Running a race would be pointless without a finish line, wouldn’t it? Rather than an exhilarating win you have trained and worked so hard for, you would just be running, directionless, exerting so much effort with no clear endpoint. Plus…you would look rather silly.

The same is true for running a business. Entrepreneurs as a species tend to be go-getters. They are people with an idea who want to run out and just DO. The problem is that many end up in a race without a finish line. They go and go and go, running after each new goal. Many read books, taking ideas from the greats and running with them, even when these ideas may not be a great fit. All this effort, chasing every project that comes to mind, leads them in 7 different directions at once, and can wind up being debilitating. For all their fervor, they seem to burn out before they really get any traction. The problem? They didn’t wait to define one clear finish line before taking off in the race. Sounds like common sense, right? But it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

How do you determine what your finish line is?

We have talked before on this blog about how to set and achieve goals by working backward to set milestones. In this case, I am not talking about goals per se, but rather the always elusive concept of “success”. How do you know when you are successful in your business? Because let me tell you, there is no magic writing on the wall that tells you when you have “made it”.

If you are setting goals, each with milestones leading to those goals, you are on the right track. But take a moment to assess those goals. Are they all pointing in the same direction? Are there any that don’t seem to align with the rest? Just as milestones point to goals, goals should point to your ultimate vision for your business. This hierarchy is what keeps a business organized, and on track. With a disorganized, directionless leader at the helm, you can bet it won’t go far. It is better to do a few, laser-focused things well than do a wide variety of things mediocre.

So how do you achieve success?

It starts with a self-assessment. What is your vision for your business? How will you know when you are aligned with that vision? Make a bullet list of tangible things you can achieve to let yourself know when you are on the right track. What are your current projects? What are your current goals? Are any of these things outside the scope of what needs to be done to hit some of those tangibles you laid out? If so, consider scrapping them and moving in another direction. Don’t concern yourself too much with what other entrepreneurs do. You are unique, and your business is unique. Therefore, habits of other self-starters may not work for you. And that’s ok. Just figure out what does, and scrap what doesn’t.  Just don’t wait for someone else to define your finish line.

By Emily Dominguez