(originally published January 8th, 2006)

I ran into a business networking associate at a store on Friday night. We had a short conversation, during which he made a statement along the lines of my not really being able to ever claim true success if I couldn’t define my marketplace.

Of course, I have defined my marketplace; it’s every and anybody who decides they want to partake of any of the events, services, or products I have, no matter which type they are. There’s this perception by many that one can never have true success unless they define their market quite specifically. I tend to disagree with that perception, for more reasons that one.

I fully understand one part of what they’re saying; it’s hard to market to everyone. Companies with large budgets can do it via TV or radio or magazines. But for smaller businesses, like mine, we can’t afford those types of venues. I also can’t afford to send letters or mailers or flyers to everyone; I have to be more specific in those ways.

However, I don’t agree with the part about exclusion. If I market only to businesses, what happens to the individuals who might want to take part? If I market only to individuals, what about companies? If I only market healthcare, what happens to diversity and leadership?

Finally, what gives anyone else the right to define my success? What criteria am I supposed to use for everyone else’s purpose? Are we all supposed to define our happiness by what someone else has to say? Do most of you, or any of you, wish to allow someone else to define these types of things for you?

Let me say this; 2005 was a very good year for me. In my mind, it was a very successful year, more than I could have ever asked for or expected. And I did it my way, which makes it all even more meaningful. It doesn’t mean we don’t learn something from others, because I’m always trying to learn as much as I try to educate. But in the long run, I’ll make or break by my own standards. And I like to think those standards are fairly high, and hopefully noble.

How are you defining success today?