Dec 31st, 2021

Acknowledging success - big and small

by Synne Lindén

As a business owner, it’s easy to feel like you’re running in place. We’ve all been there. You were ecstatic and full of drive when you started your business. But now, you’re in the thick of it. You’re deep in the trenches of the everyday mundane of running a company. It’s emails and calls, frustrating setbacks, isolating work, and more. 

In other words, it’s the same old same old. 

Sure, you started your business, and you’re making it work. Other than that, you’re having a hard time finding anything worth celebrating. You’re just getting through the day-to-day. 

Why it’s important to acknowledge success 

Let’s be honest. Nothing keeps us going more than seeing our progress. Think of your commute home. You may have a particular road sign, tree, bump in the road, or store that signals that you’re almost there. No matter how tired you are, that little signal gives you the last push you need to make it home.

Acknowledging success as a business owner works the same way. 

In a 2011 study, researchers found that acknowledging employees’ success increased productivity for the company. Why? Our brains love when we have a little win! When we acknowledge success, our brains release dopamine. Dopamine is a “feel good” neurotransmitter that’s associated with rewards. 

So, when you acknowledge a success, your brain releases dopamine as a reward. This makes your brain associate success with positive feelings, and in turn, you want to complete another task and earn another reward.

The short version—acknowledging success pushes us to keep going. 

What wins we should acknowledge

It’s important to acknowledge both big and small wins. 

We’re all going to have those big wins as business owners. The day you started your brand, the day you earned your first customer or client, the day you receive an award for your accomplishments, and so on. These are the big wins. The things we feel are worth celebrating with friends, family, and anyone who’s helped us along the way. 

However, it’s also important to celebrate or at least acknowledge our small wins. Small success happens daily. One of my favorite daily wins to acknowledge is finishing my various writing tasks. Maybe one of them only takes me an hour, but at the end of that hour, I can say that I did it, and I did it well. That’s a win. 

I encourage you to find your small wins and acknowledge them as you work. It can be any small task such as finishing a Zoom call or checking one task off of your to-do list. Just remember to acknowledge a few small wins every day to keep you going.  

How to acknowledge success 

The big wins are easy to celebrate. You go to an awards ceremony. You mail magazines with an article about your business to friends and family. You receive congratulatory calls from business partners and loved ones. 

How do you acknowledge a small success? 

Actively acknowledge your small wins. As small business owners, we’re often closed away in our offices or homes. We are isolated while we work. When you have a small win, don’t just sit at your desk and think to yourself, “I did it.” 

Take action. 

Say out loud, “I did it.” Reward yourself with some fresh air for a moment. Do whatever feels like a reward for you. Take a second and tell your brain that it’s time for a little dopamine reward. 


Acknowledging success—a roadmap 

 Find your renewed source of motivation through acknowledging success. Remember the following steps and watch as you check tasks off your to-do list with enthusiasm. 

  1. Acknowledge your successes, big and small, with an action. 

  2. Acknowledge the success of your employees or contractors (if applicable). This helps team members feel seen and appreciated while increasing motivation. 

  3. Reward yourself daily and keep going. 

Feel like sharing one of your recent wins—big or small? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear about your success! 

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