Shay is a product stylist who created styled stock photography and flatlays for creative business owners.

Per usual, I’m late to the game but when I saw the topic of yesterdays @risingtidesociety #TheRechargeChallenge it was a topic I’m SO STINKIN’ PASSIONATE about that I had to jump in! Better late than never!  This might seem like an odd picture to choose to represent what success looks like to me as a commercial photographer and styled stock photography shop owner. I almost chose a joy-filled picture of my family because that does, in a way, capture what success looks like for me but this picture captures what is happening beneath the surface that allows for the happy family photo.

For our family that is finding a way to make a business flourish and thrive within hard boundaries.

Wind me up and let me loose and I will attempt to take over the world. haha I LOVE owning a business, I love what I do, I love teaching others, I love working hard and seeing results BUT all of that, when not given hard boundaries, will wreck havoc on the elements of my life that are actually of much more valuable to me in the long run; A joy-filled home. A love & friendship filled marriage. Deep community and friendships. Radical generosity. Intentionality and connection with my children…So about 5 years ago when I was in the throws of trying to get a grasp of what being a business-owning mom of two would look like I sat down and defined what success was going to look like for me.  The idea being that no matter how much money the business was bringing in, it was ONLY a success – a win – worth still doing – if ALL of the following things were true. So here it is – My business is a success if:

  1. It is a financial blessing to my family and not a financial burden.  This means that it operates debt free and brings in additional income that our family can enjoy/give/save/spend.
  2. It is an emotional and physical blessing to our family and not an emotional or physical burden. The goal is that both me and the family thrive and that the business is not a constant drain on me emotionally, physically, creatively, and mentally.  If it is, then something needs to change.
  3. It is fun!  Not all the time, and not every day because nothing good comes without hard work and sometimes hard work is HARD but overall, the business needs to be fun and life-giving for me and if it isn’t than something needs to change.
  4. The business exists to serve our lives and not the other way around – we do not build our lives in such a way that everything serves the business (our schedule, availability, mental space etc). I run a big business in two days a week from 9-5 and with rare exceptions, neither Graham nor I pick up work or even open work e-mail on off days, nights, weekends or vacations.
  5. It is not only self-serving but others-serving. To me this means that it provides an avenue for generosity – not only financially but also with teaching, encouragement and truth.
  6. It can be shut down if needed.  This might sound like a silly measure of success in business but it is one that keeps my heart in the right place.  Success is when this work does not define me.  It is not my identity. I would not be crushed or fall apart if one day the whole thing ceased to exist.  I work as hard as I can to be excellent at it but all the while I hold it with an open hand knowing that it does not define me and I can let it go if I felt God asking me to.

So there you have it!  This is my definition of success as a business owner. I hope that it has been encouraging and helpful and, if nothing else, I hope that it has inspired you to define what success looks like for you!

I would love to hear some of your measures of success below!  What resonates with you? What are your deal breakers as a business owner?