Ten years after starting his company Intrinium, the business was making steady profits. I was able to repay the loan and was living comfortably. With a decent amount of discretionary income, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What should I do with my money?”
When I started Intrinsium and wondered what success would look like, I could only see material things: a million dollars in the bank, a big house on a hill, and a four-car garage full of Ferraris.
As I was able to buy some expensive things, I realized that owning things doesn’t always make you happy, and owning too many things can make you very unhappy. You own what you buy You, Not the other way around. This is not where your potential for real pleasure lies.
Starting and running a business is tough. Sometimes I feel like crying, “Why am I even upset?!” For a long time, I didn’t know the answer to that question, but I finally figured it out. Beyond the obvious rewards of success, there are far bigger rewards than you might imagine.
#1: Set Your Own Schedule
One thing that brings me success is a lifestyle that lets me set my own schedule. The number of hours I work is different from how much revenue the business makes.
Because my company is stable and I have good leadership from my executive and management teams, I can say, “I’m going to spend next week in the mountains doing what I want to do. After going out of town to make a few calls, I I’m not going to work.” I trust that when I get back to the office, I won’t go into chaos.
Taking the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than toiling continuously in your business, frees your mind to explore what else success can bring. It allows you to improve your quality of life in many ways, but only if you take the initiative to do so.
#2: Meet people who interest you
Being a successful business owner gives you access to people you would never have met in any other position. I can pick up the phone and call the mayor or CEO of one of the biggest consulting firms in the city and they pick up my phone. I can ask them for lunch and they accept.
When you run a company, people take notice. They see you differently. Sometimes they see you for the first time. These connections can present other opportunities, such as investing in other businesses and participating in charity events.
You also start seeing yourself differently. In turn, this empowers you as an employee to do more in the world than ever before.
“Don’t worry about being successful but work towards being important and success will come naturally.” – Oprah
#3: Help your community, your industry, the world
The credibility you enjoy as a successful business owner empowers you to effect positive change. You can leverage your success for the good of yourself, your family, your co-workers and employees, your customers, your vendors, your community, and the world.
Those who are successful have an obligation to show gratitude to the community and use their money for good. This includes helping your family and friends in need, raising struggling businesses, donating to social or political causes, and giving fair market wages and high-quality benefits to your employees.
Other than giving advice, I don’t do a lot of practical charitable work at this time. Someday I’ll find the right reason to dedicate some time, but for now, I’m happy to write a check to the causes I want to support.
Once you and I are committed to doing more, and you have freed up time, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities. Do what impresses you the most. This is one of the benefits of being a business owner.
#4: Raising Other Start-ups
At a certain point in your career, you have gained skills and valuable experience that you can pass on to others as you begin the journey. The credibility that has come with your success means they will listen to you.
I consider it my responsibility to help business incubators and people working on my own start-ups. Since I am earning enough in my business, I can give this assistance on free of cost basis.
In mastermind groups, I like to identify members who are in the early stages of their business. Maybe they have ten people and a million dollars in revenue, but the revenue isn’t consistent, and they’re not scaling.
I ask these young business leaders about their mission, vision and values. I also work with them on their long-term growth plan, always asking “What do you want to achieve from this business?” To train and support them, I give them my cell phone number and invite them to contact me with questions or just to bounce an idea off of me.
#5: Support Your Staff
You can use your experience and power to help your employees achieve their goals. Many employers have the idea that their staff members should work for them forever, and they take it personally when people move on. I don’t see things that way at all. When people leave your business and do amazing things, it further defines your own success.
A few years after I started Intrinsium, I hired a man who went from part-time computer programmer to chief security officer for one of the best-ranked health care systems in the country. That growth happened because in the eight years he worked with us, we taught him everything we knew about security, risk management and leadership.
A few years ago, I was offered $12.5 million for Intrinsium. I turned it down because I was sure the potential buyer planned to transfer the contracts to another firm and lay off my employees. I don’t feel like success. This is not a way to clamp down on the people who have worked so hard to get the business to this point.
When you achieve a level of consistent success, you will be faced with these kinds of ethical choices. What are you going to do when the time comes? Are you going to take care of the people who took care of you? Or are you just going to bite and run? A few things to think about.
find ways to give back
If you have decided to start and grow your business, you have set off on a worthwhile journey. Remember, though, once you reach your definition of success, you won’t get there on your own.
Your staff, your customers, your family and your community have contributed to where you are today. I hope you will consider it your moral responsibility to look for opportunities to show your gratitude.
I am not saying that you have to give away all your property. But take really good care of your life and the people of your community. This is the right thing to do.
When I started my business in 2007, I never thought that someday I would have the money and power to do what I can do now. You will never get as much pleasure from counting zeros on your bank statement as you would from helping people. It’s a wonderful feeling—and one of the biggest rewards of actually running a successful business.