We’ve got heroes all around us — people like DHH (founder of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp), Tim Ferris, Brennan Dunn, and Nathan Barry. For big WordPress shops, some of the heroes are 10up, Web Dev Studios, Human Made or Crowd Favorite.

They are the stories of wild success out of seemingly nowhere (though most of them toiled in obscurity for a long time).

They are the ones we look up to as we build our businesses. When we launch new products or services we see the numbers they achieved and then evaluate our sales in light of their success.

But rarely do we really hear what happens inside business. The whopping success stories are glorified, the failures are dissected or shunned. The rest is silence. Our demand for hero and goats obscures the truth. – Growing a Business

In the middle

Despite what some of the readers here may think, I’m firmly in the middle. I’m looking for my next project. Have a number of estimates out but nothing firm.

Money is much lower than I want it to be. I’ve got some fear of failure going on.

I’m not wildly successful. My last product launch flopped (as in zero sales). The previous product I launched was okay and still makes a sale or two a month, but the grand total income for it is around $3000.

And yet I have a business that’s been running for 6 years. I’m making more than I ever have. I’m excited about where things are headed.

Nothing wrong with the middle

Most businesses are sitting in the middle area. They turn a profit and supply income for the owner and possibly a few employees and this is a perfectly acceptable place to sit.

To be successful we don’t have to be a hero to millions. We don’t have to have people from our industry as a whole looking up to us.

Success is something we should be defining for ourselves. Even as I said I want to be a 1 million dollar company would I really be ‘less successful’ if I turned into a $300K company or a $200K company?

Would my children be ashamed of the work I do?

I think we know that the answer to that question is a resounding no. The amount of money we make has no direct correlation to our actual worth or our success as business people.

At least it shouldn’t have that effect.

Don’t stop striving

Now just because we recognize that we shouldn’t be hanging our worth and success on a dollar figure or head count, that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to hit that higher goal.

I won’t be disappointed to be a $300K company, or really to stick in the $120-$150K range where I sit now. I’ll still strive to kick my business up to where it consistently turns $1M a year, though.

As I strive for that bigger goal, I’ll continue to make my smaller business run better. I’ll be able to spend less time working to generate the same income.

I’ll be able to spend more time with my kids and in my community.

So don’t hang your hat on a number. Don’t gauge your success against mine. Figure out what success means for you. Figure out why you work and make your success hinge on achieving your WHY.

All income that goes beyond covering your basics needs and some wants is just ‘more money’ and shouldn’t have an effect on how fulfilled you are.

photo credit: oblongpictures cc

2 responses to “Sitting in the middle is nothing to be ashamed of”

  1. Mario Peshev Avatar

    Kudos for sharing your situation with the world Curtis, especially after the numerous public announcements for the $1M business.

    And as Bo Jackson once said: “Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.”.

    I have occasional chats and calls with other business owners in the WordPress world and often things are not as bright as we see in social media or at conferences. But that’s fine, since nobody is perfect and there are tons of day-to-day issues while growing a business, and we just need to move forward regardless.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Yeah we totally compare our day to day with the highlight reels of other people. I love that quote one I always remember is from Meet the Robinson’s

      “Keep moving forward”