Set Performance Goals and Track Your Progress
For a small business owner, you do everything, and everything is up to do. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are using your time and money wisely. While you need to spend 2-4 hours a week on marketing and doing things like adding new website content and keeping up with social media, you also must evaluate your efforts to know if they are working.
Unless you are a sales and marketing guru, you will need some guidance and direction for this. With small and emerging businesses, few can afford to pay a lot for this, and some can’t afford to pay anything.
We have created Cultivate Works, a membership program with varying price points, to help you keep building a better business. With our $150,000 raised to help entrepreneurs grow their business, we are able to provide:
- Monthly in-person events
- eLearning business courses
- One-on-one coaching
- Cultivate facility access (Plus and Pro members only)
Cultivate will work with you and lead you through one of our tracks designed to meet you where you are at in the lifecycle of your business.
Your dashboard is an individualized page that offers direction and tracks your metrics. One thing you will find is an outline of where you are in the Cultivate Works process, including your action items and those Cultivate is taking to help your business. You will also find tracking for key performance indicators, with comparisons to your goals as well as in context from month to month.
We do this by recording your business metrics semiannually, scoring your website, setting monthly goals, and logging your metrics. Keeping track of all these things in one place will allow you to see if what you are doing is effective and if you are meeting your goals.
The process to getting your dashboard is simple:
- Join as a Cultivate member (even with the free Basics package)
- Request a dashboard
- Cultivate will create and configure it for you
Cultivate will meet with you to review your dashboard and begin helping you to keep building a better business.
This lesson is about how to set performance goals and track your progress with a business dashboard that’s really tailored to your business.
So I’m Matt Yerkes, founder of Cultivate. We began in Grove City in 2016. And since then we’ve expanded to London Ohio, and Pickerington, Ohio. And we serve entrepreneurs and small and emerging businesses all throughout the central Ohio region.
Cultivate works is the process that we use to help you to keep building a better business. And there are really four areas of how we do this.
The first is the in-person, business events and networking that we provide. So we typically do these the first full week of the month. We do them at all three of our locations this is an opportunity for you to build your professional network to get reviews and referrals and to listen to one of the presentations that we have.
The second thing we do is provide you with a business dashboard and advising support. So that’s mainly what we’re going to talk about today is the business dashboard, but we pair that with one on one business advising to help you move along the way.
The third thing that we do is we have a complete web-based learning management system where we can give you videos like this to cover different online business lessons with assignments so we can help you get started and move along the process to keep building a better business. And the fourth thing that we do is we provide access to our facilities. So these are desks or office or meeting spaces that you can use for yourself so you can free yourself from distraction and focus on your work. Very affordable month-to-month spaces. We have some members that only use our meeting rooms, and some that only use our street address. So there are a lot of different ways that you can use our facilities.
So what we’ve done is we’ve organized our membership really into three different tiers. We have a free tier, which we call our basics membership. And with that, we can help you to start building your small business dashboard. We can meet with you twice a year to do a small business checkup. To help you move along the way. We can invite you to all the different educational networking events that we host and we can provide you with all the online business lessons that we’ve developed.
The next step up is for those that really just need a verifiable street address because they want to show up better on Google My Business the local Google search results. So for 50 bucks a month, we create a Plus membership for you. We give you a mailbox and our facility with a suite number and we help you configure your Google My Business listing.
The third tier is what we call our pro membership and that is a membership that’s $200 a month. It includes monthly one-on-one business advising support, and we’re moving you through one of the different learning pathways that we have to help you to keep building a better business. From that. You can also add to that different levels of access to our facility. Whether you need a cubicle a co-working desk or a private office.
So what we’ve learned is that business owners need a process to keep building a better business. It’s not just enough to say that we want to keep building a better business but we need to have a process and a pathway to help you to do that. We call that process Cultivate Works.
The Problem For Business Owners
So the problem for business owners like you and me is you do it all and it’s all up to you. So everything rests on you as the small business owner and you need to make sure that everything you’re doing you’re using all of your resources wisely. So both their time is your most valuable asset as a small business owner, and obviously, your finances are something that you need to keep very tight control over.
So small business owners we would recommend that you spend two to four hours a week on your marketing and business development process. That’s really a minimum if you expect to have any traction at all with your marketing and business development. So this would involve adding fresh website content, keeping up on your social media posts, making referral referrals, generating followers on your social media, and growing your marketing database. So there are all these different things that you are challenged to do as a small business owner when it comes to your marketing and business development.
