Be realistic when you set your measure of success 3

All of us plan for success in our businesses. That IS the goal after all. To be successful. But how exactly do you determine IF you have succeeded? Regardless if you are a start up or an established business, you need to establish, right up front, during your business planning process, what success will look like, and how you will measure it.

I was bemused, recently, over the various ways we measure success in our society.

We were watching a movie, Martian Child, with John Cusack and Bobby Coleman. Cusak’s character was trying to teach his adopted son to hit a baseball. As he explained “If you hit 3 out of 10 you’re a star. If you do just a little better, you’re a superstar!” That theme recurs in the film.

It was heartening in the film’s context. If we apply it to our daily lives, the little bit of wisdom can be freeing and encouraging. It gives us lots of room to try, to experiment, (and yes, to fail and try again), to learn, and to grow. We don’t have to be perfect the first time, or every time. 3 out of 10 and you can be a star. Heady stuff.

But that idea contrasts with so much else we hear.

“Nobody wants to be a 0, but everybody wants to be a 1, and there’s so little room in between.”
– Laurie Anderson, songwriter/singer.

In school if you were to get only 3 of 10, you’d not only get an F, but never get into college. Today you need to get all those advanced placement credits to get a 5.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. (And what kind of math does that teach, eh?)

And of course, if you’re a figure skating or ice dancing Olympian, you strive to be a 10. (And who can remember that very forgettable movie by the same number?)

We spend our lives searching for and nurturing love….unless you play tennis, in which case “love” is the dreaded lowest score.

And this relates to business how? By being realistic in your measure for success. Write your business plan, set your goals, establish your timelines and milestones.

Then review how you’ve done, run a plan vs. actual analysis. And adjust your plan as necessary, making decisions using real data.

If you converted 100% of your marketing leads into sales you’d be doing fantastically well. If you set your goal and measure of success as converting 100% of your leads, however, you’ll be both deluding yourself, and be very, very disappointed.

Be honest and set realistic goals for yourself. If you converted 3 out of 10 marketing leads you would be a star, and quite likely have a very successful business.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

Click here to join the conversation (3 Comments)
RATE THIS ARTICLE 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars

How to make faster, more informed business decisions

LivePlan: Online Business Planning Software

Your business is up and running, and now you’re laser-focused on growth. And you’re smart: you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the financial health of your business. But, you don’t have time to run reports or analyze endless spreadsheets.

What if you had an easy-to-use financial dashboard that gave you a visual overview of all your key business numbers? What if you could set up budgets and sales forecasts without sacrificing critical time away from your business?

This is where a powerful, yet easy to configure business dashboard comes into play. Click to learn more about how a business dashboard can help you grow faster and make smarter, more informed decisions.

Click to continue