I have recently completed an impact assessment of Creators for Good, and I learned so much in the process!
Today I want to share with you one of the top learning, which could shed some light on your own success potential.
I’ll also share with you a new tool so you can do your Impact Map (no matter what stage you are at now, coz I think if I had done it earlier it would have changed many things for me and my business’ impact!
#1. Why measure the real impact of your enterprise?
First, it can’t be just about sustaining itself financially (that’s the metric traditional, double bottom line businesses look at).
It certainly is about the impact it’s creating: the lives it changes, how it contributes to shift the society for the better… but how do you measure that?!
It actually IS super important to measure one’s impact – otherwise how can you know if “it’s working”?!
“If you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it”
— Peter Drucker
When I started on my entrepreneurial journey, I though I would leave this question for later. I though, Impact Measurement is a task I’ll add to my to-do once I actually start having a significant impact… and I later realised it actually works the other way around!
The more you get clear on the type of impact you want to create, the easier it is to find your focus and move forward in that direction !
I believe it is a topic that is not discussed enough in the Social Entrepreneurship world (or when it is, it stays on the theory level and doesn’t really sound useful or appealing to small business owners like you and me).
One thing that made a big difference for me, is to discover the concept of “Theory of Change”.
Not only it can help you redefine the mission of your enterprise, it can also and most importantly help with clarifying what you should REALLY focus on.
>> Focus is what helps you spend your precious time on the most important activities (the ones that actually drive you forward!). And because, as an entrepreneur, time is money, the Theory of Change is GOLD!
Here is what mine looks like:
Before outlining my theory of change…
I was only measuring the individual satisfaction of my clients. I had never thought of a way to measure my actual impact, and so I was only looking short term.
The truth is, I had a 100% satisfaction rate (which sound amazing – and is a great ego-booster – but did not help with pointing out what could be improved ;) )
I did not realize, but I was in fact measuring the “output” of my programs, not it’s actual impact !
Once I defined my theory of change, I realised that…
I could not just look at people’s satisfaction or happiness… but the tangible results my services where having on their entrepreneurial journey + not only during their program, but also after!
I measured my “true” impact over the summer and here is what I found:
1 year after the completion of their program, my clients entrepreneurial/professional situation is the following:
- 82% are still running their business (wouhou ! Most people give up in their first year, so that’s a BIG win !)
- 10% are still entrepreneur, but work on a different business then the one we’ve worked on together (some pivoted, other joined forces with one or more co-founders)
- 8% are back at being full time employees (although they might be happy about that, I count it as a failure for Creators for Good’s long term impact!)
It took some time to find the best KPI to measure my impact, but it really worth it ! I am now so much clearer on the actual mission of Creators for Good…
The biggest learning for me was: to look deeper into the profile of those who really succeeded vs. those who gave up and went back for corporate.
I would never have found it if I did not measure my impact properly!
It has completely shifted the type of people I accept in my programs, as well as some of the tools I develop for them. A G.A.M.E. C.H.A.N.G.E.R. !!
#2. What I learnt about my “ideal” client while measuring my impact!
For the first time in 3 years, I took a close look at the results my clients were having AFTER they completed my programs.
And I realized, all those who managed to sustain their business over 1 year after having completed their program had 1 thing in common.
Can you guess what it is?
- The type of business model (service vs. product)?
- The legal environment (social entrepreneurship friendly)?
- Their access to enough resources?
- A rich husband (or wife!) to support them as they build momentum?
- The size of their team / having a co-founder?
- The beauty of their website ?
- Entrepreneurship “genes” in the blood line of their family?
none of the above!
In fact, the one thing that all my successful clients have in common is the fact that they work full time on their business as their nb1 source of income (or part time with a real deadline and the clear ambition to go full time).
Beyond having much more time than part time/full time employees, I believe that this common trait shows that the most committed people, those who truly put all the chances on their side without thinking about back-up plans are the ones that succeed most.
Again, they might have a difficult environment, a not-so-perfect website, a difficult market… non of that matter compared to their personal commitment and investment.
What’s THE lesson for you?
I am not saying you should quit your job tomorrow ;)
OR that if you do you’ll be guaranteed to succeed!
BUT , even if you need a part time job for a while, just make sure this doesn’t distract you from being fully committed to your business.
As one of my mentor, Carrie Green says: “Success doesn’t happen by accident”
You cannot just “give it a try” or cross your fingers and “see if it works”. It up to YOU to actually make it work !
Feel free to comment about your thoughts and feelings about this ;)
#3. It’s your turn: how to measure the impact of your activity (in less than 2 hours)
>> One of the best way to make sure your enterprise will be a success, it to provide amazing results for your clients.
When you do your best to provide astonishing value through your solution (product or service) AND when that creates tangible, impactful results for your clients, then you know that you are onto something and that you should not give up.
And as the proverb goes, ‘what you focus on grows’, and so taking the time to focus on your impact and actually finding the right KPIs to measure will go a long way in ensuring your initiative’s sustainability (both financially and impact-wise!).
A great way to start is by mapping your impact.
I love the “Theory of Change” way of mapping one’s impact so much, that I have created a worksheet for your to complete and draft yours:
Click on the picture to sign up & receive your free tool by email ;)
I hope you will find it useful ;)
Who knows, it might even shift how you deliver your impact, and/or who you decide to deliver it to!
I am curious to know what you uncover regarding what makes YOUR clients most successful in the cause you’re tackling! Tell me in the comments below ;)
Solène is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Creators for Good.
She developed a methodology that allows Global Citizen to start and grow their own impactful businesses from anywhere in the world – and with no need for investors or government support.