Some years, you look at your business financials and feel all warm and fuzzy. You hit or exceeded your targets; you did better than the year before; and all in all, your P&L statement has some very pleasing numbers that compare well to last year’s.
Other years… don’t look as shiny.
And yet, that doesn’t mean your business hasn’t grown in important ways. And I don’t just mean “I learned an important life lesson” ways. I mean real business growth — just maybe not the kind that shows up in your financial statements, except perhaps in the explanatory footnotes.
If you’re having a year like this — a year that isn’t likely to wow the number-crunchers in your midst — then this post is for you.
I want to celebrate the kinds of growth your business does beyond the balance sheet.
1. Increased clarity.
You figured out what you’re actually best at. You fired some bad clients, cut a product line that wasn’t your best work, stopped trying to land customers that just weren’t that into you. You faced the truth and made some tough calls.
Now you’re positioned to make the most of your marketing and sales efforts, and more likely to turn a consistent profit. This is important growth, even if it temporarily appears as shrinkage.
2. Expanded offerings.
You dedicated time and energy to crafting and piloting a new offering. While it required an investment of resources, you’re wrapping up the beta phase and ready to launch.
This kind of growth increases your potential customer base, and can have positive results for your sales funnel as well as your profit margin. Good for you for investing in customer research and product-market fit; it’s critical to your long-term success.
3. Developing your team.
You took some courses, hired a coach, mentored your people. You invested in building skills, expertise, and leadership capacity on your team.
Again, this is likely to show up primarily as a cost to your business in the short term, but longer term it will benefit you in the form of greater effectiveness, and more skills you can leverage for your customers.
4. Healthier workplace.
You’ve been working your tail off for years, but this year you slowed down. You took some time off, started being more consistent about your work hours, trusted the business to survive without you for a few days/weeks/months while you rested/got well/parented/cared for a loved one/got sober/traveled/took a sabbatical.
This is good for your business. Your business needs to be able to function without you. It’s an important maturation milestone. And it’s so, so, so, so good for you.
5. Refining your systems and processes.
Perhaps the least sexy thing on this list, to most people, but I’m into this stuff. Maybe you finally got around to documenting your onboarding process for new hires or new clients. Or you figured out a better way to invoice customers. Maybe you found efficiencies, or a better way to make your products, or just a way sleeker email marketing platform that has made your life sooooo much easier. Perhaps you took the time to connect all the various software you use, reducing error margins and making better use of the data you capture.
This is important growth. And it will pay off in the form of higher profits, more customer referrals, or straight-up happiness for you — all important growth metrics.
What have I missed? How has your business grown that might not be apparent (yet) to your bookkeeper? I’m all ears.
Credits: Lauren Bacon