During the beginning phases of your startup, sometimes it can be hard to tell how well you are doing. Success means different things to everyone, so you need to come up with your own realistic definition of it in order to know what you are looking for. In these initial stages, it is important to manage your expectations and set achievable, realistic goals and benchmarks. There are also so many different aspects to business that you may be doing well in one aspect, but not so well in another. That is why it is so important to consider each of these different aspects together but separately. Then you can pick out what areas are doing well and what areas you need to work on to improve.
Look at the Money
Obviously the most common definition of a successful business involves money. Usually, it involves profit and cash flow as well. But for a startup, it can take some time for you to start to earn a profit…so how can you measure success in this context? There are three different financial aspects that you should be looking at here: your income statement, your balance sheet, and your cash flow statement. The income statement shows your profitability; the balance sheet shows your assets, debts, and investments; and the cash flow statement shows your liquid assets. It is important to analyze all these statements in order to get the big picture of your business’ finances. The cash flow statement is especially important because it shows liquidity which you will need to use on various aspects of running your business. If you are low on liquidity, don’t panic! You can consider taking out a startup business loan from a company like Seek Capital in order to increase your liquidity and have the cash you need to run your business successfully.
Look at the Customers
Another way to measure your startup’s success is through looking at the satisfaction levels of your customers. There are several ways to go about getting feedback – either through reviews, surveys, focus groups, or just simple conversations with customers. If the customer is satisfied, then your startup is well on its way to success because the customer is the most important aspect and if they aren’t happy, then that’s definitely not a good thing. At the same time, it is also important to consider negative feedback – even though it might hurt a little. Through constructive criticism, you can learn what you can improve on and work on those aspects in order to increase customer satisfaction and achieve more success!
Look at the Employees
While customer satisfaction is obviously important, employee satisfaction and performance is often overlooked as an indicator of success. You also need to seek feedback from your employees just as you do from customers! Many businesses conduct employee performance reviews annually or semi-annually to check in on employees’ satisfaction and performance. It is important to have these conversations with your team to keep everything running as productively and efficiently as possible. Through performance reviews, you can see who might need some extra training, whose workload is too big, and who might be able to take on some extra tasks. Your team is your biggest asset, so you need to invest in them as well and make sure that they are satisfied and that they have everything they need in order for your business to prosper!
Look at the Market
Looking at the market as a whole is also a good way to measure your startup’s success. If the market is booming and you are too, then that is a good sign! However, if you are struggling a bit and the market isn’t at its best – don’t get too discouraged. Markets constantly go up and down and you sometimes just have to go with the flow because there’s nothing you can do. You need to constantly monitor the market so that you can anticipate fluctuations and make any appropriate adjustments to your business beforehand. For example, if the market is slowing and so if your profit, it could be a good time to introduce new products to try to bring back up your demand. Creativity and flexibility are important traits to have when dealing with the market and you always need to be prepared to come up with new ideas and solutions if need be.
Look at Yourself
Of course, success depends a lot on what you think of it. Running a startup can be extremely stressful, time-consuming, and hectic. You need to have a passion for your business in order to justify spending all your time and energy trying to engineer its success. If you aren’t happy, then it doesn’t matter how profitable your business is – that’s not success. You may need to make some changes in your business to increase your personal satisfaction. Work-life balance is often a key aspect that can be hard to achieve while running a startup. Remember that you won’t be at your best if you aren’t happy and your business needs you at your best in order to run well. Take time for yourself! Spend time with friends and family, go for a walk, exercise, meditate, do whatever you need to do to get away and just take a second to relax. You will come back more motivated and energized and ready to get down to work!