One of the biggest complaints I hear from business owners is this: they’re working really hard, they seem to have plenty of business coming in, but it feels like they’re on a hamster wheel, doing to same thing day in day out and not really getting anywhere.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s this: to feel satisfied and happy with our business (and our life), we need to have a sense of progress. In other words, we need to feel we are improving, growing or developing in some way. The problem is, most of us don’t have methods for measuring progress in any way except financially.
So what can you do to get a sense of how much you’ve grown beyond the bottom line of your balance sheet? Here are a few things that have worked for me over the years:
- Every once in a while when I’m feeling a bit flat, I go through my archives of client work and look at a project I did from say 10 years ago. I might review a marketing plan I wrote or a logo I developed. Unsurprisingly, it only takes a minute to realise how far I have come.
- When it comes to writing I keep my first book manuscript under lock and key (because it looks – and reads – like it was written by a drunkand blind chimpanzee). I pull it out, have a read periodically and shake my head in embarrassment. It certainly reminds me how far I’ve come with my writing.
- Over the course of each year I keep track of all of my successes for that year via a success board. It’s surprising how many of these things we forget! Not only does this method remind me of all the good stuff that’s happened in that particular year, because I’ve been doing it for ten years, I’m able to get a quick snapshot of an entire decade of progress and success!
- I love looking back at my old marketing materials, stationery and even screen shots from earlier websites. Nothing gives a sense of progress more than seeing what your old website looked like! At the time they were launched they looked so modern and cool, now they look like a bad haircut from the eighties.
- Last but not least, I take lots of photos. I have photos of my first business from 30 years ago. It’s a bit cringe-worthy seeing the terrible signwriting on the front of the business, the mayhem in the shop, the dodgy look all-round but it’s a massive reminder of how far I’ve come.
But what about the money side of things?
So long as you are doing the right things: really keeping an eye on your expenses, income and profitability, you will reach that stage where suddenly, you’ve paid all of your bills and there is money left in the bank at the end of the month.
Now this is a big moment! One to be savoured.
If you’re not there yet, go back and look at some of your old figures. I bet the amount you generated in those early days looks so small, yet you felt so busy.
Today you might be doing three, four, five times that amount and doing it relatively easily. This is progress.
Remember, to feel a sense of satisfaction in our business and in our life, we need to feel like we are making progress. Progress comes in many shapes and sizes, but the more methods you can put in place for measuring progress, the better you will feel about everything.