about $50,000, which is a pretty decent income. My kids make $50,000 working at their jobs. Now, take out taxes, take out expenses and stuff like that, and it dwindles down to the 30s and 20s, okay? When you’re running a business, you have all kinds of expenses and things that you have to pay for. If you make a hundred thousand, your chances are you’re bringing home 50. It’s a good number, right? But what if you made 200. Then you’d bring home a hundred thousand dollars, and that would be even better, right? The goal is to say, “Okay, if I can make it at $200,000 I’m really there.” That’s the financial measurement.


The other thing that you can measure is results. Those results come in the form of whatever it is that you do measure: efficiency, analytics. In my world, it’s all about traffic-to-websites. How many hits are getting to the websites? What pages are being seen? I can measure those results using Google Analytics. That’s a very tangible thing that I can set up, measure, and say, “This month I did better. Last month I did worse. Why did that happen? What can I do to affect that?” The same thing i true with my podcast. My podcast has grown. This week was Episode 262. Do you think Episode 1 through 10 got 3,000 visits each? No, they didn’t. Are the episodes now getting 3,000 visits each? No, but that’s a goal. That’s a place where I want to get to. I’d like to get 3,000 to 5,000 downloads of this podcast, because it provides great information and people want to pay attention to it.

Social Proof

Another tangible thing that you can get is social proof. Social proof comes in the form of testimonials and referrals. That means when you do a great job over and above customer service, the people are willing to tell that story, so you can share it with your audience. Also, if they really love what you do, and I always ask for this, the simplest way to get referrals is ask people. If you know somebody who can utilize what we’ve just gone through, please let them know or let me know and I will contact them. I just finished up my first run of my Bacon System for LinkedIn this week. I asked at the end, “What did you guys think?” The feedback was exceptional. I asked them, I said, “Look, if you know somebody that can benefit from this the way that you benefited from it, then please tell them or let me know and I will contact them.” Getting social proof from the work that you have done is a very tangible thing that you can relate, measure, and utilize.

Intangible Success

Now, let’s look at the intangible things. Okay? When I was out speaking in Denver, I could measure the financial side of things, the results, the social proof. Did I get more traffic to my website, my blog, my podcast? Did I get some testimonials? Yes, I did. I got some great testimonials. But more importantly, did I increase my sphere of influence?


Was I able to convince enough people that I know what I’m talking about? I understand my subject, and they’re willing to be advocates for what I do. Will they share what I share whether it’s my blog posts, my podcasts, my quote of the day, or my caption contest? It doesn’t matter. Are they convinced that I am somebody that they should follow and somebody that they should share with their friends? Creating influence is something that’s a little bit more intangible and harder to measure.


The next thing as you go through all of this stuff is, are you increasing your knowledge? Every time I teach, I learn twice. That’s a quote that I love. Every time I stand up on stage, I learn something. When I’m teaching, when I’m speaking, when I’m at a college teaching classes, I’m always learning. Are you taking that intangible resource and folding it into what you know so that you can continue to grow further? Are you making the most of those opportunities? When I got done teaching my first Bacon System class, I learned a lot about what people needed and what they didn’t. Then I modified it for the second class. I’ve gone through the sixth one recently. I’m actually in the middle of it right now. In the six times I’ve taught this class, I’ve constantly refined and increased my knowledge on how to better prepare the people that are taking this class to benefit from it.


The final piece of this is new opportunities. You never know when something that you’re doing today can create new opportunities in the future. A perfect example of this is I gave a speech to a local Chamber of Commerce Women in Business group, probably three years ago. Last year I got a call from somebody who said, “Hey, I saw you speak at such and such event, and you really moved me. I got your book, and I read it. And I’m ready to take action.” You never know when you’re going to reach the right person at the right time to get them to consider using you in the future. Is what you’re doing creating new opportunities?

Final Thoughts

That’s the difference between the tangible and intangible. Tangible is measurable… and intangible is intrinsic. Do you only focus on the financial outcomes, or do you look and the various other benefits of getting out and connecting with new people?

I would love to hear your stories, thoughts, and comments on this subject. Comment below and share ways that you have created and leveraged networking or events in your business!