Thinking: Recipe for success (2017 Edition)

Recently a friend asked me if I consider myself successful. Immediately, I answered: “Of course I’m successful.” I then deflated my ego and thought about it for a bit, and wondered, is my measurement of success the same as my friend’s? When my friend asked me whether I’m successful, what metric do I base the answer to that question on?

Being successful is a bit like cooking your favourite Thai Red Chicken Curry. Yum, I love Thai Red Chicken Curry. But without the right ingredients, it just won’t taste right. Right now I’m cooking a recipe of my own success.

People have different success in following a recipe. You can give the same recipe to 5 people and end up with 5 different tasty dishes. That’s because it’s not all in the recipe, most of it is in the cooking. Just like your goals, recipes can be adapted, changed or modified to fit your mood. If we say that ‘cooking’ is the transformation of a recipe to the perfect dish then we may compare the building of a business and its recipe for success as a game of trial and error.

Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post puts it perfectly. She wrote:

“We need a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

When I first started Equals Creative, my aim was to transform what worked for me as a web design freelancer into a fully fledged digital marketing agency. That transition between freelancing and a branded company was no easy ride. As a freelancer I worked without a network, seeking projects myself and relying on my own initiative, drive and skills as an individual to gain work. I didn’t have a recipe. I’d compare building a company to throwing random ingredients into a pan over and over again until eventually you serve something that actually tastes all right!

Sure, its not the only option, there are hundreds of Michelin star businesses and entrepreneurs out there who can help you get a head start in what works and what doesn’t.

In the case of Equals Creative, it has only been in the last 18 months that we’ve really fine tuned our recipe. In that time, we deliver a better product, we’ve learned how to communicate as experts in our field and we’ve built a strong reputation.

When clients start to seek us out as people they want to work with, it feels really great.

But that trust, expertise and reputation, hasn’t just been built by me. I have a fantastic team and they are the ones who are really delivering the results. I like to think I hold it all together pretty well, but it’s been tough finding the right people, people who believe in your dream, are on board with your ideas and have the same drive and enthusiasm as you do for it.

I’ve learnt that communicating your dream effectively is key!

Being clear and concise is important. It’s crucial to have it clear in your head where the business is going and what you want to achieve. If you have several half baked ideas in your mind, how are you going to effectively communicate them?

Never shy away from the passion you have for what you do.

Passion, is contagious (with the right people). If you have passion and belief in the company’s ambition yourself, then people will simultaneously become absorbed in the idea of being a part of something destined to do well.

Attitude first, skills second.

The right people will find their own enthusiasm in your company, bringing new ideas to the table from a different perspective. If they have the right attitude, drive and passion for the job, they can learn what they need to know. You can teach skills, you can’t teach character.

Keep your team happy!

Once you’ve hired the right people, re-evaluate what you’ve promised, be transparent about how your dream is going, give them the feedback they need to help you make your dish even tastier.

You’ve perfected your culinary skills, so what next?

My recipe is now my foundation, but just like I mentioned earlier, it’s time to adapt, add, remove and change ingredients. Be open to changing, going away from what you know works and trying something new. You never know what new dish you might produce.

I’ve learnt I’m not a bad cook really but I’ll always get better with practice and that I’m good with recipe analogies!