The problem with most small businesses these days is that they don’t actually know whether they’re actually successful or simply lucky to be surviving.
“But Paul,” you might say, “my store/website/lemonade-stand received 2,200 visitors last month and it generated 35 sales.” My response: “Great! So, was last month a successful one for you?” And then, I get nothing but a blank stare. (Seriously, I have a conversation like this at least once a week these days.)
Look, everyone knows that selling more stuff can usually mean that your business is doing just fine. But, the key is to define a clear, measurable goal.
“Sell more stuff” is not a goal. “Sell 30 widgets and 50 hubcaps every week” is much, much better.
As a rule of thumb, always start with your goal. You can’t create a good plan until you know your objective. So, be crystal clear on exactly what you intend to achieve. (Use this template to track your goals.)
Then, measure compulsively. Seriously, you’ve got no excuse — spreadsheets, Google Analytics or the 872,345 other tools out there will all do the job for you. Besides the usual operational stats, other useful metrics might be CPO (“Cost-Per-Order,” which includes advertising, fulfillment and expected returns, chargebacks, and bad debt), ad allowable (the maximum you can spend on an advertisement and expect breakeven), and projected lifetime value (LV) given return rates and reorder %.
In the end, just remember that you’ve got to start thinking about how to systematically build the business that you’ve started. Setting goals and measuring progress towards them is the smartest way to get there without wasting a ton of time and energy along the way.
Need some expert help to sort out the right goals or get some sort analytics package in place? Let me