Management thought leader and author Peter Drucker once wrote, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Recent research has suggested that many entrepreneurs chose the path they did because they desired one thing—meaning. How can we lead our businesses in measurable and meaningful ways, without getting lost in measuring and focusing on things that don’t really matter?
Check out these 20 ideas we’ve put together to help you assess your growth as a business owner and freelancer.
1. Meeting real needs.
You can be growing, but you can also be growing in a direction that no longer meets the needs of the clients you serve. One way to measure your business growth is to compare it to actual needs of your community and customers through regular needs assessments.
Are you growing relative to similar businesses in your field? What other businesses out there provide services like yours, and how are you different or the same?
3. Leads and referrals.
Tracking the number of new leads and referrals you have each month can give you helpful insights into patterns. Asking these leads how they heard about you is another opportunity to learn what’s working well and possibly whom to thank for referrals.
4. Ratings and recognition.
Higher customer ratings are correlated with increased business. Regularly review your ratings, whether on Google, Yelp, or any other online customer reviews. Looking at ratings and reviews over time can indicate whether you’re growing in a positive direction in the eyes of your customers. Another way to measure growth is being recognized as a leading business in your community or industry, such as applying for and achieving a widely known business recognition, distinction, or seal of integrity that you can display in your marketing.
5. New clients.
If people are knocking on your proverbial door to do business with you, chances are you’re doing something right by offering a needed service and having positive word-of-mouth marketing from your existing customers. Learn more about them and what brought them to your business.
Repeat business and contract renewals are an important aspect of sustainable business. What percentage of your customers would you consider loyal or repeat customers? These are important relationships to nurture, as loyal clients make great (free) marketers who will often happily test-drive new products and services and can even provide the most helpful insights to improve your overall business strategy.
7. New hires.
New team members can be an indicator that you’re ramping up to meet increased demand or growing services and that your company is perceived as a desirable place to work.
8. Retention and engagement.
Measure the average length of time team members stay on board with your business. Retained team members are usually a good indicator of employee satisfaction, a great culture, and successful leadership.
9. Employee growth and development.
One sign of business growth can be found in a measure of your employees’ growth, which is now a well-known factor in employee engagement. If your team members are gaining desirable skills, that development along with their high engagement level can tremendously benefit the growth of your business.
One sure measure of growth is reflected in your business’s bottom line. If work is plentiful, you should ideally see a reflection of that in your profits.
One way to gauge your growth is in terms of sustainability. For example, your efforts in strategic diversification of products, services, or geographical areas served can help you avoid localized impacts. You may also have identified opportunities for growth work or add-on services that will help further solidify your income.
12. Online reach and engagement.
Reviewing your website analytics can give you a picture of your customer reach and engagement over time and relative to certain marketing campaigns. Using trackable links is another great way to see ongoing performance of marketing efforts. If you manage social media pages, you can measure followers, post engagements, and shares. (Here’s an article with great ideas for engaging your social media followers.)
13. New partnerships.
Partnerships are a great measure of business growth because together you are working to provide more or better services to clients or to better streamline the services you provide by cross-referring customers. Tracking the number of business partnerships you have this year over last year could be a good measure of growth.
New investors, funders, active board members, and increased employee giving or board-member giving are great ways to measure others’ confidence in your company or cause and to track growth in that confidence level over time.
15. Expanded services.
Reflect on the number of ways you successfully expanded products, programs, or services in the past year(s) to meet customer needs.
16. Focus and efficiency.
You’re experiencing a kind of growth when you’re seeing better productivity and efficiency along with a more streamlined focus—where there is decreased effort in combination with increased output.
17. Reduced costs.
If you are proactively identifying ways to reduce overhead costs or leaks from ineffective practices, that’s a measure of growth. Effective planning can also help reduce costs, and your strategic planning activities are another aspect of your business you can capture and measure over time.
18. Customer satisfaction and issues resolution.
It directly impacts your bottom line, so you’ll want to ensure systems are in place to measure customer satisfaction and seek feedback often, resolving any issues quickly. Issues resolution is another activity you can track and measure over time to look for indications of growth and improvement in that area.
19. Increased demand.
An increase in demand for your products or services may be a positive indicator that you’re meeting customer needs well and that you have effective marketing efforts in place. Taking steps to understand where the new demand is coming from can help you with future performance.
20. Charitable giving.
A positive, meaningful way to measure your business growth is in how much you are able to give back to the community through charitable acts of giving or volunteering by you and your team.
If you’re looking for ways to take your business to the next level, we have a Powerhouse resource devoted entirely to helping you achieve that. To check out all of our “20 Tips” resources, check out our Powerhouse Resources page and follow us on Facebook.