Is the Need for Achievement Necessary for Success in Small Business?

Is the Need for Achievement Necessary for Success in Small Business?

The question of whether the need for achievement is necessary for success in anything is a more relevant question.  Of course we must also define how we measure success for this is a relative term defined by the observer. 

I have contemplated this question for days and still I find it difficult to grasp all of the possible scenarios and circumstances that may lead to success in business other than the need for achievement, and alternative definitions of what success means to each of those who would define it in their terms of measure.  I find it beyond me or any one man or woman, limited to genius IQ, to give any universally definitive answer.  Since I am limited and not by any means genius I am constrained to answer the first part of this question relative to my experiences, who I am, my values, and what I believe success to be, reserved to small business. I leave it up to the readers to juggle my viewpoints with this philosophical debacle and agree or disagree with any or all parts of it. 

The first issue is the various ways in which success can be measured, in relation to small business anyways.  One could say that to most people, I propose, success would be defined strictly by monetary aspects.  How much money do I make or how much money have I made?  Perhaps the measure of success does not lie in how much money is made but in the longevity of the small business.  Then again success might also be the impact that the business had on the world whether it made any money or lasted very long.  Napster is a perfect example of this case because it went bankrupt and lasted for a short period of time but its impact devastated the music industry and forever changed it.  Shaun Fanning believed his vision to be a success but measured by monetary or longevity standards others would call it a failure. 

Now that we are on the same page as to some ways I have thought up that define success in business it will be far easier for me to convince you that achievement lays at the foundation for each of these potential success stories.  Yes for without the need to achieve an individual would not even venture to start a business or build a product, to make money, run their own business, or change the world.    However as I write this I begin to wonder about the term need.  Need is such a strong word and in the question posed, is “necessary”.  Could not the “want” for achievement be enough to have success?  I suppose so long as that “want” translates into action.  When I think of the word need and the gravity of “needing” something I think of the air we need to breathe or the food we need to eat….hmm what about the gas we need to buy to get to work?  The first two are needs for sure but is the last one a need?  Perhaps the first two are natural needs than there are such things as man-made needs otherwise I might call social needs. 

But at this point I have convinced myself otherwise and have concluded that the need for achievement is not necessary for success….because there is no real need for achievement, unless we agree to consider man-made needs to be real.  I do however think it’s fair to say that one would, at least, have to have the “want” to achieve in order to successful in business because without it why would they even be working at it or on it in the first place?


  1. Hello George,

    I think you raise an interesting point when discussing how success is measured. Success is a relative term, and means different things for different people. Some people look at Shaun Fanning as a failure. Whereas, he may see himself as a successful. The more I learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, the more I realize that one can turn even turn failures into success. Especially when a person learns from his or her past mistakes, and tries something new and innovative.

    I believe that a person’s need for achievement is very necessary for success, however, I also believe that a person’s need for achievement should not blind them to the fact that failure can also lead to achievement and success.

  2. Rick Childress |

    A very basic barometer of success would be the sustainability of the venture. I tend to take a long-term view of success. A venture that had short-term success but was not viable in the long-term was never successful. Was Bernie Madoff successful. Well, according to many he was successful for years. Was ENRON successful? It was an illusion. As a country we need a different perspective on success. A long-term, ethical, valued perspective is what is needed.

  3. Hi George I appreciate your analysis and thoughts on the definition of success. I also like Rick’s emphasis on the long term valuation. I recently read an article by a leader in the photography industry which encourages entrepreneurs to really keep personal happiness and health a priority for their sake’s but also for benefit of the business in the long run.