Navigating Business Growth: Utilizing KPIs and Metrics

Strategy meeting focused on implementing KPIs and metrics to drive business objectives.

March 10, 2024

Okay, I'll admit it: I want to be a spreadsheet person. I've made those beautiful templates with color-coded sections, well thought out formulas, good structure… spending hours and then promptly forgotten about them a week later.

But let's be real, setting up the system is easy. It's the routine of actually checking those numbers, right? …that's where I, and a lot of entrepreneurs, stumble.

There were definitely times I missed those early warning signs – the kind a quick look at the right data could have caught. Think of it like your annual checkup. Your doctor doesn't just look at how busy you've been…they do bloodwork, check your vital signs. They're looking for those clues that something might be off, even if you feel fine.

It's the same idea with your business. KPIs and metrics are your checkup, so you can catch those ‘uh-oh' moments before they become a crisis.

That's their power. They don't care about your to-do list, they tell the story of what's REALLY happening in your business. Whether it's that spreadsheet you set up, a dashboard in your favorite tool, or even a simple notepad…tracking the right stuff regularly can mean the difference between “oops” and “on track.”

What the Heck Are They, Anyway?

Let's break this down, no textbooks allowed. Think of it this way:

KPIs: The Big Picture. These are the numbers that tell you if your overall goals are within reach. They're the stuff your future self is going to care about.

  • AMatt” Real World Example: Getting those next two new agency partnerships this year.
    • As a boutique agency, this is a big goal. Another, larger, agency or company this might be getting 10 or 20 new partnerships!
  • 🙋‍♀️ How About You?: What are those 1-3 big milestones you're aiming for? Comment below!

Metrics: The Building Blocks. These are the everyday numbers that get you to those big goals. They're where you spot progress, or potential problems, early on.

  • Number of prospects I get on an intro call this week (shows if your outreach is even working)
    • Quick Tip: “The goal is to get ‘x' number of people on a call with me.” My measurement is literally.. how many people got on a call with me.
  • Response times for client requests today (impacts that all-important customer satisfaction)
    • Quick Tip: Sometimes a focus on this is triggered by client or customer feedback. They have expectations, even if it's as simple as, “Hey, just let me know someone got this!”
  • Hours spent on [specific task] this month (helps you streamline and spot training needs)
    • Quick Tip: I recently found one of my team members was spending way too much time on a monthly task. Clickup showed me the numbers, now I need to figure out the “why” so we can improve.

Man, oh, man.. that's some boring stuff! 😅 haha.. but, it's not boring when you see the results of these efforts.

Key Point: KPIs and metrics work together

Your KPI might be that awesome customer retention rate. But if your support tickets are piling up unanswered, guess what? That awesome KPI is going to tank. Metrics make sure you see the whole picture, not just the shiny end result.

Let's Make This Work for You

The beauty of this is it doesn't have to be complicated. Your list of KPIs might be super short, especially when starting out. And that's okay! It's more about the habit of paying attention to the numbers that matter to YOU.

Why Not Just Trust My Gut?

Look, intuition's awesome. But let's be real…sometimes our gut feeling is more fueled by that extra burrito than actual data. And then there are those vanity metrics – numbers that sound good but don't really tell you if you're headed the right direction. (Like a million social media followers… if none of them convert to customers, who cares?)

The best gut instincts come from good information. Think of eating healthy – you can survive on junk food for a while, but to really feel good and have energy, you need the good stuff. Your KPIs and metrics are the nutrition that powers up decision-making.

Matt's KPI Hot Takes

Okay, here's where I might nerd out a bit, because a few select numbers have a real impact on how my agency operates. Let's dive in:

  • KPI 1: Website Development Cycle Time From idea to launch, how long are we taking? Is this process getting faster and more efficient, or are we getting stuck in the weeds? This shows me where I need to streamline or invest in training.
    • The Quality Factor: Speed is great, but it can't come at the expense of quality. We track this alongside our post-launch bug reports to make sure we're finding that perfect balance.
  • KPI 2: QA Catch Rate We don't want clients to be our beta testers! How many bugs are we finding BEFORE release…and how many AFTER? This KPI isn't flashy, but high-quality output is what keeps people coming back.
    • Real-World Lesson: We started using a new framework for building sites, and one launch had way too much client feedback on minor issues. We dug in, updated our standards, improved the framework and now that effort goes into the build process, not after-the-fact fixes.
  • KPI 3: “Level Up” Rate I'm big on helping my team grow. Are those learning resources making a difference? Are we getting better results over time because my people are getting sharper?
    • Beyond the Numbers: It's not just about task completion. Sometimes the best sign of “leveling up” is seeing a team member propose a new solution, or take initiative in a way they wouldn't have before.

Making it Work for YOU

Okay, here's the biggest mistake I see: People get caught up in what some guru says is THE metric to track, and they lose sight of what actually matters to THEIR business. Don't get me wrong, I love learning from others, but your business isn't a copy-and-paste situation.

Instead of obsessing over fancy tools first, let's get those basics down. Think of it like this:

  • What REALLY keeps you up at night? (Cash flow problems? Customer complaints? Project deadlines that seem impossible?)
  • What number, if you saw it budge, would make you either fist-pump the air or feel that pit in your stomach?

Closing

Get into a rhythm with your numbers, even if it starts super simple. Maybe it's a quick whiteboard session on Mondays, or jotting a few things down on Friday afternoons. The point isn't to become a spreadsheet wizard, it's to stop being a busy fool and start navigating with intention.

Create habits around this and watch your team and your processes improve!

Matt Levenhagen

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