A longstanding definition of business success is growth. We have all heard the maxim “If your company is not growing it's dying.” Growth in this model of success relates to volume of sales, the size of the company.

Let's take an innovative moment and rethink the concept of growth as it describes business success. Let's consider that size represents only one example of growth, and that other equally appropriate definitions exist.

Growth in profitability.

Because you read my columns, you know I have a bias. I don't care how much your company sells; I care about how much it keeps. Some companies increase their sales volume by stunning amounts. Yet, their bottom line decreases or stays flat. This doesn't define success for me. Increasing the bottom line with minimum sales growth is my favorite definition of growth.

Growth of your people

If you hire people who think of themselves only as wage earning, blue collar “construction guys,” and you can grow them into excited members of your team, this is success. When your people's motivation comes from making your customer happy, creating a quality job, helping the company achieve its plan, and having fun working for you, this is success. When your people's motivation comes from these intrinsic values rather than a paycheck, you have achieved success by growing your people.

Growth of your industry

Successful growth in your industry has several meanings. One has to do with your reputation and how it contributes to the overall perception of the industry in your community. By running a reputable company, your company contributes to the quality of your community. You actively make the world a better place by making your place in the world a little bit better.

Another way to contribute to the growth of your industry is to participate actively in your trade association by working to develop standards and certifications, seeking ways to attract good kids to this great industry, sharing your knowledge with your colleagues, and helping to raise the standards for codes of conduct. Successful businesses devote time and resources to their industry.

Personal growth

Last, but certainly not least, is the growth you make as a person. Within your business, become an innovator. Open yourself to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Be willing to try different and innovative ways of running your business. Try new materials and building techniques. Take the leap and fully embrace your owner's role to become an effective leader and manager, and then move even beyond that role to becoming the coach and company sage.

Then there is innovation in your personal growth outside your business.

Have you looked in the mirror lately and wondered who that old person is? Have you expanded your horizons with travel? Learned a new skill that has nothing to do with your business? Become a Big Brother to a needy kid? Taken a leadership role on a community project? Read a book about something you knew nothing about? Gotten to know your kids while they are still home? Gotten to know your spouse now that the kids are gone? How have you grown as an individual? If you still wear the same style of clothes, have the same hair cut, tell the same jokes, get angry at the same things, eat the same foods, read the same books, go on the same vacation as you did when you started your business 20 years ago, then you have many wonderful opportunities to achieve success by growing yourself as a person.