As the year comes to an end, how do you think your small business (and you as a business owner) fared? The answer will be different for everyone, and the criteria the answer is based on will be different as well.

Depending on your goals and priorities, “success” may mean something else for you than it does for the shop owner down the street. Inc. recently did a roundup of some really interesting studies on the subject, one of which showed the different ways the small business owners who were surveyed measure their success. Where do you fit on this graph?

24% – Earn enough to live comfortably
23% – Do something I enjoy
18% – Increase profitability from year to year
9% – Pay employees enough to live comfortably
9% – Other
7% – Have free time to do what I want
6% – Pass the business to a family member
4% – Sell the business for a big profit

One interesting thing here is that while many of these measures are financial in nature, the second largest group said that doing something they enjoyed was the way they measure success – even more than increasing profitability. And while that’s interesting, it’s not entirely surprising.

If making money and increasing personal profit (salary) each year was the only important factor influencing a person’s decision making, would that person ever go out on a limb and leave the security of a large employer? Not likely. It’s the quest for independence and rewarding work that drives most people to take a chance on starting a small business.

And with Forbes reporting 28 million small businesses in the US right now, hopefully more and more people are finding the successful work life they were looking for when they struck out on their own.

Your turn! Tell us what drove you to start a small business, and how you are measuring your success in 2013.

(Original article)