Fundamental Business Success Indicators Every CEO Must Watch

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Fundamental Business Success Indicators Every CEO Must Watch

As a CEO you need to have a vision in place for your organization. Using business success indicators will help you stay on track.

CEOs get judged on metrics and the success of their organizations. So, CEOs that don’t have a clear sense of their business success indicators are CEOs that are going to find themselves in trouble before too long.

In fact, a good business plan is one of the first things you should establish as a CEO, because it’s not just you who should have a direction – everyone in your organization should be running towards the same goals. In order to identify business success, indicators fall into four main categories: profits, growth, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction.


Profits is the most expected indicator of business success. Your profits and growth depend on each other, but they aren’t always going to be complementary. You really have to be able to look into the future, and determine how investments in talent, research and development or sales training are going to bring you a good ROI over the course of several months or even years.

You want to keep your eye on a steady flow of profits. What percentage you can expect is going to depend on your specific industry, but your success as a CEO is going to be tied to how much money your business makes, and how much it spends to make that money.


Growth is related to profits as a business success indicator, but the two are not always aligned with one another. In fact, growth can look like a loss on your P&L sheet if you don’t allow enough time for your investments to mature. Indicators of growth could include new hires, new acquisitions, a marketing expansion into new sales territory, or a large technology purchase.

You’ll need to decide what kind of growth qualifies work best for you as an indicator of business success.  

Employee satisfaction

Someone who is strong and secure in their role as CEO is going to look at employee satisfaction as an important business success indicator. What is your turnover rate? Employees who are satisfied with their careers are more likely to stay with a company longer, which reduces your expenses in hiring and training new employees.

The impact of a happy team can be tough to quantify in numbers, but job satisfaction and performance tend to mirror each other. So when you multiply that by dozens or even hundreds of employees, the ROI for a good workplace environment can pay off enormously.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a major checkpoint in your list of business success indicators. It is directly tied to your profits and your ability for growth. Customer satisfaction is also connected to employee satisfaction; most of us want to work in a business we can be proud of.  When you make your customers happy, that success feeds into the overall positive work environment.

All of these–profit, growth, employee and customer satisfaction–are essential to long-term growth and should be the centerpiece of your planning for the future of your organization.

Use your metrics and business success indicators to solidify a business vision

Use your metrics and business success indicators to solidify a business visionWhen you’re looking at your list of metrics, very often they are driven by what’s traditional within your organization or different types that are used in your particular industry. When you’re thinking about your organization, make sure your business success indicators are tied not only to your P&L, but also your operating plan – your strategic ideas of where you want to take your company in 18 months, 24 months, and 36 months from now.

Conceiving a five year plan may be hard for small to mid-sized businesses, but if you don’t have a sense of what you’re trying to achieve in a 12 to 18 month time period, you’re always going to be chasing your tail. So when you look at your business success indicators, make sure that you’re viewing qualities that not only show you the financial health of your organization, but also sets you up for success in the long term.

You know what you’re doing, but wouldn’t it be nice to have help? Let’s get your business organized and tackle your future ROI together. Schedule a FREE no-obligation call with me.

Mari Anne Snow
Mari Anne Snow
Mari Anne Snow is a highly-skilled change management professional with over 20 years experience utilizing technology to support non-disruptive change. A dynamic strategic planning speaker and thought-provoking writer, she is CEO and co-founder of SophiaThink and SophiaThink’s Blog. Her firm teaches clients the best ways to use the latest technologies to maximize team performance and business collaboration. Mari Anne is also an adjunct professor at Bentley University and Suffolk University; co-host of Positive Business radio with Patricia Raskin (WPRV AM790) and an advisor to several start-ups.
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