Do you feel successful?
Are others telling you that you are successful?
If only you could have some way to way to measure true success it might really convince you that you've made it. This is often the thought process of an entrepreneur.
I want to be successful and make my business ideas work, and I'm an optimistic person so I envision success.
However, my investors and others involved in the business actually want to see a measurement that tells them it really is true success.
Here are 7 ways you can measure to find out just how successful you and your business are becoming, starting with some basic metrics and ending with some more unique ways to think about success metrics:
While it's clear that when your business is making money - it means some measure of success, especially if there is money left over after you cover all your expenses. You may have even turned the corner from months of being in the red. However, your true measure of success will be being in the black, for a year or longer. From there, your true measure of success will be creating sustainable profitability that continues long into the future.
This may require tweaks in your strategy, ongoing assessment of your processes and costs to see where you can become leaner and more efficient. I remember those first few months when I finally started having money left over to pay myself. That's when it started to feel like I was finally making it.
2. Number of Customers:
Every company needs customers. There's no point in time when I've decided I have enough customers. Your measure of success should show a growing customer base with a steady stream of leads in the pipeline. Those pioneering customers were exciting to me, but when I began to see more and more people show an interest and buy what I was selling, I knew that what I created was successful. The countless hours of research and marketing had finally paid off.
Yet, that true measure of success in terms of number of customers was just temporary. I had to keep working hard - and work smarter - to attract more of my target audience.
3. Satisfaction Level of Those Customers
Beyond the quantity of customers, my true measure of success was really more about how happy I was making the customers I had.
Their satisfaction would mean that future customers might come from what they had to say to their friends, family, and colleagues rather than from my research and marketing. The ability to satisfy my customers meant that what I learned about them and their needs was being applied correctly to the service I was offering them. It's vital to also create customer service policies for your company so that everyone that works within the organization understands the role they will play in fulfilling the needs of customers. It only takes one negative customer experience to immediately put the skids on that true success number you built up and were having in terms of customer satisfaction.
Continually looking at how customers are being satisfied every day through every point of contact they have with your company, not just with the actual product or service you are offering - tells you where a large piece of your true measure of success is coming from.
4. Employee Satisfaction
Happy, motivated employees tell you a lot about your real success. When they are satisfied, they are busy working hard. After all, their productivity is the engine that fuels the business. If employees are smiling at customers, then the customer feels good. If each employee is working beyond their role, then the business flourishes.
In my own company, I've focused on creating a comfortable work environment that gives employees everything they need to do their jobs well, and I also work to have my team enjoy their work while they are doing it. For my remote staff, I've also ensured that they feel satisfied with the work they have and regularly let them know just how much I appreciate their hard work. I also work to insure that my remote staff feels like they are a part of the entire team - and that they are not alone. I make myself accessible when they have questions so they don't become frustrated because of non-communication. Happy employees mean a happy (successful) business.
5. Your Satisfaction
This is a tough one for me because my entrepreneurial spirit and personality are basically never satisfied. This is because I have often paired satisfaction with settling. In actual fact, I've learned over the years that I can be satisfied and still pursue more.
It has been a good lesson for me to realize it's good to feel satisfied with the results of the business as it develops and celebrate those "wins" along the way. I love to work. It was a learning curve to find out how to balance satisfaction with results, and with my burning desire to do more.
6. Level of Learning and Knowledge
While it may seem like a strange way to measure success, it's really not -- given the fact that it's this learning and knowledge that provide you with the market, customer, competitor and economic intelligence to help shape your strategy. This continual learning doesn't just come from what I've read or observed; it's also about practical experience that I've gained by putting my strategy to work and witnessing the outcome. That means that even failure is necessary in order to achieve a certain level of learning and knowledge.
In this way, learning from my failures has actually become part of the necessary equation for achieving real success. I know where to dodge the pitfalls and bumps - because I've seen them before. I think in a way, it's kind of like "street smarts." You don't get street smarts sitting on the couch watching T.V.
7. How You Spend Your Time
The reason determining how you spend your time each day is a real measure of success is because this tells you if you have been able to delegate, create an efficient organization, and it determines what your main priorities need to be as the leader of a company. I tend to work all the time, but what I realized is that I could be more successful by prioritizing tasks and letting go of some of the less important tasks. I could let others take the lead, which builds them into a fantastic, trusted team.
But, the biggest benefit is that it freed up time for me to focus on those strategic areas where I excelled, helping to provide a clearer direction for the company. This also gave me time for reflection and my own learning and development as well as allowed me to carve out more personal time to take care of myself and spend time with family and friends.
As you can see, most of these true measures of success are more qualitative than relative to your financial reports and bottom line. Each one of these measures also requires continued attention, and influences the results of the other suggestions on the list.
If I am not satisfied, then most likely my employees are not. If customers are not satisfied, it may be that they are on the receiving end of a dissatisfied employee, or a disgruntled customer could be pointing to our level of learning about what they truly need.
The real measure of success then is to deliver to yourself, your employees and your company on all seven of these actions at once both now - and long into the future.