How do you measure your growth and impact?
Clearly there are many different answers depending on your structure, industry and purpose.
As a young business, started part-time in the attic and around the parks of South Wales 5 years ago. Now operating as a fully fledged company in the last 18 months we have to continually ask ourselves this question to ensure that we…well stay alive really. However the question is worth reflection given some recent news articles which we have linked below with some headline quotes (I will comment on these individually).
My straight answer in a corporate sense is: 1000% in the last 18 months (2014-2016).
As a not-for-profit; without shareholders – we don’t need or want to quote how much revenue or profit we have grown by. It is important, but we get up in the morning to improve the lives of children and young people…profit for investment may well come as a result of our work, but it ain’t why we do what we do. No, that 1000% growth represents the number of people employed or volunteering with us at present; in the last 18 months we have gone from 1 person to 10…all contributing to our purpose (7 employed and 3 volunteers).
We are proud of that figure as it has real meaning; each person has contributed to creating new experiences and memories for 1688 individuals who have visited us at Dare Valley Park, engaging with and in nature, physical activities and stimulating environments since April 2015.
Now in considering the below two articles; it fills us with huge pride that in our small way we are contributing to sustainable job creation. Despite our size, there is a school of thought which claims it is our youth and purpose which will continue to contribute to creating jobs.
The number of people unemployed in Wales is 63,000, 10,000 fewer than three months earlier and down 35,000 for the same period a year ago.
The fall in unemployment is steeper in Wales than the UK as a whole.
Whilst many think that all small businesses are the employment engine of the economy, it is actually new and young companies that the primary source of job creation across America. In addition, they contribute significantly to the dynamism of an economy by introducing competition into markets and initiating innovation.
The article below shows that a degree of perspective and caution is needed, one imagines traits that all start-up’s and SME’s possess, as the general picture in Wales and our South Wales and Valleys base is not all sunshine and rainbows. For us the simple answer is to innovate and employ passionate individuals. This is why creating Wales’ 1st registered nature Kindergarten was in our founders plans and vision whilst travelling Scandinavia and Japan observing educational best practice, something which could have numerous life-long benefits to children in RCT, Wales and further, as well as become the backbone of a solid and sustainable business with opportunities to..well we won’t share all our plans and secrets just yet.
Wales remains firmly rooted to the bottom of an influential index assessing the economic competitiveness of the UK with five of its local authorities in the bottom 10, according to new research.
Innovation with the kindergarten combined with job creation for passionate and skilled teaching practitioners = growth and impact.
The other question which jumps out from the article is how can businesses like ours be supported in the current climate of national and local austerity in terms of £ and personnel..?
It is our experience that Wales has been pretty good to us. At national level, Jobs Growth Wales has been vital (but at some times overly bureaucratic). Arms-length support from Local Government has been important in terms of making our home in the borough, nay, valley of our birth (we would have travelled to Torfaen or Cardiff, but so glad we don’t). National Assembly support from our Cynon Valley AM has been important, important in providing confidence that our impact has resonance with national issues and not just locally.
How do you measure your growth?
Well, we also quite like the answer one child told us this week at our LadyBirds Nature Parent & Toddler group:
You ask mammy to get a ruler out and stand against the wall
In that case, we’re certainly taller now than we were 18 months ago.