Measuring success, on a BEACH

Beach with forested mountains and fishing boats
Koh Tao, Thailand, 2013. Photo: Lisa Hemingway

In early 2013, I took two months off from work to travel in South East Asia and had what was, for both of us, our 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.

Traditionally, a business is evaluated on its ability to make money. For me, it has always been about more than that. As someone who has applied triple-bottom-line thinking to my business from day one, I knew I needed a way to reflect and measure success on my own terms, so I could gauge whether I was on track without simply reacting to the financial impacts of my business.

Being that 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 business. 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“:

  • Budget: is the budget reasonable / flexible?
  • Ethical Match: is their mission aligned with social/environmental sustainability?
  • Amplified impact: will our contribution amplify their intended impact?
  • Connection or collaboration: is this a great opportunity for connection / collaboration?
  • Heart / Excitement: are we passionate about this?

BEACH is a measuring tool I still use today. We have customized it a bit, now that we’re iilo, and use it to reflect at different points of a project life cycle. In the new business stage, we use a project’s BEACH score to determine whether or not a project has the potential to be “successful” before we send out an estimate. After a project has wrapped up, we look at a project’s score to ensure alignment, as part of our quarterly business review check-ins.

What do you do to measure success in your business?

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