Year-end is just around the corner for those of us that close out the year on September 30th. That means it’s time to assess our accomplishments and reward employees for their work. Assessing the business for me is not just about growing the top line, although that is critically important. But there are other measures we need to consider.
New Products and Services
It is also about whether the organization has moved the needle on new products and services. When you start to change the mix or add to your offering it may take a while for you to realize the benefits. That’s why the numbers may not reflect how far you have come. This year we concentrated on really expanding creatively and doing some very different types of projects. As result, our team turned out some great work, expanded our demo reel and also had a lot of fun.
Growing the Client Base
Another measure of success is the attraction of new clients. While we love to work with existing clients it is important to consistently expand the base. Too often small businesses get comfortable and don’t go out looking for new opportunities. I have heard owners say, “I don’t have any more capacity so I don’t need to market the business.” Nothing could be more dangerous than relying on existing clients. They might experience tough times and need to cut back. There may be personnel changes and new contacts bring in their favorite suppliers, so you get left out. We set a target number each year of how many new customers, or a dollar value of new business that we want to secure.
For employees the measure of success is the size of the bonus. There are a number of different schools of thought about employee compensation. Some employers have pretty strict guidelines and formulas about how to figure out employee bonuses. In fact, some do not bonus employees at all. They believe that the salary is the full compensation and, if needed, they may give a raise or cost of living increase for the next year. I take a bit of a different tact. I like to keep salaries reasonable and then reward employees for initiative with very nice bonuses. I look to see if they have learned a new program, suggested ways to improve a process or product or have really had a great attitude. I want to be sure to reinforce that a bonus is a measure of how successful they have been and their contribution to the organization.
For me as a business owner, one measure of success is my stress level. If we have hit all our targets, that’s great. It’s even better if the year has had relatively few crises and lots of positive forward movement. If employees feel good about the work, customers refer us to others and we have been able to give back to our community- that’s a good year!