One of the major benefits to small business is that the rules are always created by you. You’ve heard me say it often enough, “Your Business, Your Rules.” I’ve encouraged you to set boundaries for your business, really think about what you’re trying to achieve with it, and to make sure your business has an actual purpose for being. I’ve also spoken at length about creating your own definition of success and how long it might take for you to be “successful.”
So how do you figure out what your definition of success is, and how do you measure it?
First let me point out that success is ever-changing. You can feel it anytime you like, about anything you like. You might feel successful about something specific (a new recipe you developed, getting 100 followers on Instagram) or about something less specific (your lifestyle in general). For the purposes of this article, the goal is not that you’ll be walking around the world one hundred percent of the time with a swirling vortex of gold glitter around you, a swagger in your step and a “Yeah bitches just WATCH ME!” I mean it’s all good if you DO feel like that but feeling anything one hundred percent of the time isn’t all that realistic.
If you’re wondering why you should bother with defining and measuring success, stop and think for a minute here about ANYTHING you’ve achieved in life. Finishing high school, losing weight, finding a partner and so on. Everything we do in life has some sort of benchmark to it (although it may be unspoken). Defining and measuring is how we work out if something is actually working for us or not. It’s especially helpful if you just have that niggling feeling that something isn’t working: having these things defined and measured is a great way to re-evaluate so that they get back to working again. Several times over the course of my career I headed down the direction of a goal, only to feel along the way that it wasn’t quite right. I’d stop, reevaluate that goal, and more often than not end up moving in a different direction with a whole new goal in mind.
You’ve got to really listen to that little voice inside of you which is saying, “Hey, this isn’t right…” and then your job is to MAKE it right..but you can’t do that without knowing what “right” actually is.
So – step one to defining success for yourself: figure out what you’re going to focus on. What’s important to you? Is it the finances? Your lifestyle? The number of followers on your social media accounts? The amount of growth your business has experienced this year? Having an amazing reputation? Making celebrity cakes? How you’re going to feel about your business? Get really real about the stuff you’re aiming to GET OUT OF whatever you’re working on. You might find it helps to do this to a timeline – 6 months, 12 months, 18 months from now – and ask yourself, what do I want to see/feel/experience from my business or thing thing? Write this stuff down.
This is not something you can just scribble down on the back of a client order – you’ve got to really think about this. I want you to think about this stuff in terms of specific outcomes. So if the focus is going to be on increasing your social media numbers, then you need to put a figure on that. HOW MANY followers on Instagram? If it’s business growth, by WHAT PERCENTAGE do you want to increase turnover in the next twelve months? If it’s emotion based, what feeling do you want to feel when you’ve achieved this thing?
Step two to this: give yourself some solid, doable tasks to get going on these things. So if it’s “I want a business that allows me to sleep in on Sundays,” then your tasks might be: 1) Post your opening/closing hours on your website, 2) Resolve not to reply to emails, turn on your work phone, or do anything at all work related on Sundays, 3) Practise saying NO to orders that need to be delivered on Sundays. If your success thing is “Feel more in control of my business finances,” then your tasks could be; 1) Ask around for recommendations on a bookkeeper, 2) Make an appointment with a few of them, 3) Start getting my receipts put in order. Newsflash: In order to be a success, you have to DO STUFF. Not sit around and whine about stuff or blame it on a lack of money or time or external factors
Step three to this: figure out how you’re going to measure your successes, and a date in the future when you’re going to check in on how you’re doing. In the case of Sunday sleep ins – the way you measure it is by keeping track in a calendar of how many Sundays you took off and in 3 months time, add those up! How many sleep ins did you get? In the case of social media, keep track of your current numbers and then look at those numbers again in three months.
Here’s the KEY to this process though – if you find you’ve NOT met those success measures, you don’t drown yourself in a tube of Pringles and a bottle of red wine. Remember I said that you’ve got to really listen to that little voice inside of you which is saying, “Hey, this isn’t right…” and then your job is to MAKE it right. So if you haven’t met those measures of success, it’s time to consider why that is. Maybe that thing isn’t as important as you thought it would be, maybe you didn’t put effort into it, maybe your life got derailed by something else along the way.
Your success is only ever based on the things which are important to YOU. Get real about those, take action towards those, then check back in with yourself. It’s only by this process of “checking in – doing – checking in” that we move our businesses and our lives forward.
Swirling vortex of gold glitter and swagger is optional.