Success versus Significance
Hi, my name is Shannon Rosenberg and I am a small business owner on the West Rand of Johannesburg. I want to briefly share on my title above, yeah that one: success versus significance. I started a small business exactly one year ago and my reason for doing so is because of a personal conviction.
If you’re not wondering about my title, then you should. Success versus significance. What’s the difference, and is there a difference?
Being successful is a great personal reward that comes after hard work and an enormous investment of one’s time for a defined goal. Significance on the other hand, is the sense of fulfilment one feels after having helped someone else become successful through an investment of your own time and or money.
I had many opportunities to venture into business before I took the plunge. I always anticipated at one point in my life, that I would, it just always seemed unreachable and too much of a sacrifice especially as a young man. By the way, I’m still young, don’t know why I said that. But apart from all of that, where would I get the capital to start? How much capital would I need? Did I even need capital? Did I have the right qualification to start? Should I perhaps have gone to university? All these questions are not only overwhelming but very dangerous too, as it has the potential to derail you and your purpose.
I eventually did start my business and with very little, in fact with nothing but wisdom and bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is a start-up: an internet-based business or other business type with minimal to no financial resources, or help from investors. My entrepreneurship journey started when I was 8. I sold sweets, ice lollies, we called it ‘chupas’ back in the day and frozen yoghurt, or ‘mayo’ from our home. My dad was my investor for this entrepreneurship venture and this was, I believe, my start in business. Hey, we all have to start somewhere and we all start small and I was taught to never despise small or humble beginnings. My reason for selling sweet treats at the time, was not because I wanted to make money, but because we had only one other tuck-shop in the area and they controlled the market. And we know that if we only have one player in the market, they then have the whole pie to enjoy. Suffice to say, my little tuckshop venture ended, arose again some years later and ended a final time because my desire to play outside in my neighbourhood was greater than my desire to be in business as an 8, 10 and 12-year-old. I’m sure you can appreciate that.
Being in business with the purpose of being successful is great! I will be the first to advocate that for anyone. But being in business to be successful for yourself only is where this article starts tilting. The world today is filled with so called ‘self-made’ men and women, self-made millionaires, heck even billionaires. And we are still not any closer to alleviating poverty or social ills. So how is it that we can have so many people who are successful and we still experience societal issues? Well, here’s my take, when starting out your business, you experience many challenges and these challenges not only challenge you, but the viability of your idea or business. So, you start understanding, that your road to success is not going to be easy, but you buckle down nonetheless and you get ready for the ‘hustle’. 9-5 turns into 7-7 for some, weekends become weekdays, and evenings become late afternoons. Sheesh, sleep becomes a luxury to some, not that that’s a bad thing, “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands, then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit and scarcity will attack you like an armed robber” Proverbs 6:10-11. And on this journey for success, it’s ok to start developing a sense of this is mine as I am the only one experiencing what it takes to make this happen. You’re actually not the only person experiencing it. You see, there are many entrepreneurs on the same road seeking out success. Many have come from difficult backgrounds and some just have amazing ideas and concepts, but the common factor here is, they all strive for one goal called success. A few challenges later, some hurdles on the way and a coupla hoops of fire to jump through and there it is: ‘I’ve made it!’ ‘I am now successful!’ ‘This is my time to shine!’
Great! But now what? Does it become about the fancy cars and untouchable swag? This is where you meet the fork in the road and it too challenges you. Might seem not, but it does, and if you haven’t yet got there, rest assured… you will! You see, this road challenges your foundation. Are you going to make a difference in the world with your recent found success, your hard-earned success, let’s not forget that you have worked for this right? Or are you going to change your endeavour for success and use it to propel others into successful futures as well? Will your business be the voice in the room with all the suits and shiny shoes to address societal issues by coming up with solutions? Or will you just button up your expensive suit and join in the conversation of who signed the biggest contract this year?
Significance is sometimes the road less travelled by many, but it sure is the most scenic! The opportunity to use your success for the benefit of others is possibly one of the greatest journeys you’ll ever embark on. Our beloved ex-president, Nelson Mandela said it best “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Deciding to start a business because you recognise a need in society or in your community is already a good start. A business based on satisfying the needs of others and helping the community is sure to prosper. However, your journey to success also comes with its own challenges, sometimes even more, but rest assured that this road has no fork in it as you are already on the road to significance.
Shannon Rosenberg, founder and director of Eighty6 Marketing (Pty) Ltd. A business that is determined to help other small businesses grow.