I have started to purge all the paper and files in my office. It’s overwhelming to say the least.

But in going through this process, I unearthed a training guide that I co-wrote 22 years ago – Smart Start: Ten steps to running a self-employment training program for women.

It was like a trip down memory lane as I looked through the guide. We sure were thorough in terms of what we asked from the applicants, over and above an interview, there’s a one-page application form, a nine-page personal story board and a 50-question quiz to determine whether you had what it takes to “successfully run a profitable business.”

So for fun, I decided to take the quiz.

I felt sure, after 18 years in business, I would ace it.

I didn’t.

Now I didn’t do badly but I wasn’t in the top-ranked category, I was in the 2nd tier of those who had a “60% chance of still being in business two years down the road.” Good to know. My score also indicated that I would do better working in partnerships. In other words, not relying totally on my own business acumen!

Hmmm – just as well I didn’t apply for the program. In fact back in 1997 I was the Executive Director of the Women’s Centre, a non-profit organization serving women and the ones hosting the program.

But perhaps there is an explanation to my end result. Part of it is to do with your definition of success. When you look at the words – “successfully run a profitable business” it will mean something different to each of us.

For example, I think it is safe for me to say that Company of Women is successful. But is it making huge profits? Well no. But making lots of money has never been a driver for me. It has always been about making a difference.

In fact for the past 17 years I have been running Company of Women as a social enterprise. What does that mean? Basically all profits made go back into the organization, including my time. As my accountant jokes “it’s kept me busy and off the streets.”

So maybe the quiz was accurate after all. And certainly the partnership component is true as I partner with my chapter leaders to deliver our programs and services.

At the end of the day it all boils down to our definitions of success. The key is to make sure that you are living YOUR dream, not someone else’s.

I have to say finding the guide made for an interesting detour from the task in hand.   And since the memories of how the program impacted women brought me “joy”, I am keeping it.

Anne Day

Anne Day

Company of Women

I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.