At the beginning of every school year, students from kindergarten through college spend the first few weeks of school getting adjusted and finding the right classes. Key in that process is the placement test. Teachers evaluate their pupils for reading, math level, and overall socialization. These tests not only ensure that students end up in a class that’s paced properly and is challenging enough; they also provide an important benchmark to measure progress over the ensuing year.
Businesses could do well by taking the same approach. Figuring out where you are now not only lets you appreciate how far you’ve come, it also helps identify areas where you may be lagging behind your aspirations. Here are few of the metrics you can look at to evaluate your business:
1. Web statistics. If you own an online business, web stats are the backbone of your check-up. How many people visit your site, how long they stay, what pages they visit, and whether they return will all help you figure out what you need to do to keep them around longer. Other things to explore: How they arrived at your site, and how you show up in search engine results for your keywords. Google Analytics or your cpanel statistics are great places to start.
2. Revenue. I’ll assume you’re in business to make money. So how much are you making? Where is your money coming from? What products are services are most popular? This information will help you make more informed decisions going forward.
3. Expenses. Money coming in is only half the equation: How much money is going out? Where is it going, and why? Are there easy places to eliminate expenses? Remember, cutting your expenses is an even more effective way to put more money in your pocket than increasing your revenue.
4. Hours worked. Exactly how hard are you having to work for the money in #2? It’s great to make $50,000 a year – unless you’re working 100-hour weeks to create that income. Figure out where the time is going and you’ll be on the track to increasing your efficacy and your per-hour wage.
5. Customer satisfaction. It’s more cost-effective to sell to a repeat customer than to bring new customers into your business, so how happy are those who purchase from you? Check out your return rate, and your repeat customer rate to see.
6. Employee turnover. Can’t keep a virtual assistant longer than a month or two? It may be them… but if it happens over and over again, it just might be YOU. If your customer turnover seems excessive, dig into why your help is leaving faster than rats off a sinking ship.
Taking an honest look at where you are now is the only way to create a workable path towards a brighter tomorrow. If you see areas where you could use a little extra help or “tutoring,” work with your business coach or mentor to figure out how to bring your skills up to grade level.