I have clients that come to me that are driven to earn $10M+ with their startup that are struggling to even pay rent. And while I have faith in their ability to succeed (and in this case it is the quality of the product and their own grit and perseverance that convinces me), it begs the question: How do you define success for your business and yourself?
Personally, I believe that setting overly-ambitious goals early on leads can lead to burnout, though it can also lead you to raise money and make decisions that makes those revenues a possibility, if still somewhat out of reach.
But I am curious how other's see this in relationship to their own startups.
Some founders use startups to build an income for themselves, and in this case I'm curious how you transitioning from bootstrapping to earning a salary.
And how do you measure success outside of income, revenue and growth?
The answer depends on so many different factors, but I would first answer the following question, "Is this as a lifestyle business or a business to scale?"
If it is a lifestyle business, then the founders need to conclude what success means to them. If a business for scale, then everyone with a vested interest needs to provide input and define success factors.
Set realistic, achievable, time defined goals.
Unfortunately not enough people put the positive contribution to society as a qualifier.
I am not sure there is another metric besides revenue and growth (with the focus on revenue generation) that can be used to generalize success of any startup/company. That being said, individual founders can define their success based on their reason for starting the business. For example, some people start a business to address a need in a community, and might be satisfied with breaking even (cost covered). This might mean they have to work a second job, but they are satisfied. This in it's way is success. But in this era of competition, and creativity, to have a business that will have a chance of thriving long-term, ideal success will be generating enough money if not to expand, to solidify one's hold on the market.
In regards to overly-ambitious. I think it's a requirement for every new founder. But to improve the chance of success, there has to be a listening ear attached to that attitude. An ear to listen to customers, to listen to more seasoned CEO and founders that have been down that road. Only then can one reduce the possible negativity that comes with overly-ambitious.
Sometimes no one else sees what you see, that's why you are the founder of that business, and not someone else.