Success Metrics for Entrepreneurs Tired of Talking About Money
If money wasn’t the reason why you built your business in the first place, why are you using it as the sole indicator of your success?
It’s exhausting how intensely success is correlated with money when you’re an entrepreneur. All the headlines you see in magazines and clickbaity articles revolve around the entrepreneur who raised or made an insane amount of capital in a short sprint of time.
Money isn’t a great benchmark of success however if money wasn’t the reason why you started your business in the first place.
Many of us started our businesses because we saw a way to measurably do something better than it’s currently being done, or we saw a way to improve people’s lives drastically through our product or service. We were driven by a passion or fire to do better.
Why do we, then, rely on money as a major indicator of our business’ success, when money is merely a byproduct and not the ultimate crown of achievement that motivated us in the first place?
I think it has a lot to do with society’s obsession with financial indicators like GDP and stock market performance to gather a sweeping pulse on the wellbeing of a country at any given time.
We fallback on financial indicators by default rather than challenging ourselves to measure better.
The fun thing about having your own business is that you can do whatever you freaking want and can curb the worship around financial indicators to measure your business’ success.
It’s healthy to move away from only studying financial indicators when checking in on your business. The more you introduce non-financial indicators to measure success, the sooner you’ll view success for the diverse stew it is — one where money isn’t the main ingredient.
Here are some alternative success indicators to help you measure your business’ growth more truthfully and accurately to your mission and intentions.
What got you involved in your business in the first place?
Before we start, you should first identify what inspired you to build your business in the first place.
Was it making an impact? Helping people? Improving a product or service category that desperately needed an upgrade?
Get crystal clear on what your motivating inspiration was to start your business, and what continues to motivate you to do your work. Once you understand this, it’ll be much easier for you to identify the success metrics that make sense for you.
Success Metric: Transformation & Impact
For those of you who created your business so that you could steward transformations and make an impact through your product or service, this metric is for you.
Just like money is tracked in a more formal environment like spreadsheets and bookkeeping software, I recommend housing your transformations in a similar, official setting to give it the respect and acknowledgment it deserves.
It’s not until you visually show yourself that the transformation you enact per customer is important, that your brain will adopt it as such. Once you collect all of your data for the year, you’ll be able to clearly see how well you’re batting (did 98% of your customers last year have a stellar experience with you that impacted their lives for the better?) and pinpoint what you can improve to catch the 2% that you could’ve done better for.
Here are ways you can track transformation and impact per customer, broken down by service providers and product-based businesses.
For Service Providers:
If you are selling some kind of service offering like a course, coaching, or design services, you can capture how your offering has affected your customer in a positive way by asking really good questions and practicing good follow-up.
We often take feedback at face value, rather than making a full conversation out of it. I often find that dishing out the transformation one has experienced doesn’t fully come into focus until you ask the person to reflect on it in a specific direction.
Asking people to overall provide feedback doesn’t help either, they tend to ruminate rather than hone in on specific transformations they’ve experienced. Asking targeted questions about how the individual experienced growth under particular themes is the best approach, in my opinion.
Good follow-up is also key because transformation often takes time to mature. I tend to check in on my clients every couple of months through Instagram or email to ask them about how their business is going and how they’re progressing on the work we had done together.
For Product-Based Businesses:
If you sell a product, social platforms like Instagram are great places to understand how your product has impacted your customer. I pay attention to posts and stories customers share on these platforms to understand what specifically they’re enjoying about the product.
Not all consumers are vocal about communicating their opinions about the product though, so a quick one-question survey sent via email that asks “Do you still use and enjoy our product? Why?” at specific time milestones is a great way to gauge where customers’ heads are at.
Similar to services, it’s important to gauge interest at different time milestones other than the time of initial purchase so that you can understand if your product still holds a meaningful place in a customer’s life long after purchase.
Success Metric: Raving Fans
Another worthy success metric to watch is the number of raving fans that you have. If you got into your work to upgrade a product or service and to do it better than what’s currently out there, this metric will help you see how well you’re doing.
Are your past and current customers so happy with your product or service that they’re either returning to you as much as possible or telling their friends and family about your offering?
If your customers’ experience is so positive that they’re willing to sell your products or services for you through word-of-mouth, you’ve hit one of the most important success metrics out there, the raving fans metric.
To me, having a community of raving fans is the holy grail of success for a business — it shows that you’ve nailed down a secret sauce or value prop that people want. Once you’ve earned this, the raving fans shield is hard to penetrate and keeps a business booming through thick and thin.
If you’ve hit this arena of high delight where customers are spilling over with joy and helping you grow your business virally, you should track this metric to ensure that you know what’s contributing to the delight.
Is it just your product that people are stoked about? Your customer service? Your marketing campaigns? What’s the source of your fans’ obsession?
Once you’ve identified it, do everything in your power to keep that momentum going.
What levers can you maintain, improve on, and increase to bump up satisfied, returning customers and referrals? How can you stoke the raving fans fire?
Want to turn your startup chase into a victory lap? My Friday morning emails will help you get over your Crux.