When you own and run a small business, it's not always clear whether you're doing the right thing or whether your business is on the right track. Because the owner is very close to his or her business, it can be hard to determine objectively how well your company is really doing.
If you're something of a perfectionist or high achiever, you might never think your company is being successful, and others might be blind to the imperfections of their companies. Looking for the signs which can determine the health of your business is something every small business owner needs to be able to do.
What Are the Signs of a Successful Business?
Successful small businesses do have discernible traits that set them apart from others. While every small business owner has his or her own ideas and barometers of success, there are a few common denominators that all thriving enterprises have.
The most obvious example are profits and sales figures, which are a pretty good indicator of how well your business is doing. However, the indicators that signal your small business is built to last are a bit more complicated. While financial figures are undeniably important, non-financial indicators are something you might not be paying as close attention to, such as:
1. Motivated Employees
If your employees are motivated, care about the business and pour themselves personally into their work, that is a very good sign that your business is thriving. Signs of motivated employees include: low turnover rates, content and productive employees that provide great customer service to you customers, and employees who feel sufficiently challenged but enjoy their work.
Employee happiness is simply one of the most important non-financial vital signs a small business should be monitoring. Conducting formal surveys is one way to measure employee morale, as well as encouraging and monitoring whether employees feel they are free to express criticism and their own opinions. If your employees feel their contributions make an impact at the company and in the world at large, they are much more likely to be content.
2. Happy Customers
Happy customers are just as important as happy employees, as satisfied, returning customers should be the goal of any business. If your business has a number of customers who like your service, trust your company, believes it cares about them and speak well of your business to other potential customers, those are all very good signs that your business is being successfully run.
How you gain new customers is also telling: can they find you easily, and were they referred to you by other satisfied customers? If you make a difference in your customer's world when you do business with them, you're on the right track.
3. Expert Credibility
If your business is seen as something of an expert source of advice for things relating to your industry, that is another good indicator of success. Do you frequently have customers or other businesses seeking you and/or your employees out for news and commentary on your industry?
If so, that's a sign that you have established a trusted reputation in your community. After all, small business owners who cement their status as leaders in their fields help ensure that their companies thrive for many years to come, as it gives your company an aura of respectability. Your expert status will also lead to greater profits and higher margins.
The fact of the matter is, successful small businesses are flexible and able to adjust to changing circumstances. If your organization or you personally have shown a willingness to embrace change, that is a major indicator of potential for even greater success. This doesn't just mean being flexible when dealing with the needs of customers and employees, but also in accepting and being constantly up to date with new technologies and techniques.
5. Your Attitude
A business owner's attitude is a critical vital sign for success because it sets the tone for the entire organization. You can't engage people, financiers and potential partners, as well as lead the organization, if you aren't passionate about it.
Setting up and running a small business takes a lot of passion and excitement, and if you aren't passionate and excited about your business, no one else will be either. This is why the most successful entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do.
6. A Healthy and Caring Work Environment
In order to have happy employees, mentioned earlier, you have to provide them with a healthy and caring work environment. Content, driven and happy employees are going to want to work hard and achieve fantastic results for your organization, but you then run the risk of your staff trying too hard for too long and burning out.
Business owners should take care to never be overly demanding of their employees. One way you can reduce the demands and stress of your employees is to offer telecommuting opportunities. Ensuring fair and transparent HR policies are in place to deal effectively with staff holidays, illness and compassionate leave is a must for all good companies in a modern business environment.
7. Focusing on the Future
Having a plan for the future, both in the short- and long-term, is a key trait of success-oriented small business owners, so it's important to have a well-thought-out plan of how you want your business run for years to come. These plans include seeking best-practice insights regarding management, pursuing business innovation and prospects, and motivating and retaining employees necessary for the continued growth and expansion of the business.
All good small business owners need to be aware of and monitor the success of their organizations. When determining the health and success of your business, factors other than financial ones should be considered, and your business should have some kind of established barometer for measuring success. Be sure these seven factors are included in your measurements.
About the author:
Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and a tech lover who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. You can find her Twitter @jillphlps