When you think of measures —— what do you feel? Is it dread, excitement, or annoyance?

Measures are critical because they are the way to make something esoteric (like a “why”) concrete. When you pick the right measures —- and let go of the rest, you’ll be able to answer two critical questions:

  1. Did I get there?

  2. Are the actions I’m taking to get there working?

Here are the three steps to help you get the most out of your measures; and leave a bit of the frustration behind.

Step 1. Decide what matters

Keeping measures simple is the key to make them useful. We split them into two categories to know how to work with each.

Mapping your Results Measures

Results measures are where you want to go and when you want to get there.

They are connected directly making your “why” concrete. (See: How do you figure out your why? for a refresher)

Your “Why” can be broken down into four different types of measurement categories:

  • How you want to use your time

  • What experiences you want to have

  • How much money you need to live the life you want and/or how much money the business needs to fund its impact

  • The impact you want your business to have on the world

Here’s an example – Let’s say your personal why is to increase owners compensation to fund savings so you can step back from the business and move to Tahiti (sounds nice, right?)

Here’s how that might break down to results measures:

  • Owners Comp: $200K annually (Money) which requires $500K sales with <35% expenses

  • Sell the business in 2027 for $300K (Money)

  • Savings goal: $1M by 2027 (Money)

  • Step hours down to 5 per week by 2027 (Time)

  • Move to Tahiti in 2027 (Experience)

So now that you have your results measures, you move onto action measures.

Choosing your Action Measures

These are measures that reflect how you believe you’ll get to the results.

They serve two simple purposes:

  • Are you doing the actions that you believe will get you to the results?

  • Are those actions yielding the results?

If the answer to these questions is no at any point —- you know exactly where to focus. An action measure needs to ALWAYS be actionable.

If you can’t take action on it —- it’s time to stop tracking it and move onto something else.

There are several types of action measures that you can use:

  • Recurring – An activity you do on an ongoing basis but need to focus on making a habit or determine if the frequency and quality are correct to get the results. An example is sales calls.

  • One Time – Sometimes you need to do an improvement project to implement a new solution or launch a new service or update your website. These one-time goals are also called “rocks” or “projects”.

  • Short Term Measurement Changes – This is when you need to focus on something for a period of time, but once it gets to a healthier spot, you can take your eye off the ball. A great example of this is improving your average days to get paid if cashflow is an issue and that is one of the contributing factors. By tightening up processes and automation and fine-tuning your payment options to make paying on time easy — you can fix it and forget it.

These measures will change constantly. Mine are re-evaluated monthly, but I would recommend no more than quarterly for action measures.

Life changes fast. So does business. It’s important you can change with it.

Step 2. Set your monthly schedule

How many times do you start looking at data and lose hours or avoid it because it’s overwhelming?

If data is your vice or your kryptonite, then a simple process of scheduling the work can help a lot. This means:

  • Establish a specific day you look at certain data

  • Time block your calendar so you don’t spend too much time on it

  • Delegate the details so you don’t get lost in it

  • Do things at the same time that require the same data so you lose less time

Here’s how this plays out for most clients I work with:

  • Have your bookkeeper close the books by the 10th of the month

  • Have your other data prepped and ready too (your marketing performance or sales activity, whatever is important to track for your actions)

  • On the 15th of the month you —- review your performance against goals for the last month and capture your learnings and actions, then plan the following month

You can knock it all out in 1-2 hours once a month (or less if you’re efficient and have some help with data gathering). And you’ll be set to hit the ground running.

Bonus: Every time you meet and beat your goal —- celebrate it. There is a power to celebrating achievement. Your brain gets a larger dopamine hit from the anticipation of a reward than from the reward itself (see “Atomic Habits” by James Clear), and you’ll subtly reinforce the habits you built to get there.

Step 3. Set your targets

Now that you have your measures and your cadence you need to set your targets. That is what will happen by when.

There are a lot of differing philosophies out there on target setting.

I teach my clients to consider the three approaches as tools in your toolbox that work well during different times.

  • Aggressive goals (think the 10x Rule by Grant Cardone).

    • Use this when you need to take advantage of a time-sensitive opportunity or when you need massive innovation in a space

    • Remember that its tough to sustain this level of production and constantly missing goals (even though you did well) can affect you and your teams’ morale and psyche

  • Conservative goals (ones you know you can hit)

    • Use this when you are trying to build or rebuild confidence. Making a goal can be a powerful tonic when you or someone on your team lacks experience or confidence in a specific area. If you’re looking for inertia in a new (scary) area, this is a great way to provide that temporary boost.

  • Hybrid: A base goal that is just out of reach, and a stretch goal that will push you

    • I recommend the majority of my clients sit here. The goal is to get you just enough out of your comfort zone that doing what you do today won’t get you to your goals. Think of it like a strength-training regiment To build muscle (grow) you need push the body past its comfort zone enough to micro-tear the muscles so they can rebuild stronger than before. But if you push yourself too hard, too fast, you can cause injury.

    • By having a stretch goal you have something to reach for after you achieve your base goal, keeping you from getting too comfortable 😉

The sweet spot for motivating steady, sustainable, growth is just outside of your comfort zone but within your field of vision.

Step 4: Do it

Sit down today and set your goals for the next month. Start simple and easy.

Then send me a note at jenny@acthoughtful.com and tell me what your goals are for next month. I’ll send you a note after the next month is done and check-in to see how it went!

Are you looking for the next level of detail and some workbooks you can use?

We dive deep into this topic (including workbooks you can download and use) in our Gear Up for Growth online course.

  • Week 2 we set measures

  • Week 3 we evaluate your business to decide where to focus (marketing or finance anyone?)

  • Week 7 we set targets

  • Week 8 we help you establish a performance and planning routine that works for you

Jenny Erickson grows micro-businesses by getting them from where they are to where they want to be through advice, coaching, and fractional-COO support. Which business are you?

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