Ramit Sethi real talk on success

Real Talk on Success: What I Really Think About Making It in Business

The Money Bragging Trend: More Harm Than Good?

Bootstrapped entrepreneurs: There’s a recent trend sweeping the entrepreneur community that will be very tough on your mental health: entrepreneurs bragging about how much money they make.

Like this:

  • “I made $1.7 million last year”
  • “My business made $2.3 million and I only work 20 hrs/week”
  • “Just add this one tweak and you’ll triple revenues. I did it last year and now my biz makes $4 million”
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Table of Contents

Success Is Not Just About Revenue

I’ve been running my business for 20 years, and I can tell you a few things about longevity:

  • The industry’s definition of success changes like birds in the wind: A few years ago, it was # of employees. Then it was having a $25,000 mastermind. Then number of newsletter subscribers. Currently, it’s top-line revenue. Ignore those. Truly successful entrepreneurs craft their own definition of success.
  • If you find yourself down and even envious of other business owners, unfollow them, focus on your own business (perhaps with the help of a single coach you trust), and remember one thing: Live to fight another day. With time and luck, you’ll be back.

Impact, Profit, Lifestyle: The Real Success Trio

Personally, I consider IMPACT + PROFIT + LIFESTYLE key signs of success for IWT and for me personally. You decide for yourself. Challenge yourself: What does the money get you? It can’t just be more money. What’s the purpose? In my case, it’s convenience, amazing travel, and the ability to work with people I like and respect. 

Your business will have highs and lows. My business has grown a lot. It’s also dropped by 50% in a single year. If you tie yourself to an external definition of success, you will be in for some very, very tough years.


Why Obsessing Over Your Customers is Your Secret Weapon

How come nobody talks about falling in love with your customers? If you do, you become passionate — even obsessed — with how to help them. The revenue and profit growth is a byproduct of that. This is why I still read every comment and email that comes my way, TWENTY YEARS into my business.

Don’t be fooled by one-off metrics. It’s relatively easy to make $1mm in a year. To do it for 2 years is impressive. To steadily grow is incredibly impressive.


Spotting the Fakes & Keeping it Real

Many people are lying. I personally know of SEVERAL entrepreneurs who are point-blank lying about their revenues, but there are other ways to shade the truth: I can make $50mm but spend $70mm to get there. I can use a $225,000 launch month to claim I have a “2.7mm run rate.” Some personalities with 2+ million followers have low engagement. Or, like some people who lack ethics, you could rip off Ramit Sethi’s copywriting and then close your business and start playing guitar for a living. Most of these people are doomed — and it’s because of their poor ethics.

Some entrepreneurs are genuinely crushing it. I love seeing it. Check out 

Be extremely selective in who you follow. And think broadly: There are entrepreneurs who make $$$$ but I have zero admiration for them because of their political beliefs (e.g., hateful comments on immigrants). A successful person is more than the money in their account. The older I get, the more I surround myself with people who are  generous, considerate, and honest.


Write Your Own Success Story

Even for the people you admire, don’t copy them or their model. Get inspired from their businesses and then craft your own vision for yourself.

Do these things and you have a good chance at a long-lasting business.

Hit me up on my X account with any questions. This year, I’ll be talking more about how to build a 20-year business.


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