Business Progress

Here is a question for you. How do you know you are making business progress?

Just What is Progress?

In the political world we often here the terms conservative, liberal and progressive tossed around freely. How often do we stop to think just what those terms mean? But this article is not about politics, but rather focuses on the word progress as used in business progress.

How So

Perhaps you’ve been asked or have asked how a project was coming along. The answer might take several forms, including, “Almost done”, ”I’m not sure”, “I could use some help”, “I need some more information”, or “Great, I’m making great progress”. Now here is the question behind those answers. “What constitutes progress?”

A Definition

When looking on dictionary.com some of the definitions were “a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage”, “advancement in general”, and “forward or onward movement” along with others. Okay, let’s accept that for now. Thinking carefully about those definitions, the idea of movement toward a goal makes sense. A goal was established and we can measure how much we have advanced toward that goal if the starting point is known. Without a known starting point how can we measure whether we are really moving closer to the goal? The other two definitions are somewhat general. For example, what constitutes “advancement in general” or “forward or onward movement”? Without a starting point and an end point in mind, how do you know if you’ve advanced or moved forward? This may sound picky, but when we are measuring progress, we must have some way of measuring and that requires that we know from where we are starting.

An Example

Let’s say we establish a goal to grow sales 20% over the year. At the end of the year we see that sales for the year were $6 million. Did we achieve our goal? Well, unless we know what sales were for the previous year we have no idea. While $6 million in sales might seem great it may not even come close to representing a 20% growth or it might well exceed 20%. But, the point is you can’t measure business progress without knowing where you started and where you are headed.

sales growth chart

There are other areas where we speak of progress that are not so clear and perhaps matter even more. For example, imagine you establish a goal to improve your business relationships. That’s awful general. How will you know you have made progress?

The point of all this is to encourage us all to think about how we use terms like business progress and to be definitive in how we use them.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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