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How Do You Measure Personal & Business Success?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a senior executive I hold immense respect for. He has extensive experience working for IBM as both a Senior Marketing Executive and Cloud Tech leader.

In our conversation, he asked me ‘What is success to you in business? And how do you measure this success?’

I took a little time to think about it. But for some reason, I became confused the more I thought about it. As far as I was concerned, I was certain that I had asked myself this question and answered it a hundred times over. However, now that he asked me, I felt like I had a lot to say, and yet nothing all at once. So I remained quiet.

For the first time, I realised I lacked specificity in my business goals. When it comes to my personal goals, that’s a whole different story. I set them at the start of each year and I have them on my vision board. I can measure my success by hitting and exceeding these personal targets. So in that sense, I know I’m on the right track.


I have never really measured success according to my clients. I’ve just been happy to know that they come back to me periodically when they need work. Don’t get me wrong. A returning customer is always a good sign, but what if it isn’t enough?

Maybe, they’re only back because I’m familiar – and they really don’t want to bother looking for a new copywriter even though that person will provide greater value for their business. Or maybe it’s because I’m offering my services below the market value, thereby allowing impostor syndrome to undercut my value.

You get the idea.

All my personal goals are usually concrete and more specific – that is why I can measure them easily. Besides the paychecks, I haven’t really gathered other vital info that would help identify my true business success, and that could be holding me back.

For example:

  • Has the client experienced a certain % increase in email opens since I started helping them?
  • What is the % increase in sales from my work?
  • What is the % increase in conversions from current leads since I started? Etc.

Having access to such information is important, so that you know exactly how much value you are bringing to your client. Or if there are any areas that need improvement. (Granted, some clients may not provide sensitive business info due to NDAs. But whenever necessary, ask for it).

As a copywriter, I’m not here to make miracles for my clients. However, I am expected to produce results. Because that is simply what you pay people to do.

So if a client vaguely tells me they want to get more sales, it is my job to help them get more sales.

But if I also set a specific goal for my client on top of that (i.e. ‘I want to increase their revenue by 20% this month’), then my work now has better direction and focus.

Setting this goal will help me allocate the appropriate amount of time and resources to achieving this goal, and not the highest amount of time & resources. This difference will also be reflected in the quality of work I put out for my client, and is more likely to generate the best results for them.

So you see, being specific is very important, as it increases your efficiency. That makes all the difference when you want to provide value.

So when setting your goals, take advantage of NUMBERS, and use them whenever possible.

  • If you want to lose weight, ask how many kilos?
  • If you want to get new clients, ask how many clients?
  • If you want to run more this month, ask how many kms should I do each day?

And so on.

Why Numbers?
  • Numbers are specific. Which means they are an excellent way to measure the difference between where you started, and where you currently are.
  • They are a true indicator that you take your objectives very seriously.
  • Numerical results instill confidence in potential new clients, your peers, but most importantly – you.


Remember. Sometimes, your goals will not be met regardless of how much work you put in. You may have an excellent strategy, work ethic, and execution – but just the shittiest luck. Think about all the restaurants and hotels that opened up just before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Life can get in the way sometimes and overwhelm you – Personal tragedy, depression, family obligations, forced relocation etc. When that happens, it is important to accept that there is nothing else you could have done given those circumstances. That acceptance is crucial, as it is the first step to picking up your goals from where you dropped off.

So when numbers fail you, measure your success by asking yourself :

  • How satisfied are you with what you have? (Personal)
  • How satisfied are you with the effort you have put in so far? (Business & Personal)

Think about it, and feel free to share with us in the comments. Good luck.

the write guy

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