By Emily Suess
Next time you find yourself asking whether or not your small business is successful, don’t focus solely on the bottom line. It only tells part of the story. There are other ways to qualitatively and quantitatively measure your achievements. Start by asking yourself five simple questions.
1. Do I enjoy my work?
If you’re happy—success!
If you dread going into work every day, odds are that your business will suffer. Your negativity will spread to your employees and then to your customers, dragging your business down with it.
If you aren’t enjoying being a small business owner as much as you’d like, set aside some time to figure out why. Identify the sources of your anxiety or displeasure, and then make a plan to change them.
For example, if accounting and bookkeeping tasks are turning you into a grump, let go of those responsibilities. Maybe you could work with a CPA or hire a part-time bookkeeper. The money you spend on hiring a talented number cruncher would be well worth it when your passion for the business returns.
2. Do I have more customers than when I started?
Think about where you were when you first started your business. Did you only have a few customers? Do you have more now than you did on day one?
If your client base is growing at all—even if it’s just a couple of new customers a year—it’s a sign that you’re doing something right. Little successes add up and help you identify what’s working when it comes to managing your business.
3. Do I have loyal customers?
It’s good to get new customers, but it’s even better to keep the old ones. Loyal customers are vital to a successful business. Their candid feedback can help you identify strengths and weaknesses.
4. Are my employees happy?
If, on the whole, your employees like what they do and come to work with a positive attitude, count your small business as a huge success. For employees, job satisfaction is an elusive (and often fleeting!) thing.
Happy employees reveal more about your business than you might know. They are evidence that your small business is providing people with a sense of purpose, financial security, and a safe place to grow and be challenged professionally.
5. Am I improving my community?
Finally, successful small businesses improve their communities in a number of ways—by providing jobs for their neighbors, by offering essential products and services, and by increasing the aesthetic and vitality of the neighborhoods where they locate.
There are plenty of ways your small business could become a more successful member of your community, whether it’s by teaming up with local non-profits and charities or by donating a share of profits with the local food bank.
You won’t be able to ignore that profit and loss statement forever, of course. But it’s important to remember that the success of your business is measured in a number of ways, and not all of them come with dollar signs attached.