What does success mean?
For some, it means creating an app that finally works or funding their dream project. For others, it could be getting their work-life balance right or giving back to their community.
For such a simple question, there are an endless number of answers.
We’re incredibly privileged to have TNW Answers, a platform where we can interview and give a platform to leaders and disruptors from across the science and tech industries. This year, we’ve had 30 TNW Answers sessions on our platforms, hosted by leaders and disruptors from fields including cryptocurrency, environmental science, beauty tech, cannabis, space exploration, new media art, and much much more.
We’ve parsed through 2018’s TNW Answers sessions to find the themes that unify them all. For this article, we’re looking at how entrepreneurs define success, and the similarities and differences between them.
Awards don’t matter — success is about moving forward and inspiring others
Amidst the launch of beautystack, a beauty booking platform that empowers independent professionals and artists to start their own business, Sharmadean Reid joined us to answer questions on her successful businesses, giving back to her community, and why beauty tech just sucks.
When asked how she felt after being awarded an MBE for services to Beauty, she replied: “Not really fussed. I mean it’s great and all but you still gotta do the work!”
Instead, Reid defined what she finds more important:
“Success to me is progress. As long as we as a team are not in the same place that we were yesterday, I’m happy. As long as it didn’t require anyone to suffer for the success, then i’m happy. I’m a perpetual starter of projects so it was a really maturity and challenge to learn to focus. Now I’m focused on this.”
When asked what her greatest achievement is as an entrepreneur to date, she replied “Inspiring other women to start businesses. Simple.”
The #1 thing all successful startups share
When asked what unifying trait all successful startups share, Adeo Ressi, the CEO of The Founder Institute, a startup launch program that operates in nearly 200 cities worldwide, said self-belief is key:
“Today, all great companies are based on belief. Belief is the new currency of success in entrepreneurship. Start by believing in yourself and your vision. When the team, investors and users also believe, you have achieved success.”
Professional success and personal success are linked
For one of our favorite Answers sessions to date, Arlan Hamilton, the CEO and Founder of Backstage Capital, joined us to answer questions on funding, her experience as the subject of the StartUp podcast, and why diversity makes financial sense.
When asked what her biggest professional success was to date, she replied:
“I think reaching 100 companies invested in is my biggest professional success to date. I set out to do this in 2015, by 2020. I was very serious but no one really took me seriously. less than 3 years later, the company I formed reached this milestone, and I was and am very proud of that because I know the nearly impossible odds I was up against.”
While this milestone was her biggest, she also said she’s not done yet: “I feel that when we reached 100 companies invested in, that was definitely a success on something I’d worked really hard to achieve. But personally, I do not feel like I am successful. I have more dreams to accomplish.”
Success often lies in owning your failures
During our panel on Women Disrupting Tech in Europe, we had six accomplished hosts who were each involved in a different area of technology, including social platforms, investment accelerators, engineering, and blockchain, and from a different country.
One of our hosts, Suki Fuller, an analytical storyteller and the co-founder & CEO of Salaam Ventures, founder of strategic and competitive intelligence company Miribure, and the Head of International Strategic Projects for DC Analytics, spoke a bit about how she has trouble recognizing her own accomplishments:
“My biggest issue is not owning the success. I’m always being pushed by others and while I give advice to my mentees about this issue, I am not drinking my own Kool Aid, I truly slack in this regard.”
“Best tip, be you. Own your failures. Celebrate your success. Be humble and have a great network to help you maintain and support you. Don’t forget to ask for help. ASK FOR HELP.”
There will always be hurdles
No matter what their background or industry, every host shared the same thing in common — they failed and they kept going.
For more of we’ve learned from this year’s TNW Answers sessions this year, we also wrote about diversity and inclusive business practice, (link) and how our hosts deal with failure. (link) Have an idea for someone you’d love to host a session? Post in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.