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Redefining success: Why money might not matter

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Many of us slave away in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. But should conventional measures of success be defining your business?

Man on hammock using computer

On where he went wrong

“I never really, formally came up with a definition [of success] and I internalised society’s blanket definition of success being money, fame, power. That’s what I’d been told, and that’s what I thought. It never really occurred to me that there could be more, or I could do something crazy like quit that and hang out drinking tea all day with people, writing books, and this could be my life.”

The small business mindset

“I think a lot of people, especially businesses, see success as constant growth, especially in the money category, it's seen as successful. But with a lot of businesses I’ve worked with, that’s not necessarily true. In fact, growing too quickly can often lead to a business’ destruction. So to a lot of businesses downfall, they want to grow quickly because they feel this pressure that [more money] means that they’re successful, but as long as they’re meeting the metrics they see as successful, it’s actually fine.

“A lot of times, building up really slowly is actually more effective in the long run because you build your foundation, you really feel rooted in it, you have a handle on things before it grows too quickly.”

What success should look like

“If you need to take a job as a waitress or waiter, to be able to work on your start up from the side, why is that seen as less than successful? You’re still doing what you want, you’re still living your dream. I think that’s where a lot of [small businesses] falter – is that they think it needs to be all in or nothing, and if you’re passionate and you want to do something with your life, you can do it. No one is going to stop you, you might not be able to do it all-in right away, but you can do it.

“[Success] may not necessarily be a fancy house, it may look more like going out for nice dinners, or it may look like getting a massage once in a while. So you need to get clarity on what that even looks like in the first place.”

Mike Iamele’s five steps to success

  1. Get clarity. “I think a lot of people think they know what they want, but that’s not necessarily true. You’ll self-sabotage all along the way if you don’t actually want what you think you want.”
  2. Use your fear. “Use your fears as a compass. Our fears are things we think we can’t do, but every time we do things we build a little confidence and a little courage.”
  3. Know your strengths (and weaknesses). “By the old definition of success, we all work nine to five and it’s all about the money. But with a new definition, we can … own [our] strengths and weaknesses and create a context that’s going to allow you to empower those.”
  4. Let passion guide you. “[Starting a business is] really tough, and people often don’t know which way to go. There are a lot of opportunities when you start your own business, and it’s tough to know which way to go. But let passion lead.”
  5. Savour the moment. “It’s just recognising when you’ve reached success. Saying, ‘Today I sold a product and that’s awesome, and I’m going to celebrate it because I’m successful.’ Maybe it’s not sustainable yet, but it is successful now.”
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