Have you ever swung at a ball and connected with it so cleanly that you knew, without even having to look, that it was going to land in that sweet spot between second base and center field? That moment just felt right, and you felt safe in the knowledge that you would at least make it to second base, third if you pushed yourself.
Without explicitly processing all the factors, you just knew that your swing was clean, your calculations for angle, trajectory and distance correct and that, unless the center fielder was freakishly fast, there was no way you couldn’t round second.
Unfortunately, matters aren’t so clear cut in business.
When you first develop your business plan, it’s impossible to know whether your business will be a booming success or a complete flop. Even if you think you have a grand slam idea, there’s no telling how the market will react to your product or service, your advertising or your competition. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any signs that will tell you if you have a golden egg on your hands. Read on for seven signs your startup is headed in the right direction. If one or more apply to you, you may have hit the sweet spot.
1. Consumers Come to You
First, let’s be clear about something: You should never forego advertising in hopes that word-of-mouth will work out for you. That said, one of the hallmark signs of a standout business is the lack of a need for advertising. When customers or clients reach out to you for business, saying that they heard from a friend of a friend that you do great work, you may have found your calling.
2. You Have a Great Team That Works Well Together
Finding people who share your vision, and the drive to achieve that vision, is a lot more difficult that most people think. Every business has employees, but only the truly successful ones have teams of people that feed off of one another’s energy, share in each other’s victories and are honest about defeats. If you have a team of people that are excited to be there day in and day out, that you can turn to for ideas and advice and that are always asking what more they can be doing to help out, you’re doing something right.
3. You Fire Customers
Though you shouldn’t make it a habit of letting go of customers (after all, that can result in negative word-of-mouth), it’s a good sign if you can fire those that just aren’t making you money. If you get to the point where you’re unable to juggle all the accounts you have, it may be time to assess which of those contribute to your bottom line and which simply eat up your resources. Though you may hesitate to release customers to your competitors, it may be necessary to achieve that next level of growth.
4. You Form Partnerships
As successful businesspeople such as Matthew Ocko know, successful business owners never work alone. If, because of the outstanding quality of your products or services, other businesses come to you in hopes of partnering with you on future endeavors, you’ve hit gold. Likewise, if you feel comfortable enough reaching out to other businesses or community members in the hopes of partnering with them, it says a lot about your confidence in your business and your character.
5. You’ve Made Mistakes … And Recovered From Them
There’s not a success on this planet that hasn’t made a mistake or two during the course of entrepreneurship. Some mistakes are smaller than others, such as forgetting to call a client back, while others are catastrophic, such as investing all a business’s funds into a single endeavor. Regardless of the scope or nature of the mistake, when your business can bounce back from a mistake, learn from it and use the newfound knowledge to grow stronger than before, you’ve achieved a level of resilience comparable to that of big-name brands.
6. The Media Takes Notice
Whether a small, local publication comes to you and asks to do a writeup on your business or a major magazine takes notice of your work, consider it a huge success. Media attention says that people are talking about your business in a good way as well as serves to garner more attention.
7. You Scare the Competition
When consumers begin to turn to you instead their old providers, you’re on your way to success. Customers switch companies for two main reasons: The old company has grown complacent and has let its quality, customer service or both slip, or they’ve heard that the new company does things better. Regardless of the reason, when consumers choose you over the competition, it’s your chance to make loyal customers out of them and to solidify your place in the market.
If you can relate to one or more of these seven signs of success, you have something good going. Keep doing what you’re doing, and you will not only reach your full potential but surpass it.