This year, I spent the week between Christmas and New Years at my husband’s family’s lake home in Northern Wisconsin. Temperatures were below zero almost every day, so nestling in by the fire with hot cocoa and my laptop was quite appealing. I used the time to do some serious goal setting work. Though I’ve always been a big goal setting
nerd fan, this was the first year that I got super-sophisticated about the process and built a set of goals that I believe our business will actually be able to stick to and consistently measure ourselves against throughout the year.
Here are three things I did this year that made a huge difference:
#1: I went beyond revenue target-setting and built example revenue scenarios.
Last year, we had a goal in mind about how much we wanted our business to grow. However, it was nearly impossible to understand whether the way we were tracking over the year would actually get us to our goals, especially because we were in still in the very early phases of the business and huge shifts in client load and revenue happened almost every month. This year, I took things to the next level by building sample revenue scenarios that would get us to our new, loftier revenue goals for 2015. These scenarios include target sales for each month and quarter, and leave space for attrition and unforeseen changes. Though I’m sure that our reality won’t match any of these revenue scenarios perfectly, checking our growth against them each month should help keep us on track and quickly identify areas where we need to make changes.
#2: I built out a set of KPIs that are essential to reaching our revenue goal and helping us achieve our mission.
There are so many metrics you can track to determine the performance of a business, making it easy to get overwhelmed. Instead of tracking everything under the sun, I chose approximately ten Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that impact our ability to either achieve our big revenue goal, achieve our mission, or both. These include things like indicators of financial health, marketing success and web performance.
#3: I created a visual dashboard via Geckoboard to track our goals in real-time.
My business partner Lindsay and I are both visual people, and having a “pretty” dashboard through which to view our key metrics makes us much more likely to stay on top of our numbers. I first created a comprehensive budget and KPI tracker in Google Sheets, and then linked that tracker to a custom-built Geckoboard dashboard. If you haven’t checked out Geckoboard yet, get on it. The tool integrates with a ton of other programs, including Facebook, Google Analytics and Basecamp, and also allows you to build your own custom dashboards based on any data you’d like to visualize.
Here’s a glimpse at one of our main dashboards:
2015 is still fresh, and there is plenty of time for you to shore up your goal setting and tracking practices for the year ahead. Hopefully you can apply some of the things Prosper Strategies is trying at your organization this year.
Photo Credit: Jeroen Bennink