As your consulting business grows and begins celebrating anniversaries, you'll wonder whether your business is a success or not. There are many ways to measure success, so the answer is not an easy one. Some people suggest that success is a destination, while others see it as a journey. Every day can be a success.
How do you measure consulting success? Are you a success if you have the largest service agency within a twenty-five-mile radius? Do you want to be named the local businessperson of the year? Is success achieving a specific annual salary or taking in a partner? Many successful consultants measure their achievements in terms of personal, client, employee, and community profits and satisfaction.
Certainly, one of the major reasons for starting a consulting business is personal profit. You want to make a living at a rewarding job and, hopefully, build equity and goodwill that you can someday trade in for cash.
Your small business's success can be measured, in part, by personal profits. You want a salary that will fund the other parts of your life: food, shelter, fun. First, it must fund your business: research tools, expertise, overhead, taxes. You'd also like to build the assets of your business — furniture, fixtures, goodwill, cash in reserve — toward someday passing the business along to a relative or selling it. Whatever these personal goals are, moving toward them is an indication of success. Your progress is a measurement of success. That doesn't mean financial setbacks or even losses are failures; it just means it will take some more management skills to produce success. Profits will return.
For your clients, success means finding what they want. They benefit from the successful operation of your consulting business. For some consultants, serving clients is the most important measure of success. They believe that service to others is the greatest profit. They add to the value of others' lives by serving their needs for solutions.
Client profits are more difficult to quantify than financial profits. However, they are still measurable. Because the opinions of clients are important to verify this success, the owner must be in constant touch with them, asking how the business benefits individual clients. The results can be quantified by looking at sales levels. If one in two clients express their appreciation for your business and it serves ten clients a day, at least five clients clearly benefit from what you do. That is client success.
It is increasingly difficult to find a job that is both satisfying and pays a living wage. Many consultants take pride in what they can offer their employees. With capital and smart management, consultants can hire the best employees in the area, ones who recognize the rewards of offering genuine service to others. Whether you hire employees now or are building your business to hire some later, you can measure success by how you improve the lives of current and future employees.
Consulting services with key employees should consider life insurance payable to the firm on the death or disability of these people. How much life insurance? It should be an amount sufficient to offset financial losses during the readjustment period, to retain good credit standing, and to assure clients and suppliers that the company will continue as usual.
Your community benefits from your decision to start and run a successful consulting business. In addition to offering clients a trusted place to find solutions and employees a superior place to work, your business does other things for the community. It pays taxes. It upgrades the professional community. It makes donations to local charities. It enhances local pride.
You should take pride in the services you provide to your community. Whether your business is in a downtown area, a professional building, or a large shopping mall, your community benefits from your efforts — as do you, your clients, and employees. These are very good indications of success.