No. 201

Ways Not to Measure Success

There are a lot of metrics in business, rather seductive ones that scream success from an external point of view: revenue, team size, number of clients. We live in an age where the hustle and excessively long work days are parts of the glamour of business: you’re simply so busy you don’t have time to eat or sleep or remember what it’s like to stop and just be — you have to keep going, climbing your metaphorical mountain of success so you can come out on top.

What have we done to ourselves?

The early phases of business have different measures of success than a scaled business has. And the reality is, if we’re not asking ourselves regularly what our own measures of success are we’ll find ourselves dissatisfied and burnt out, with a business that may look like a success to the rest of the world but feels like a failure to us.

So where do we start?

Profit over revenue. If you’re not keeping the money you make, does it really matter how much you make?

Team culture over team size. Bigger is not always better. Sometimes it’s more complex. Sometimes you end up with the wrong team members. But if you have a group that trusts each other and works well together, that’s gold.

Client fit over number of clients. How much easier would life be if you had the right clients, ones that fit your philosophy and culture? Would you really need tons of them, or would it be more fun to go deep with a smaller group than shallow with many? Think about that impact.

What’s really interesting to me now is what new metrics I can create for my business, like play and deep collaboration with clients, or the number of pro bono projects we can tackle in a year. Those are not all worked out perfectly yet, but we’re experimenting with what feels good.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.