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You are all here because you want to be successful. What does that mean?

What does success look like to a group of MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation students? This is a question they were asked by a London-based start-up on a recent trek to the city. There were many answers – but these 3 themes emerged.

We all want to be successful. I am sure that if you go around asking everyone on the street nearly all of them would say “yes.” But what does that mean? And what will it look like when we are successful?

One way to figure this out was to ask me and 29 of my MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation classmates from the University of Edinburgh Business School.

The 30 of us, plus three university staff, were visiting Escape the City to learn about the business, the entrepreneurs’ story, and about meaningful work. And we did, only to then be poised with the question: “what does success mean to you?”

Well, as you might expect from a group of 30 individuals from different countries, age groups, backgrounds, and working experiences – our answers were quite different.

But despite these differences a few themes emerged.

  1. Achieve a work life balance

We all wanted to achieve a work-life balance that fits our needs and lifestyle. Some of my peers want to be able to take breaks and work according to when they are productive, not what works between the traditional 9-5. Some of us want to be able to work and support a family but also have time to come home and be with their family.

This work-life balance is to ensure that we have flexibility and can focus on building and maintaining a positive well-being. The ideal balance and flexibility, for example, to be living and working on a beautiful beach but to maintain financial security. Or the flexibility to travel and explore the world. The ability to take on new challenges such as triathlons and Tough Mudder or continue our passion for learning. All in all, we wanted to ensure our future success allows for flexibility in our lives to achieve our own goals of well-being and wellness.

2. Make an impact and find fulfillment

We do not just want to work to achieve profits or promotion but want to be working with purpose, be inspired, and realise our dreams. Many of my classmates noted that they want to be working in a position or in a company where they are able to make a positive impact through working in a social enterprise or developing more sustainable companies. Interestingly, one person commented that they want to do inspiring work, but more importantly they want to be working with inspiring people.

3. Be happy

All of these success factors and visions of success converged under a unifying purpose of being happy.

Because everyone wants to be happy. I bet you’ll have a very difficult time finding someone who doesn’t want to be happy. For us success and happiness are interrelated and achieving them looks differently for each of us.

Now, what is success to you?

Success themes



Published by

Elizabeth Harris, MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Elizabeth is a student on the MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation (2017) programme.