My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
Regular analysis and assessment may not be the sexiest part of running your business, but it’s a crucial part of sustainably scaling your business, saving on expenses, avoiding disasters big and small, and increasing your profit margin.
The only way to get better at anything is to put attention and focus into it.
And the only way to know that you're getting better at anything, especially business, is to track your progress by assessing and evaluating what you did on a consistent basis. Then compare them to the results you achieved.
The Six Lenses of Business assessment, my favourite method for assessing my business, is adapted from Alex Charfen’s 5 Core Functions of Business evaluation, which I learned originally on his Momentum podcast. I’ve added a few twists of my own to encompass other aspects that are important to my business.
Inside Scale Society – my mentorship program for soul-centered entrepreneurs who are ready to grow and scale their businesses purposefully, strategically, and consistently – one of the first things we do is determine their critical numbers and key metrics.
Critical numbers are, as the name implies, critical numbers to watch and influence in order to meet your business goals. You typically have 2 or 3 that you look at regularly. Your revenue is typically your first critical number with the others being anything from the number of people on your mailing list to the total number of leads in your sales funnel.
We also go into detail on key performance indicators (KPI’s). Typically when I mention KPI’s everyone says “I’ve heard of Key Performance indicators before but what the heck are they?”
These are the metrics that tell you how things are going for any project your company is working on.
It's not enough to just look at the numbers and say, “Oh, that's good,” or “Oh, that's bad.” Every KPI is telling you a story, and your understanding of that story is critical to what you do next. Think about the numbers you're seeing and ask some questions:
→ Are we on track to meet our goals?
→ What is affecting the change in those KPI’s?
→ How do those KPI’s compare to the previous assessment period? Or to the same period last year?
→ Should you be changing or increasing the goal in that area?
Anytime you're looking at a KPI, ask yourself a few questions about it so that you don't miss any opportunities to affect change, pivot, or take advantage of opportunity.
You also want to remember to build pauses into your business so that you can take time to assess and evaluate your progress, including taking time to ask questions about your business as a whole. The cadence that works well for my business and my clients’ businesses is monthly, quarterly, and annual reflections.
There are plenty of ways to assess your business but my fav is this one that I do for my business and my OBM clients quarterly to help plan the next quarter’s projects. I also do a quick gauge monthly to see if anything’s changed.
The six lenses of business are:
The leads you produce for driving your critical number with your main offer. Are you consistently capturing leads who are a good fit for your offers?
How you currently help new leads move toward becoming a buyer. Do you have processes in place to follow up with leads and convert them into customers? People become leads because they’re interested in you and your services or products. They need proper follow up to help them decide to be a customer or not.
How effectively leads convert to your main offer or the main conversion that affects your critical number. Are you consistently improving your conversion rates with ideal clients? Improving conversion means improving one of your critical numbers: revenue.
How consistent your buyers’ experience is with your service. Does every client experience the same processes for onboarding, customer service, average results, offboarding, etc.? A consistent delivery process can influence customer retention.
How many customers remain on your mailing list, become repeat buyers, buy other products or services from you, or buy upgrades on an existing service. Do you consistently maximize how much your clients do with you? This can be a powerful place to develop because it costs less to retain a customer than to attain a new customer.
The current state of your team, even if it’s just you. How well does your team meet and stay aligned on company goals? Do they have the resources and skills needed to reach goals? How is their workload? Evaluating your team builds a healthy culture and helps you retain awesome team members.
The assessment is simple and shouldn’t take more than an hour.
You’re going to look at each lens and give each a score from 1 (low) – 5 (high), being sure to note why you scored yourself that way.
There are no halves. If you think you’re a 1.5, round down and score the lens as a 1.
If you have a team, I recommend going through the assessment with them to get their insights.
Run through the full assessment every quarter, and then review the document each month to see if anything has changed.
At the end of each quarterly assessment use the results as part of a quarterly planning session.
Choose the lowest scored item to plan projects around in order to raise its score. If you have two or more areas tied for the lowest score, focus on the item furthest in the list first.
For instance, if Lead Generation, Conversion, and Retention were all tied for the lowest scoring lens, plan projects around addressing Retention first. No sense pouring water (leads) into a leaky bucket.
NOTE: As you fix one thing, other areas will begin to erode or break. If your Lead Gen triples, you might notice that your Delivery score decreases next quarter. That’s natural, a business version of the saying, “New level = new devil.”
This fiscal year, I’m taking you behind the scenes of my quarterly planning process.
While you’re there, leave a comment and tell me what method you use to regularly assess your business.
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