So Are Your Efforts Effective?
So as you’re spending all this time it’s adding up you know, week after week, month after month, we have to ask ourselves the question is what you’re doing effective? Like, are you moving the needle? As you know, are you just doing things that are just generating a lot of activity and effort but not necessarily showing results? So you have to have a process to measure and evaluate so you know what is working and what is not working? And unless you’re a sales and marketing guru, you’re gonna need some guidance and direction. So few businesses can afford to pay very much for this, especially in the early days of your business. Some people can’t afford to pay anything for this type of guidance and direction.
So this is a slide that I like to use to illustrate the pathways that we have to be on as a small business owners to keep building a better business. You know, on the one side of this slide is a picture of us doing a hike up in Maine. And if you look very closely you can see on the lower rock there’s a blue Blaze on that rock and up much higher in the photo is another blue Blaze and those are used obviously, to kind of mark the trail. Right but one of the things that you find when you’re hiking is it’s impossible to see the whole trail, you know, but you need to be able to see the next Blaze so you can see moving in the right direction but sometimes you can’t even see the next Blaze until you take a few steps forward. Okay even see what the next step is.
The next Blaze is so our goals with these steps and these learning pathways that we have. They’re really all about helping you kind of Blaze the way for you to kind of see the steps the next path or the path forward for your business. And on the right short side of this shot. Is Us finished climbing the mountain looking down from Mountain daddy and working for hand in me so like I said, you can’t always see the whole trail just kind of see the next step in the pathway? So that’s what we’re trying to do with this business dashboard is to move you along the path.
So Cultivate Works is this process that we’ve developed where we have raised over $150,000 that we are now investing to create these business lessons to show entrepreneurs what to do to keep building a better business. So part of this includes these business lessons we have implemented these in-person monthly workshops. We have online courses and these are all free to even our basic and plus members the basics membership is the free level of membership. So in addition to that, we provide limited one-on-one coaching for our basics and plus members.
Essentially, we have a semi-annual business checkup that we do with those membership levels and for our pro members. We meet with those people every single month and move them along this pathway helping them with their most pressing business needs. But for all these members, we’ve created a business and dashboard to help you evaluate where you are and see where you are in this process, you know, manage and take a look at what is working, what’s not working, and move you through the process.
Track and Steps
So we organize this process to help you to keep building a better business we have this organized into what we call tracks and steps. So the dashboard is these simple steps that we gave you to configure the dashboard with your goals and your baseline data. The launch track is the learning pathway to help people that have not yet started a business. So this is where we help people that are trying to validate their business idea they’re in the planning stage.
They’re developing projections, and a growth track, that’s the learning pathway to help people grow their business by building trust with customers. So for most people, this begins with that Google search. Hopefully, you move a portion of those people on to be one customer and then you’re trying to generate repeat business and referrals.
Cast track is the learning pathway where we help you to create a budget and projections to manager increase profitability to gain funding. In Food Truck is a process to help people that are specific to food-based businesses whether you’re a ghost kitchen, a restaurant, a catering company, or a food-based product business. So for each of these tracks, we have them broken down into manageable steps. So you can kind of keep moving along the process to keep building a better business depending on where you are in the lifecycle. And the type of business that you have.
So the goal of the dashboard is to outline where you’re at in the Cultivate works process. So the dashboard is going to show what are your action items? What are the next things that you need to do to keep building a better business? And it also lists the Cultivate actions. These are the supporting steps that we need to do to help you keep moving along the path. It also provides a view of your key performance indicators. So we’ll reference those as KPIs throughout the rest of this presentation. So these are really the key performance indicators we’ll take a closer look at those. And the goal is your efforts to result in revenue growth. So at the end of the day, we’re not going to keep building a better business unless we’re growing our revenue so that we have a lot of attention and energy built around that. So most of the KPIs that we’re going to show you they’re, they’re only helpful when you can look at them in context. And what I mean by context is to look at the trend of how are things changing month after month after month. For instance, if you’re one of the KPIs is are you increasing the number of visitors to your website, well doesn’t do a lot of good to know how many visitors you had to your site or how many followers you have, through your social media email marketing, unless you can see how many you had the month before that and the month before that because what we’re trying to do with some of these key KPIs is provided information in context. So you can kind of you can see the trends.
