Though not every business is the same, you’d be hard pressed to find a business owner that doesn’t share an interest in one common goal: success. But what exactly does success mean? Is it inextricably tied to a dollar sign? Is it based on overall satisfaction and happiness? Or, is it something else entirely?
In truth, success is an abstract term that can mean something different to everyone, but when it comes to running your businesses, defining success is an important step in reaching it. As you step into the new year, here are few tips on defining success in your business.
Defining Success for 2019
Determine Your Vision
One of the first steps in defining success is gaining a firm grasp of your business intentions. Obviously, you want to turn a profit and grow market share, and there is certainly a place for those goals in your roadmap to success, but without a solid vision, you’ll flounder.
You likely had a vision when you first started your business, but if you want to continually reach for and obtain success, it’s helpful to check back on your values as a business owner and determine how they attribute to your overall level of success.
Did you envision your business to be one built on social or environmental mores? Was your vision one that included multiple business locations? Did you want your business to become a pillar of the community? Whatever it is, the new year is the perfect time to write down and revisit your vision
Set Goals & Milestones
As you write down your vision, you’ll probably include a fair share of abstract concepts. Notions like growing your brand, increasing your contribution margin, becoming community-minded, or going green in the new year may all sound good on paper, but without specific goals, they remain intangible notions that will leave you chasing a white whale.
Look to your vision for goal inspiration, identifying abstract notions and then moving them to concrete ideas by creating well-defined goals. For example, if you want to increase social reach, it’s helpful to look at your current social media metrics and determine a number that represents the desired growth, e.g., 25 percent more followers by the second quarter.
Keep in mind that your goals, though lofty, must also be obtainable. This may means considering factors like past performance metrics, existing resources, and available room for growth. Though you certainly don’t want to limit your efforts to low hanging fruit, setting obscure or non-realistic goals can send you down the path to failure.
Similarly, your journey to accomplishing your goals can be cumbersome and frustrating if you don’t have milestones in place. Milestones can help you keep a tab on your efforts and offer some much-needed positivity along the way. Milestones can also help you determine when and if you need to adjust expectations or efforts, allowing you to spot potential problems in advance.
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Make a Plan
Armed with one or more goals, your next step in defining success should be designing a roadmap to get there. Though there is no single step that is more important than the others, without this step, your efforts towards reaching success can quickly become sporadic, misguided, and ineffective.
Establishing a plan will allow you to determine the answer to important questions like what resources you’ll need, how much money you’ll need to invest, and what type of personnel changes you’ll need to make in the new year. Additionally, the right plan will allow you to stay the course, incrementally working towards and defining success month by month.
Keep in mind that your plans may need to change over the course of the year to account for a variety of factors like fluctuations in cash flow, changes in product or service offerings, etc. For that reason, your plan should be something you review regularly, ensuring that it still accounts for your business needs and reflects your goals.
Ideas for Defining Success
Still not sure exactly what it means to define success? Though each business is different, there are a few areas that consistently prove to be popular ways to define success, regardless of business type. Here are a few notions that you may want to consider as you define your own path to success.
Revenue-based success: Many business owners consider profit to be a main indicator of success, with increases in profit indicating a job well done. Profit-driven goals can take on a variety meanings. Some may be defined as general, overall growth, while others may focus on a specific product or service, channel, or target audience.
Social-based success: Social media can be a good indicator of brand awareness and customer engagement, and therefore it is consistently among the top goals for business owners. In this sense, success may be something like increased followers, more customer engagement (e.g., likes, shares, comments, etc.), or social media driven conversions.
Community-based success: If your vision includes a civic component, you may be able to define success by how much you interact with and support your local community. Empowering your employees and your community to lead a happier and healthier existence may not directly translate to financial success, but businesses that show a regard for community and employees are often valued by those very same people
How you define success is entirely up to you and the unique needs and characteristics of your business. Regardless, success can be neither defined nor achieved if you don’t have a true understanding of your company’s vision and goals. Similarly, defining success also means defining a path to get there, something that can help you and your employees stay on course throughout the year.
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