We are halfway through our year-long effort to identify and discuss strategies that can Unlock Your Opportunities in life and in business, and this month's step in the process is to pause to measure our progress and measure our results. Remember those goals we set earlier this year? This month, we need to measure the results of our actions so far and honestly evaluate our progress. Good or bad, we need to know.
It has been said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and I couldn't agree more! How do we move toward our goals if we don’t know if our plan is working and if we are making any progress toward success? You evaluate your gas gauge every time you get in your car to see if you can get to where you are going, and you measure your gas mileage to identify any problems your car might be having, before it breaks down completely. The same process works with your life and you business. There are a few easy steps to follow to make sure you keep on track with accomplishing your goals…big or small.
1) Decide what factors are critical to measure:
Measuring will do you no good if you measure the wrong thing or if you try to measure everything. Pick out the indicators that will give you true insight to what progress you are making. If your goal is losing weight, it does no good to keep measuring your height! Portion size, and a daily visit to the scale is going to be the information you want if you want to lose weight.
Same goes for your business too, find the things that true indicators of your progress and you will know immediately what is working and what is not. Maybe measuring sales would make it too late to adjust your strategy. Measuring incoming calls or appointments may be a better indicator of your progress and allow you to be more proactive.
2) Define your data
Tracking data is the first step in measuring and evaluating, however you must know what the data represents and what it really means... otherwise it is useless. In losing weight, counting calories may give you data, but if you don’t know how many calories you are allowed per day, it is just an exercise. I constantly measure activity in my organization but I really had to dig in and define each tracking category. A “contact” with our organization is counted differently than someone who visits a business coach, attends a training, or participates in a networking event. Because we have defined the meaning of each category in advance, it makes it easy to track, and most importantly, easy to compare data from year to year.
3) Monitor along the way
Don’t wait until the end of the year or even the end of a quarter to monitor your progress. You can spot success, (or lack thereof) in a matter of weeks, and sometimes in a matter of days. I ran an ad campaign once that suggested they clients call and ask for Mary to get a special deal. While there wasn't actually a Mary working for me at the time, it allowed me to count the number of calls produced by that particular ad… just by counting the number of inquiries for the fictional Mary! We knew pretty quickly what ads were working just by using different names on different media. If you wait until the end to measure and evaluate, you are too late to adapt your strategy and make a difference.
4) Evaluate honestly
Any evaluation must be honest. There are times when we can create some great excuses for non-performance. While there are always circumstances beyond our control, we must honestly evaluate our reasons for success and/or failure. A personal trainer told me once, “Only you are in control of what goes in your mouth!” While we laughed at that statement originally, it was not so funny when I tried to explain why I wasn’t losing weight a week later. Any plan or strategy must be reviewed and evaluated, and every plan requires adjustments so evaluate honestly, make adjustments and move on! Achieving success in business or your life is a process not an event.
I want you to know that I do practice what I preach in this blog. This month I have measured the progress and evaluated the evolution of this blog platform. The online engagement (readership, shares, likes) has shown consistent growth and has met my original goals. The interactive comments and responses have been fewer than I anticipated, although I was warned early on that I was being very optimistic. Overall, it has provided a great creative outlet for never ending thoughts on business and life.
One adjustment that is required will be that I will combine business and the life lessons of the monthly blog into one post instead of two. I have found that the monthly strategies that I discuss apply to both facets of our life so closely that it does not require separate posts… and it will reduce duplication and overlap of ideas. Our business life and our home life are so intertwined that good ideas will truly span the many roles we play. I look forward to continuing this year-long journey because I am learning a lot from the process of observing, writing, and sharing with you. I hope you can say the same!
Until Next Time…