In business, we all use Key Performance Indicators to measure values and gauge outcomes. But who sets the KPIs and decides which metrics are the most important? As entrepreneurs, how do we weigh and quantify success?
Understanding my own drivers became more important as my career progressed. When running a business, KPIs become your best friends; useful tools for maximizing efficiencies and growing revenue when you’re constantly bombarded with operational, customer, and team challenges. But after co-founding two companies that experienced high growth trajectories, how do you continue to evaluate your own performance?
In hindsight, the KPIs that mattered most to me were not found on any spreadsheets or dashboards. I found them at the bottom of an old cardboard box.
It’s been just over a year since my husband and I exited the company we co-founded in 2012. A lot has changed in that year, during which I enjoyed spending time reconnecting with my family and putting thoughts of business temporarily aside.
When I received an email asking me to collect ten boxes I’d stored at our old warehouse, I’d already distanced myself from the person I was when I’d packed them up.
Taking a Marie Kondo approach, I opened the boxes with the mantra to “throw it out unless it sparks joy.” Very little did. I didn’t need the old nicknacks, awards, office decorations, or memories of what felt like someone else’s life. Digging through piles of junk became a process of reflecting on the past rather than looking forward. Then one sheet of paper moved me to tears.
I remember the day my cousin introduced me to entrepreneur and TV personality Marcus Lemonis. After I told him about my business, he asked, “What are your receivables like? And how about your gross margins?”
I gave him a blank stare and he quickly realized I had no idea what he was talking about so he kindly decided to explain. “You see, receivables are the payments you’re waiting on.”
Oh! Of course, I knew that! I just didn’t know the jargon.
Ashamed of not knowing such simple terms, I went home and ordered several business 101 books. I read everything I could find, researching and repeating buzzwords and key phrases over and over like I was studying for a spelling bee. I dreamed in gross margins, revenues, and COGS.
As I learned more, I began to surround myself with like-minded entrepreneurs. Our discussions revolved around revenues, profits, and numbers. From similarly small startup owners, my network grew to encompass the heads of hundred million dollar companies, and then billion dollar companies. Compared to them, my homecare business seemed small fry. There was no way it could grow on the same scale, and since revenue, fundraising rounds, and IPOs were all anyone cared to talk about, I began to look for an opportunity to make a larger impact.
I’d lost sight of where I started and what I’d achieved, and couldn’t understand the excitement of friends who saw my homecare company grow from $1.2M in the first year to $2.5M sales in the second.
Doubling my revenue, winning Rookie of the Year, and doing it all with a brand I’d developed, loved, and believed in, stopped mattering.
Instead, I sold the company and joined forces with my husband to focus on his e-commerce business.
If numbers were what counted, that company had the potential to grow and grow. And grow it did, to $20M+ revenue with four international locations and over 150 employees. Yet, instead of feeling inspired and empowered by our success, I began to lose heart.
The KPIs that had driven us, and by which we measured our impact, no longer felt meaningful. We were burned out, exhausted, and disillusioned. Something important was missing.
As I sat in a dusty warehouse, clutching the crumpled paper I’d pulled from the bottom of a long-forgotten box, I realized what I’d lost.
The paper was the affirmation I started every day with before visiting patients for my home health company, back in the days when I would wake each morning and believe wholeheartedly that I made a positive impact on other people.
My KPIs were the number of patients I could help. Growth and success weren’t measured with spreadsheets, but in the lives we improved. My only goals were to provide excellent care to my clients and ensure my 600+ staff had stable and sustainable incomes.
In many ways, growing my home health company had been more demanding than anything I’d done since — I could drive 300 miles in a day, and work until 11 PM each night, but I always came home feeling grateful and fulfilled. I’d sit for hours helping patients fill out Aid and Attendance applications, send documents on their behalf to the Veteran Affairs Department, gain the trust of families, and help them make difficult transitions to hospice care, assisted living or long-term care facilities.
As I looked at my affirmations, rereading the familiar words for the first time in years, I realized what I’d overlooked so many times when friends asked me how I’d managed to create such an amazing company and grow it so successfully: I was living my life’s purpose. When I fixated on numbers, I’d lost sight of what was really important.
My disillusionment with our e-commerce success suddenly made sense. Somewhere along the course of my journey as an entrepreneur, I’d created a framework of measuring success by dollar signs and revenue growth. I’d neglected my passions and stopped trying to create a positive impact in people’s lives, and the business we’d grown over the past five years had started to have a negative impact on my life as a result.
Today I’m on a new life path, beginning a new chapter with a new business. I vow to live my life with impact and purpose each day. To do impactful work, always. To touch the lives around me in whatever way possible. I refuse to allow perceived metrics to put a value on my work. Impact has no measure.
This paper that I carried with me every day is what I hope to embody, always:
I ask that everything needing to be known is here today.
I intend I am guided, guarded, connected, and protected at all times.
I intend all of my words are clear, precise, uplifting, helpful, and fun.
And I intend all of my words, thoughts, and deeds serve the highest and best good of the Universe, Mother Earth, Myself, and Everyone Everything, Everywhere.
So be it and so it is.
My intention for today is:
I intend I am only attracting invisible energies to me who stand for the highest good.
With my rediscovered philosophy in mind and my realignment with the universe, I’m ready for a new adventure!
Qyral is a culmination of my life experiences and passions; it combines my love for beauty and the arts, my background in Gerontology and Biochemistry, and an incessant determination to always make a positive impact. I’m revolutionizing the skincare and nutraceutical industry with my commitment to efficacious formulations and routines, along with a commitment to empower those around me.
Qyral embodies my renewed ethos and marks a fresh step on the journey toward my primary KPI — to Keep Pursuing Impact.
If you’re excited about the direction I’m taking, join me at Qyral.com and have your impact on this journey.
Thanks for reading and email me with any feedback — firstname.lastname@example.org