10 Signs You’ve Made It as an Entrepreneur

UPDATED: January 6, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 6, 2023
a successful entrepreneur standing in her office

Other people call you crazy. But you call yourself an entrepreneur.

It takes a different breed to transform an idea into something real, something successful, and Steve Jobs would have tipped his hat to you for signing up for the challenge. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently,” he said. “They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things—they push the human race forward. And while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

But how do you know when you’ve finally climbed to the peak to become a successful entrepreneur? What does entrepreneurial success look like?

10 signs of successful entrepreneurs

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) shares their own moments of glory—those instances when they realized they’d hit it big. Here are 10 signs you’re a successful entrepreneur:

1. When you’re able to quit your day job

I started my business over a period of five years during which I was also employed at an established organization. When I realized that I could earn a good living without that “day job” contributing to my paycheck, it was a major coup. My business may not make millions, but if it allows me to support my family doing what I love, it has succeeded.

—Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work  

2. When someone you don’t know has heard of it                                   

The first time I met someone and told her the name of my site and she said, “Oh wow, I know Bluegala,” I knew we were a success.

—Josh Weiss, Reggie

3. You’re a successful entrepreneur when you have a tribe

I knew we had hit onto something big when my students (our clients) began to do our work for us. They were posting, sharing and answering questions from other readers for us. I realized we had a tribe of like-minded people who would do anything to grow together. It made me realize that success is about more than just being a business; it is about creating a worldwide team.

—Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

4. When people start taking you seriously

When those around me ceased asking me when I was going to get a day job and began to take my entrepreneurial endeavor seriously, I finally realized that I had reached an important milestone. What I had initially envisioned as a concept had translated outside of the boundaries of my mind into everyday life.

—Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr + consulting

5. You’re a successful entrepreneur when you make your first million

There was just something about hitting that magic number. I was speechless, emotional and fired up for more.

—Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency

6. When influential media begins covering it

When you see yourself and your business mentioned on popular websites and in mainstream media, it hits you that you are now on the public’s radar and you have achieved something. At that point, people I knew from various places would tell me that they read about me and were aware of my business. This is when I realized that brand recognition for my company was starting to take hold.

—Shawn Porat, OpenFortune

7. When you get your first acquisition offer

To me my business was never good enough. The number of customers or revenue was never where it should be. I wanted more growth. I wanted to impact more lives. And it’s not until someone else tells you how much you’re worth that you realize what you have on your hands. Placing a value on something you’ve created changes everything. It puts all of your hard work into a completely new perspective.

—Logan Lenz, Nucleus

8. You’re a successful entrepreneur the first time you say no to a lead

Having the ability to say no to a client/project/lead is when I knew we were in a good place. It’s a nice freedom to have but a hard one to earn. Being in a place where you don’t have to take everything coming your way is big. You’ll know it when you get there.

—Chuck Reynolds, Wikimedia Foundation

9. When people are coming to you

When you first start a company, you’re going out to drum up business. All of the sales coming in are most likely generated from your direct efforts. I first felt like we were doing something right when we had people reaching out to us asking if we would take them on as clients, without us having done any outreach.

—Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

10. You’re a successful entrepreneur when you see the difference your services make

Working inside the business can prevent you from stopping and celebrating the wins. But I couldn’t help but reflect when I heard that the CEO of a $750 million company cried when he watched a video we created about the founding of his brand. We knew we had a gift for telling stories through presentations and video but never imagined having that great of an impact.

—Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

This article was published in January 2015 and has been updated. Photo by PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.