Data is Feedback

The value of data will vary depending on stage of the business. Regardless of ones season of business, the numbers matter. They will likely be different, but tracking key information is no less important. Most often, it’s a few numbers that impact an organization’s performance.
For young businesses, it’s hard to know what matters since change is constant. There is a bent to focus on things that are easy tracked, such as Google Analytics, revenue, or expenses. However, there is more pointed information that can have a greater impact on the business.
At a high level, the data of the business fits into four buckets:
  • Sales
  • Operations
  • Financial
  • Product/Service Data


Sales is the front door of the business and focuses on prospects and new business. A few numbers can determine the health of ones sales pipeline. Also, the right numbers can provide insight into the future business success.
Common metrics include:
  • conversion rate
  • close rate
  • new customers


PersistIQ. An outreach automation tool, PersistIQ simplifies followup emails. It can be time consumng to stay in touch with unresponsive individuals. Persist helps followup at various intervals without pulling attention from more eager prospects.


These are the basics of any business, regardless of size. Common metrics include:
  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit
  • Gross Margins
An important note, expenses within some businesses are much more important than others. At Polar Notion, we spent some time in early 2018 looking at cutting expenses. As a lean service company, we realized our time wasn’t well spent. Without inventory sitting on a shelf or high overhead costs, we stood to gain pennies. Time spent increasing efficiency however, yielded significant returns.
In ‘Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!’, author Greg Crabtree discusses key financial numbers. His has identified ‘Return on Invested Capital’ as any businesses greatest success metric.


Xero. We’ve used this for years as cloud accounting software. It provides simple reporting and access to our information wherever we need it.


Operational data and metrics speak to the work of the business. This isn’t the data that’s part of the core service, rather it’s information about performance around the product or service.
  • customer satisfaction
  • customers services
  • churn
  • customer retention
Net Promoter Score is a example of Operational Data. ‘How likely are you to recommend to a friend’. It illuminates how well the business is delivering on what the customer is buying. A simple 5 star rating can also go a long way in understanding what matters most to consumers. At New Story, an international housing nonprofit, we track funds received. Atop this common financial metric, we also track how fast we can deploy those funds received. At Sharpp, a SAAS product for franchise management, we look at daily active users.


Promoter. A tool for tracking your Net Promoter Score, Promoter makes analysis straight forward. The net promoter score is a little more complicated than most realize. This tool handles the collection and calculations, which saves time and energy.
Google Reviews. Their simple 5-star systems keeps the barrier for feedback quite low. Assuming the reviews are positive, it can also bolster a brands online presence. If people are searching for your business, chances are they’re using google. Why not show market validation when they find you.

Product/Service Data

Data that pertains to the product or service has become popularized in recent years. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science depend on this type of data.
  • Bounce Rate
  • Pages per Visit
  • Session Duration
  • Popular Search Terms
  • Most engagement content
  • Usage times
Google relies on information like number of times ‘fluffy cat video’ is searched. This drives the quality and price of their advertising service.
Lyft and their ability to match drivers and riders comes from service records. The more they know, the better they anticipate and provide value to customers.
Facebook is best example (though likely the worst if tracking benefit to humanity). Their ability to collect and take action on user data has led them to a half-trillion dollar company. Customer satisfaction is plummeting, but their knowledge of our behaviors is unaffected.


Google analytics, Full Story, and are great tools for tracking user activity. Armed with this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions.

In closing

In the end, everyones key metrics will be different. What matters most is consistency and simplicity. Three numbers tracked daily will prevail over dozens of numbers rarely engaged. Start by identifying 1-2 numbers before group. Online how often you’ll track them and where you get that information. When possible, include others in the process. Consider making those numbers more visible within the organization.
That which gets measured, gets improved.
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