“What gets measured gets done.”
Someone, somewhere, at some time, said this. Or a version of this. I’m not quite sure.
Either way, this is a good quote, especially for creatives.
For most creatives, like me, the notion of measuring aspects of your work…you know, like metrics, analytics, data, etc.—is extremely uninspiring. I can think of a zillion other things I’d rather do than track data.
However, it is necessary. If you want to grow a healthy, thriving creative business or career, you need to be tracking certain aspects of your work. If not, you’re essentially on a journey without a map or any reference points to guide your next step.
The good news is that there’s only a handful of metrics you need to be tracking diligently. Sure, there are other important bits of data to keep your eye on, but these three measures are the most critical for us creatives.
The three metrics you need to be tracking are:
- Sales-Generating Activities
This metric is all about generating new business.
Ask yourself: “What are the key things I am doing regularly to earn new clients and book more work?”
This could be asking for referrals, making connections on LinkedIn, updating your portfolio, posting new material on social media, even cold calling, knocking on doors, or posting on job boards. Whatever action you need to take to drum up more work is a sales-generating activity.
How will you measure this? This is a mostly manual measure. I encourage you to keep a simple spreadsheet where you tally up your daily sales generating activities. Set yourself a daily or weekly goal, and try to hit your goal. If you choose the right sales generating activities, and track them diligently, you should begin to book more business. If you have a CRM, you can likely track these activities using features of the platform.
- Your Time
This metric is about making sure the business you generate is profitable.
Ask yourself: “Is the amount of time I’m putting toward this work worth the cost my customer is paying?”
If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with time-tracking. I wrote a whole blog about it here, so check it out if you want to learn more about my obsession. In short, for creatives, your time is money. If you’re not tracking your time you will have no idea how profitable or unprofitable your business is. You will also have no idea if your pricing is right, if you’re leaving money on the table, or if you could be spending your time doing more valuable things.
How will you measure this? I recommend using a time-tracking app. I personally use Harvest, although there are plenty others. Find one that allows you to track different types of tasks, so you can get a holistic idea of where you’re spending your time.
- Customer Satisfaction
This metric is about ensuring you’re doing a good job.
Ask yourself: “Are my customers happy with their experience?”
A common business term is “net promoter score” – in other words, how likely are your customers to tell their friends and family about you?
If you do a killer job, people will be busting at the seams to tell others about their great experience. And if you do a terrible job, people will scream from the rooftops to warn others to avoid you like the plague.
You need to have an idea of your customer satisfaction, or net promoter score, to know if you’re on the right track. If your satisfaction is high, keep doing the same thing. If your satisfaction is low, then determine what needs to be fixed.
How will you measure this? Again, this is mostly manual. If you work closely with your clients, I would survey them – informally or formally – after you finish the job. Make it easy on them and just ask a few questions to gauge how happy or not happy they were. You can set up a simple online form, send them the link, and collect data that way. If you have a business where people can post online reviews, this is also a good metric to look at.
You may need to get creative, but your customer satisfaction is a critical measure you need to keep an eye on.
Although there are lots of other kinds of data you could be tracking, it’s important not to get overwhelmed and give up. Start small. Start with these three:
Track your sales-generating activities.
Track your time.
Track your customer satisfaction.
If you watch these three numbers, you’ll be well informed to continue growing an awesome creative business. You’ll have reference points on your journey to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.