Does a Lack of Growth Make Your Business A Failure?

Posted on February 8, 2017

I had dinner this past week with two friends who are also entrepreneurs in different industries and run their own businesses. Over food, I found myself sharing the biggest lessons I’d learned from 2016. I wanted to share that same lesson here as I wish someone else had told me. As a business owner, not every year is going to be an “up” year. In 2016, Intern Queen grew 10% which is wonderful but every other year, we’ve grown over 30%. The reason why we didn’t grow in 2016? Who knows? I could blame it on employee turnover, on my wedding and just being slightly distracted, specific clients leaving, we could come up with reasons for days. At certain points in the year, I actually thought we were going to make less money than we had in previous years. At the beginning of 2016, I put a major goal in place, to double the business (the same goal that I have for this year). About halfway through the year, I saw that we weren’t going to reach that goal and I felt like a failure – at least for a moment. I spoke to a mentor who works for a large company and he told me they rarely hit the goal but as long as they grow a little each year, they see that as a success. It was good to hear that it wasn’t just my business, not hitting goal.

As a business owner with no investors to provide goals or make sure we hit certain revenue benchmarks, I’m really the one calling the shots and defining what is a success and what is not a success. I learned in 2016 that every year isn’t going to be an “up” year and that not hitting goal or not growing each year doesn’t mean I’ve failed, it just means it wasn’t our year. We can still run a successful business without growing from year to year – that part is up to us. We define success and we hold ourselves accountable. I’m grateful to learn that lesson because we all put too much pressure on ourselves to succeed and we’re never satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. I think I learned more in 2016 from NOT hitting goal than I would have if we actually HIT the goal. This year, although I am pushing for success, I’m prepared for both results – hitting goal and not hitting goal. And I’m confident that if we don’t hit goal – it’s okay. I’ve learned that us not hitting the goal doesn’t mean we’ve failed or we’re a failure – it just means we need to try different strategies to get to a different result. I’ll let you know how my “do over” year works out.