Defining the Success of Your Small Business
After 14 years of managing and growing my handbag business, I made the decision to close it.
My customers were sad and expressed their desire for me to continue. It was nice to know my company and products would be missed.
Sadness was never an emotion I felt from the decision, though. How could I be sad about being successful? I accomplished my goals.
My handbags were never sold in a major department store, I never had employees and the business never hit seven figures in a year.
If I had appeared on Shark Tank I would have been told my business was not investible and likely would have been called a cockroach by Mr. Wonderful. And he would have been right. My business was a tiny speck in the extremely competitive and over-saturated world of handbags.
And yet it was still successful. As the owner of the business, I was the only person who got to define its success–I set the goals, I determined when they were met, I declared the success.
We get so caught up in what society defines as success–seven figure businesses, huge houses, luxurious vacations and closets the size of studio apartments. We think there’s something wrong with us, that we aren’t working hard enough or that we’re failures if we don’t reach this level in our businesses. It leads to a lot of unhappiness and a constant push and struggle. With this mindset, no level of success will ever be good enough.
Wherever you are in your business, goals need to be defined. Only you as the business owner get to define those goals.
The goals should be both quantitative and qualitative–goals that define where you’re trying to get and equally important, what your life will look like as you’re working to get there.
Money doesn’t have to be driving your business, but making money is an essential part of business. If you’re not making money, you have an expensive hobby. Even a non-profit needs financial goals to keep it running. Whether your financial goals are small or huge, they need to be set. You can’t get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
How much money do you need to make? How much money do you want to make? Are these goals achievable for the type of business you are running?
How many offerings do you want in your product line? How many clients do you want to service? How many people do you want to help?
By when do you want to accomplish your quantifiable goals? What are the short-term and long-term goals?
Qualitative goals are often overlooked because we get so focused on hitting a certain income or sales level. Qualitative goals are achieved while pursuing your quantitative goals. Recognizing these goals is finding happiness and satisfaction in the place you currently are. It’s viewing the now as a blessing and a lifestyle that you chose.
These aren’t goals of vacationing every summer on a yacht. These are the day to day lifestyle goals you desire while working.
Do you want to be a stay-at-home-mom? Do you want flexible hours? Do you want a business that lets you generate income by being artistic?
This type of lifestyle goal is often achieved fairly quickly and then goes unrecognized. Did you dream of flexible hours so you could be present to care for your parent or chaperone your kid’s field trip?
You may not have reached the income level yet that you desire, but if you’ve reached the day to day lifestyle you’ve always wanted, you are successful.
Business Structure Goals
Your dream may be to have two amazing employees that you see daily at your office. It may be to have contractors across the country working remotely for you while you work from home. Maybe you want a large team to operate your retail space.
Again, even if your quantitative goals haven’t been met, if you’ve created a business that operates as you want, you are successful right now.
Are you trying to educate people on a topic? Provide jobs for women in poverty? Solve a problem? Delight and inspire people with what you create?
If the work you wanted to create and share with the world is being produced, that’s success. If you’re serving the people you want to serve, that’s success.
You can be successful long before quantitative goals are reached. It simply takes acknowledging that you are successful right now, in this place. You are running a business with a purpose you love within the structure that you chose.
ALIGNING YOUR QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE GOALS
The goals you set for your business need to align with the lifestyle you desire while working toward them.
Running a multi-million dollar business while being a stay-at-home mom does not align. Creating one-of-a-kind pieces of art all made by you to be sold in a chain retailer and not needing to work on the weekend does not align. Opening a retail shop for ski equipment and wanting to live in the desert does not align.
Consider your business and lifestyle goals. Are they aligned?
Chances are if you aren’t feeling successful, there’s a misalignment.
What adjustments can you make to your qualitative and quantitative goals to help you find success?