Everyone wants to be successful, but not many people understand what success brings with it or what it means exactly. Where one person may see achievement, another may see overwhelm. Success may be the goal, but there are many roads to get there, and not everyone’s version of success is the same.

So, while typical entrepreneurial resources such as business books or self-development webinars might offer a textbook definition of success, there’s a lot they leave unsaid when it comes to the personal aspects of succeeding. Below, 11 experts from Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the things they were never told about success and how it would affect them once they reached it.

1. Success Isn’t the Finish Line

Success isn’t the “finish line” of a particular life race. Success is a continual work in progress. It takes a tremendous amount of work to get there and even more work to maintain and grow that success. Understanding and appreciating what helped you achieve success initially will create a foundation to support and sustain that success long term.

Josh Awad, Flywheel Commerce

2. Success Is a Paradox

The one thing no one told me about success is that it is a paradox. There is no such thing. If you’re the type of person that wants to succeed and has the drive to do it, then when you do, you will feel like you need to go further. I now know it is about the journey, not the destination.

Alastair Sanderson, LFA Machines DFW LLC

3. It’s About How Much Time You Spend

It took me a long time to realize that time is the only resource I’ll never be able to create more of. Far too many people are focused on “the hustle,” working around the clock, etc. Over the past few years, I’ve come to redefine success as how much time I’m able to spend doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy. I’ve restructured my calendar, business and priorities with this measure in mind.

Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker

4. Success Is About Peace of Mind

It’s peace of mind. For me, this is the best way to understand what success is really about. Want to expand your business? Why? Want to wake early, eat right and exercise every day? Ask yourself why. What you’re pursuing has to align with the things that make you unique or else you’ll lose your peace of mind. That’s where one gets lost in pleasure to cope with misery. 

Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

5. Success Is a Personal Thing

One thing nobody taught me about success is that it really is a personal thing. It’s an intrinsic thing. You can build a multimillion-dollar business and still be miserable. That, to me, is not success. Success isn’t a destination. It’s really a journey. You achieve one success and then you look for the next one because you want to continue to grow. That’s what a successful person is to me.

Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions

6. You Need to Define Success for Yourself

The ultimate goal in being successful starts with defining success for yourself. I am successful because I defined success as running a business while having a life complete with family, love and hobbies. By other people’s standards I did not succeed, as I could have traded in some family time for a bigger business. By my standards, I accomplished exactly what I set out to do and am successful.

Hajmil Carr, Trueline

7. Success Is Prevailing Over Your Fears

It’s about prevailing over my fears. I never thought about success in that way, but when I heard it, it made instant sense. Now that I am successful, I realized that a lot of that success came, in fact, from confronting and eventually overcoming my fears.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. Routine Is Key to Success

No one told me how important routine was to be successful and reach my goals. While it may seem like common sense to some, I had to find that out on my own when I started working toward becoming a registered nurse. It takes consistency and a lot of time to get where you want to be, but in the end, it’s well worth it.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. A Successful Business Is Self-Sustaining

A successful business is a self-sustaining one. Growing a business to the point where cash inflows and outflows are positively balanced from month to month is, in my view, a success story. Simply getting to the point where your books are balanced and you can keep a profit up means you’ll be able to raise capital more easily and will have more options for further scaling.

Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

10. You’ll Need Help Along the Way

When it came to success, no one told me how much I would have to rely on others to get where I need to be. I was always under the impression that I only needed to work hard by myself to achieve my goals, but this is far from true. You need to work with others to get the stepping stones you need to move to the next level of your journey, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek advice.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

11. To Understand Success, You Have to Fail

To truly understand success, you have to fail and understand why. Too many people focus on what they think they need to do to win and ignore the reasons why they failed prior. You learn so much more from your failures, but so many people take their failures personally and try to hide them, ignore them and move on in the hopeless pursuit of success. Know where you came from to know where you’re going.

Andy Karuza, LitPic

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.


  • Scott Gerber

    Founder and CEO

    Young Entrepreneur Council

    Scott Gerber is the founder of YEC, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. Learn more at yec.co.