Every business begins its life as a startup, but the goal is to someday evolve into a more mature phase. Entrepreneurs often form a new business with the expectation that, when this transition happens, they’ll know. But as many have learned, there is not just one defining moment in which a startup becomes an established venture. There are certain indicators, however, that prove your business has made it to the next step:
1. The numbers bear out
In a survey of some of the most successful businesses today, The Next Web’s Paul Malicki found that the top indicator of success was revenue growth. This growth likely won’t be immediate, as the results showed, and many professionals cited a natural transition process. That's because even the most successful businesses have ebbs and flows in income, as well as ongoing changes in expenses. Therefore, it can be difficult to see growth.
This is why analytics are extremely important. By keeping an eye on your company’s revenue each month, you’ll be able to identify trends over time. Even if the growth is gradual, you’ll feel encouraged when you see a persistent increase in income.
2. People seek you out
In the early days, you may spend a great deal of time pounding the pavement, trying to drum up interest in your product or service. Then, one day, you realize you’re no longer engaging in such grassroots efforts. Instead, people are contacting you with requests. This can include customers, clients, investors and business partners, who take the time to locate your contact information and get in touch.
Many entrepreneurs report that their major growth moment came when customers began sharing personal stories about their products. Regardless of the level of success at that point, a business owner has achieved his goal of making a difference in peoples' lives.
3. You can take a vacation
In the early days of building your business, you likely put in long hours, skipped family dinners and ignored holidays. Vacation can be a foreign concept in those early days, as you might expect that one week out of town will lead to your business falling apart. Even if entrepreneurs do manage to get away for a few days, they often spend the entire time tethered to their gadgets, responding to every email instead of enjoying time with their families.
Over time, however, a succesful founder builds a solid enough operation that he or she can take a week off without things falling apart. This usually means having a team in place that can attend to any issues without supervision, as well as instituting set processes that don’t require direct management.
4. You love what you do
If you’re making a living wage doing what you love for a living, consider that the most important win of all. There are many benefits to enjoying your work, including increased confidence and having more energy each day. This enthusiasm will help you power through any obstacles thrown your way on your path to the top.
If your employees share your passion, that’s an even bigger win. If you’ve created a culture that encourages innovation and accountability, your employees will be happier and your business will thrive. A truly inspiring or successful product can also be tremendously positive for team morale and motivation.
More important than any analytics is an entrepreneur’s overall career satisfaction. If your business continuously brings you happiness and allows you to do the work you love, you’ve won the biggest battle of all.