Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Basics

What is success and what does it look like?

Defining what success actually looks like

Some people do not think enough about what ‘success’ is when starting their own business. They often interpret ‘success’ as their products and services selling well and think of themselves running their own profitable business, making lots of money by having happy customers. Some might even think that success is about their business or brand to be famous and for it to become a household name. Others might think success is defined by having a jet-set lifestyle and mingling with celebrities.

But all the above are superficial layers of success and this is a ‘thinking trap’ many people fall into when they decide to start their own business.

If you define success as simply becoming rich, you will see people with multiple six figure incomes who can afford luxury holidays and new cars. But you also see that some of them are not necessarily leading happy lives and having to sacrifice important elements of their life in exchange for what ‘success’ looks like to them. For example, we see people who are rich and successful but never have enough time to spend with their loved ones because they are working 70-80 hours a week and exhausted.

This is one of the reasons, the phrase ‘rich and successful’ has a cynical tone in most people’s mind. We say things like, ‘money does not buy happiness’. Because while we celebrate people’s successes and achievements, we also see some lives being ruined by deteriorated health and/or unfulfillment as a result.

But this doesn’t mean that the path you will be taking will have to end up there. While some are rich and unhappy, there are others who are leading a lifestyle of success, freedom and fulfilment that most of us want.  I am sure you agree that ultimately, we all want happiness and fulfilment as a result. Usually, people who are successful and happy are the ones who have managed to create both money and time for things and people that are important to them.

Story of Sarah and Jane

If you have been thinking that someone’s annual income determines the level of success, and that simply that higher the income, more successful that person is and that you have a income target you want to reach before you can call yourself ‘successful’, let me tell you a story.

Think of two people, Sarah and Jane, who are both earning 80,000 Dollars or Pounds per year through their business. Sarah works 60 hours per week, and Jane works 25 hours per week. Sarah spends long hours each day working sometimes works at the weekend, too. Sarah is usually stressed and tired from working.  Jane on the other hand earns the same income, but has more time to do other things as she works less hours each week. Jane has plenty of energy and spends her non working hours, socialising, enjoying hobbies, other creative pursuits and spending time with her family. Who do you consider to be more successful?

From this example, Jane has more time and freedom and therefore could be perceived to be more successful (and possibly more fulfilled) than Sarah even though their annual income is exactly the same. This is because we need to think in relative income rather than annual income.

Relative Income vs Absolute Income

Thinking in relative income is probably one of the most important points that you should get your head around.

In our society, we always state people’s income as ‘per annum’ we do not always consider how many hours we work to earn that. If you want to make sure you do not end up as an overworked and unhappy business owner, shift your definition of success from absolute income to relative income. As you can see from the above example, success is not always about how much you earn per year, it is more to do with how much free time you create through building your business. 

It is important to consider this before you start building your business if you want to ensure that you build a business that incorporates the lifestyle and freedom you desire.  

To get started on planning your journey to business success, you first need to set your vision on what success looks like for you.


Remove the superficial layers of what most people think of what success means. Answer each question by writing down on a note book.

1) Write your own definition of ultimate success and exactly what it looks like for you. Do not include any material items you think you need. Simply writing down ‘being rich’ is not what you are here for. Ask yourself questions like ‘What does my ideal working week look like?’ Be as specific as you can. 

2) Calculate the income in relative value which you will consider as a success if it happens within the next twelve months. For example, if you could earn, your current ‘net’ income working 2/3 of your current working days through your business or if you could earn the same net income working for fours days rather than five days a week within the next 12 months, will you consider it a successful start up of your business? Write down the minimum net income you need to survive and the maximum hours you intend to work to earn it so that you can begin to think about creating a balanced work-life set up. Remember it is just for the next 12 months so that you can get started on your entrepreneur journey.


Note from Yumi


A lot of people make the mistake of thinking about running their business in the same way as having a job, working 9-5, 40 hours a week or more and end up owning a business with all the responsibilities but no freedom of time. It is then no different from having a job.

Take as much time as needed to drill down to discover the news ways of defining success. It may be different from what you have always believed.

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