beach in Koh Tao Thailand 2013

How do we measure success at Backyard Creative?

In early 2013 my partner and I took two months off to travel in South East Asia and had what was, for both of us, the first real break since university. (COVID-times has me looking back at travel photos these days!) For me, it was exactly the space I needed to better evaluate the way my business was going and take a step back to reconsider systems to better support the process of running a business.

I was feeling burnt out and frustrated. Frustrated that although I worked all the time and had great clients, I wasn’t feeling “successful”. With business coaching earlier that year, I had really begun to noodle on – what is success anyway? Traditionally, a business is evaluated on its ability to make money. but I knew, for me, it was more than that. But how would I operationalize a triple-bottom-line mindset to measure success on my own terms? How would I guage whether I was on track or not?

Being my partner Mike is a high school teacher, somehow the idea of ‘marking’ came up. And yes, while relaxing on a beach, I crafted my own rubric for marking the success of my work. I score rather intuitively, based on 0-5 in each of the 5 pillars for success — and yes, it spells “B-E-A-C-H

  • Big Picture – what’s the client’s mission? Are they making the world a better place by improving social and environmental sustainability?
  • Ethical Match – do we share values of collaboration, authenticity, transparency, efficiency?
  • Alignment – do outputs align with the estimated scope of work, budget & timeline?
  • Creative Challenge – does work offer an opportunity for great creative work?
  • HR Wildcard – is this an opportunity for collaboration? how easy is this client to work with?

BEACH is a tool I continue to use today to reflect throughout the year on whether a project has the potential to be ‘successful’ in the new business process, and after the wrap-up meeting, in alignment with my annual accounting practises.

What do you do to measure your own success?