Social media, the internet, and technology make it challenging to define “success.” It’s all too easy to compare your business to the businesses with 25, 50, or 100k followers. Not to mention the businesses with massive revenue numbers or lines out their doors at events!

Looking at other businesses online creates FOMO (fear of missing out), follower count envy, comparisonitis, fake curated social media feeds, bloated or inflated bragging, and promises that certainly can’t be kept. We all do it. And then we can sometimes beat ourselves up for not being THAT business.

In the end, you find yourself measuring your business with someone else’s yardstick. You get roped into what you “should” be doing because it will supposedly make you successful, rather than determining what success looks like to you.

YOUR measure of success is what matters. What others define as successful has no bearing on your business. 

And I’ll let you in on a secret: no matter how glamorous other businesses may appear online, we don’t actually know what is happening in their businesses. When it comes down to it, it’s just silly to compare ourselves to something we don’t even see the reality of!

How Do YOU Define Retail Success?

As one of our Master Shopkeepers said in a recent group discussion, “You don’t have to shopkeep like everyone else.” 

Before we head into 2022, I want you to have a conversation with yourself about what retail success means to you.

I want you to have a deep and honest conversation with yourself, without shiny object syndrome playing a role and certainly without the influence of social media! Journal on this without your phone, tablet, computer, or any other distractions. We don’t want to define your success while letting other influences in!

Potential Ways to Measure Success in Your Business

So, what are some ways we can measure success in our retail businesses? There’s no one right answer, but here are some ideas based on what I’ve seen in the Savvy Shopkeepers community.


Some of you might define success by a revenue number, which could be for various reasons. Money isn’t just a vanity metric, and none of us should judge a retailer who wants to run a million-dollar business.

On the flip side, we also shouldn’t judge a retailer who sets smaller goals. If you’re busy judging other retailers for this, let’s work on your mindset.


You know I love this one—and it’s for SO many reasons. The biggest reason is that I want you to empower yourself as a business owner and NOT a hobbyist. Because retailers spend so much on the cost of goods, it’s not always easy to get to profitability. But it IS possible. 

Your Compensation

Maybe you want to measure “success” when or by how much you can pay yourself. There’s no shame in this game! The income from my store contributes to my household, and it’s a MUST for me. Yes, I love my customers and have a passion for retail. But this one, for me personally, determines success.

Business (or Social Media) Growth

Year-over-year growth might be your benchmark. For instance, maybe you want to see your business grow 5% every year (or more). Or, if social media is your jam—and especially if it’s a lead revenue generator—maybe you want to hit 10K followers in 2 years. 

One thing I want to mention is the idea of a slow burn rather than a fast burn. We’ve all seen retail businesses that take off and get BIG quickly. This can sometimes lead other retailers to “wonder what is wrong with me?”

But what’s important to note is that most retailers grow SLOWLY. This is the norm and not the exception! So we mustn’t compare ourselves to those that grow much faster than us.

Customers and Their Satisfaction 

Your measurement of success might have NOTHING to do with numbers. It might be the pure joy you get from serving customers and having satisfied customers. If spreading your wisdom, talent, and joy with others is your benchmark, I have a lot of respect and admiration for you.

Your Satisfaction

Perhaps you’re measuring success by the fulfillment you get from being your own boss. Giving back to your community, living out your dreams, and carrying out your mission might be how you measure success. 

Others’ Satisfaction

Perhaps seeing your team members, surrounding small businesses, and vendors grow and succeed is fulfilling for you!

Personal Growth

Another measurement of success can be your personal growth as a human being, learner, and business owner. I know we can all relate to this one. I feel like I learn, grow and become a better human being with every year I’m in business.

Your Lifestyle 

This one resonates with me a lot. I made BIG changes in my life and then in my businesses to live a life I love—one that isn’t consumed with work, yet checks off all the other “goal” boxes. 

Running a retail business doesn’t mean you have to be IN the store seven days a week or working 80+ hours. This is YOUR business. You get to set it up the way you want! I work with many of my 1:1 clients on this exact topic. 

Whatever Measurement You Choose, Make Sure it Works for YOU

Your measurement of success isn’t going to be determined by just one of the possible measurements. It might be a combination of several! 

The Master Shopkeepers member who said, “You don’t have to shopkeep like everyone else,” is definitely unique. She spent most of the pandemic working on her mindset around this, and I give her so much credit. She has a unique business model and a very unique location.

 Most importantly, she has given herself grace and empowered herself to build a business in a way that works for HER. It’s seasonal and with a small team. She has shorter in-store work weeks than most of us. She “gifts” herself with time to disconnect from others, make her own items, and be creative.

There are also shopkeepers in our community with multiple locations, big teams, and they are open seven days a week. They have such large volumes of merchandise that they have dedicated teams just for inventory and a full-time or breadwinning income.

And then there’s a shopkeeper who’s somewhere in between these two. With a flexible part-time schedule for herself and part-time pay, they’re paying themselves $25+/hour, have a profitable business, and serve delighted customers.

I know of another shopkeeper in our community who is finding her way. She’s working on finding the right balance between business direction and growth, along with how much she works, too. She recently realized that her health and precious time with family are what will help determine her success.

ALL of these shopkeepers I just mentioned probably feel a level of success or feel like they are striving for success. But they’re all on very different paths and using other measurements.

You don’t have to shopkeep like your neighbor or the business across town. But you DO need to honor what success means to you!  

As you journal, write down everything that success might look like in your life and business.

If success means….

  • A million-dollar profitable business
  • A business that fulfills a mission of educating others 
  • Growing an empire of retail businesses
  • Creating a beautiful retail destination
  • Enjoying time with others and serving your customers and community
  • Being your own boss and paying yourself so you can contribute to your household
  • Being the breadwinner of your family

…then write that down as you journal on what success means to you.

Remember, success is personal. Success is subjective. And there is no one out there that gets to tell you that you aren’t successful. 



  • [03:46] How do YOU define retail success?
  • [06:01] Potential ways to measure success in your business
  • [12:54] Whatever measurement you choose, make sure it works for you

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