Beyond the Bottom Line: How to Measure the Success of Your Business
Move away from traditional metrics and use a more holistic approach to assess your company's overall success.
The other day, someone asked me an interesting question: do I create an impact report for myself or my business, and if so, how? The short answer is yes, I do, but my approach might be more holistic than many are used to.
Rather than only focusing on financial and growth goals, I measure my impact and success in a variety of ways. As I’m all about sharing knowledge and helping others, I’ll make sure to include some personal examples for you to see what this looks like.
Numbers, numbers, numbers
Numbers are a good measurement system if you know what you’re measuring. It’s not only about the actual digits more so what these numbers actually mean. You can look at your annual revenue, your following on social media, monthly website visits, or even how many hours you work a day. But what do these actually tell you? I used to look at the number of proposals I would send out and would literally celebrate getting another proposal request (how naive of me!). If you think about that for a second you will soon realize that this doesn’t tell you anything valuable. You could be sending out 10 proposals per week and never get a single one approved. How valuable is that in the long run, huh? This is a mistake I used to make very early on, sending out a proposal too soon into the process. People would ask me to write them a proposal and sometimes without even having talked to me first. The result of this? These proposals would never get approved, obviously, as there wasn’t a real connection with the prospect nor a good understanding of their challenges, desired outcome (for their audience), or budget. If you take ‘sending proposals’ as your way of measuring success, your goal will (un)consciously be to send out as many proposals as possible. This results in a waste of time, effort, and resources. The time you put into writing a proposal, which often takes me anywhere between 1 hour to 10 hours, can’t be used on something else. So sending out proposals for the sake of sending them out, when your overall goal is to make revenue, isn’t a number you should be tracking. Instead, you should look at the number of proposals getting approved. Also, if you send out fewer proposals and spend more time on understanding your prospects and their needs, it will eventually lead to getting more projects approved. This number tells you way more about how well you’re doing than the number of proposals you’re sending out. Back to talking real numbers. In the past 3 years, I started sending proposals directly from my accounting system vs emailing them. Since 2022 I have solely kicked-off projects that got approved through this system (the numbers below are only from my accounting system):
2020: Of the 10 proposals, 1 got approved
2021: Of the 7 proposals, 4 got approved
2022: Of the 13 proposals, 8 got approved.
What this tells me is that I’m doing a way better job at understanding my prospects, aligning and managing their expectations, understanding who does/doesn’t have the budget, and ultimately how I’ll spend my time. This often means saying no on sales calls when I realize it's not a good fit. At the end of the day, you’re simply wasting time and losing money if 1 proposal gets approved out of 10.
A toolbox full of joy
Another way I measure success is by understanding how well I’m able to understand and align my clients’ desired outcomes with practical tools and technology.
I’m that person who has a whole toolbox full of the latest innovations, technology implementations, exercises, and theories that are ready to be put to the test. Why? It makes their work more efficient, effective, and fun. Depending on the project, I always implement two or three new tools to help serve my clients better. In return, this has made my work more exciting as well as being able to help my client’s better. Late last year I organized a medical conference for RMHC on Curaçao and my client was looking for a fun way to kick off their conference and encourage interaction among the group.
Participants were welcomed at the conference and were asked to check in on their phones by drawing a selfie. This resulted in lots of conversations and laughter about the drawings, people taking pictures of the selfies, and others helping those who weren’t as tech-savvy. The response of my client and the conference participants were a great way to measure if the implementation was successful or not. Another way to measure the success of tool implementation is by figuring out if the client is solely using this during a project (as you proposed) or if it has become part of their work process even after your project.
In need of some inspo? Make sure to check out one of the following:
For engaging workshops or meetings: Butter
Online Interactive whiteboards: Mural or Miro
Check-in questions to break the ice: Daresay
Online basic photoshop-like website: Photopea
Project management and planning tool for teams: Asana or Trello
An interactive way to kick off a meeting, workshop or conference: Piccles
P.s they’re all free to use!
"Renate's well-organized and structured approach to work has been a significant contributor to the success of our annual conferences. Her expertise in providing effective tools and knowledge has enabled our team to implement solutions with greater ease. We have benefited greatly from her input and together we’ll achieve more great things in the future!”
Feedback isn’t for the weak
I know lots of people who find asking for feedback extremely scary and if you’re one of those people I’m here to tell you that you should always ask for feedback regardless! Oxford’s definition of feedback is: “Information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.” Asking for feedback isn’t a personal attack on your character, more so information on how you’re currently doing and how you could potentially improve your work. Not asking for feedback also deprives you of hearing what you’re doing well. And who doesn’t like a good compliment or two? A fun and quick way to ask for feedback is by using the Roses, buds and thorns analogy:
Roses: What was working well and what was a success?
Buds: What has potential and should work well with some extra attention?
Thorns: What were some challenges or factors that aren’t working?
Based on the feedback I receive I know how well I’m helping my clients and their audience, as well as things I could do to be of better help. Their input removes all the guesswork making my life and improving my work easier. You can also use a good old questionnaire, and when doing so make sure you keep the user in mind. After all, it’s 2023, so make sure it’s a fun and easy experience for your audience. Ask only what you need to know and make sure your questions give you the right input of what you’re trying to measure.
Ultimately, success can be measured in a variety of ways, so don’t limit yourself to traditional metrics. I would love to hear from you, on how you evaluate your success and how you came about measuring these specific elements.