How do you know when your company has “made it”? What are the signs that your startup has officially become viable? Or your viable startup has become a mature company? Or your mature company has become the business you always dreamed it could be?
You can check metrics, of course. Revenue and profit curves, contract renewals, employee retention and other hard data will quickly reveal if a business is a success by traditional standards.
But you can also evaluate based on more-abstract definitions of success. For example, I’m a passionate entrepreneur who’s eager to have an impact on the future, and I’m also a people person who appreciates others who share that drive. If my company is giving those people a place to learn, grow and excel at what they do, then it’s a success as far as I’m concerned.
What’s really fun, though, is to look at how others view your company and see what that tells you. Here are seven signs of success I’ve come up with based on our experience at Umbel.
1. People use your company name as a verb.
How many times a day do you say you’re going to Google something? While I can’t claim success at the level of Google’s, I have to say that we were pretty thrilled when two major clients told us they never make decisions without first “Umbel-ing” their customer data. Some may fear that having your name used as a verb can lead to the threat of genericization, but honestly, that’s a problem I wouldn’t mind having.
2. As CEO, you’re not invited to meetings.
When you start to notice your team isn’t demanding your attendance at important meetings anymore, that’s a sure sign your company has gotten its wings and taken off. Your people are empowered, confident and more than capable of carrying on and innovating as a team — whether you’re in the room or not. It’s also confirmation that you’re not micromanaging the business to death.
3. You get asked to write a book (or something).
Emerging markets are always looking for thought leaders. If your company is making an impact in an emerging environment, don’t be surprised if someone asks you to share what you know in a book. (And here’s some great advice if it happens to you.) When we were approached to write a book on our company’s expertise around data, I was honored. We’ve also been asked to help author some very interesting legislation. Now, we just need to find time to execute on those opportunities — but that’s another topic.
4. Your client wants to work for you.
The only thing better than having great clients who are smart and fun to work with is having them interested in working at your company. It’s a huge compliment when someone sees what you’re doing as innovative and important enough that they want to be a part of it in a much more direct and immediate way.
5. A client or partner wants to buy your company.
I always thought that someone wanting to work for Umbel was the highest compliment possible — until we had clients and partners who were interested in buying the business. It can happen when you have a client who’s a big player in their industry and who sees owning your technology or other solution as a path to a competitive edge. It can also happen when you’re teaming with a player in your own space who sees it as a means of strengthening their market position. Whatever the circumstances, it’s a great feeling to know someone thinks highly enough of your business to make an offer.
6. You’re ticking off other employers.
I’m sure the last thing you want to do is anger other CEOs with your hiring. But if your growing business needs to attract top people, there’s inevitably going to be some overlap in the talent pool. When our company received a cease-and-desist order from another employer, that told me we’d become significant enough in our space for someone to consider us a threat. (This works the other way, too, by the way: You know you’ve made it when you find out other companies are trying to hire employees away from you.)
7. You become the “X for Y.”
Nathan Tone tweeted it best: “e.g. It’s like Netflix for pets.” When your company is used as the standard to which another company aspires, that is just plain awesome. We haven’t achieved this one yet at Umbel, but you can bet it’ll make my day when we do.
What are some signs of success for your business? Whether you set out to achieve them intentionally or they happen along the way, good luck!
This article was written by H.O. Maycotte from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.