So here I’m just going to show you in the video, a sample dashboard. So this is just a high-level screenshot to kind of show you what this looks like and where we’re going to end up after we’re done with this presentation.
Guidance and Direction
So the first thing that we have in the dashboard is an area where we put the guidance and direction for you to help you keep building a better business. So again, we organize everything into tracks. These are the learning pathways for instance, or that pathway can help you build your dashboard or launch track for growth track for cash track. So we would organize these different learning pathways for you and then within the learning pathway, like the growth track are the steps so these are the actions for you the member and for cultivate for each step along the track.
The second thing that we show you on the dashboard is your member metrics. So here we’re going to show you your projected revenue and your revenue goals. So again, everything we’re trying to do is for the purpose of helping you to keep generating and growing your revenue in your sales metric goals. So these are different for every business. Some people maybe are trying to track how many leads a month they’re generating some people how many calls a month they make, and how many transactions they’re doing a month. Cultivate we keep track of how many proposals how many membership proposals we make every month, so that the label that you get for that is going to be different for every business, and then we give you an opportunity to set what your goal is for the number of those that you want to do each month.
We also provide a glimpse into the progress that you’re making on your key performance indicators. So we keep track of the number of events that you’ve attended. So it’s imperative as a small business owner, that you are doing the hustle of the small business you are out networking, trying to do some professional development. So this typically happens at events. So coming to one of our cultivate events would be a great way to accomplish that every month. But you could go to a chamber event you could go to a networking group, whatever it is that you want to do, we want to help you to set a goal and stick to it as best as you can through the year.
The next thing we want to take a look at is the number of referrals. Now everybody wants referrals for their business, but what most people don’t really consider is the way that you get referrals is by giving referrals. So if you want to get referrals you need to give referrals and that is something that is completely within your control to set a goal for how many referrals that you want to make to your professional contacts each month and record those so we would suggest that you try and make one a week would be a great goal to have for making referrals. And when you do that, you’re going to end up getting referrals.
The next thing is how many lessons have you completed. So again, we give you an opportunity through the learning lessons and videos and workshops that we offer Cultivate to complete a lesson, but there are lots of great lessons out there online that you can participate in and the goal is you need to do something every month to keep building your business knowledge. So we want to track that. Then the last set of metrics KPIs that we have on here is your social media posts, the number of web pages that you’re building each month, and keeping track of their total followers. across all of your social media, and email marketing campaigns.
Trends KPI Context
The next thing we want to look at is your trends for your key performance indicators in context. So again, for many of these things, it’s not super helpful to have a snapshot of just one point in time, but we really need to see the trend. You know, are we increasing and improving these numbers month after month. Are we headed in the right direction? Are the things that we’re doing effective and working? So the first area that we’ll look at is the content that you’re generating and your reach so this will look at things like your posts, your new pages, and your total followers.
The second thing we’ll look at is your website impressions. So this comes from Google Search Console, which is a free, easy-to-set-up tool that Google provides you so you can know exactly how many times you showed up in a Google search in a given time period. So we’re looking at what did you do last month? How many times did you show up in a Google search? So this is really one of the main ways that you’re going to know if the search engine optimization all that content creation that you’re doing for your website, if that is having an impact and working, you’re going to see that number, grow month after month after month.
The third thing that we have here is your website sessions. So this is from Google Analytics, again, a free and easy-to-setup tool provided by Google. And we’re really looking at how many visits they’re worth to your website. So again, this is really the end result of all the work you’re doing to create unique quality content on your website. And reach your audience is to look at some of this information from Google Analytics.
The last element that we’ll talk about here on the dashboard is your website score. So this is something that we have you do once when we first create a baseline for your website. And we can do this again. After any major change or significant change to your website. You can restore it it’s pretty straightforward and simple and easy to do. But what we do is we look at your website from three different areas. So the first area is the content. You have unique, quality, substantive content that’s themed around these targeted keywords that your business has. Most people do not have this. So they will not score very well when they first do this, but it’s something that you can improve upon and keep growing over time.
The next area we look at is your messaging. No, we really are trying to get people within three seconds of coming to your website to have a basic impression of your brand and understand what you offer and why buy from you. We call that your unique value proposition. From there we need to lead them and help them to very clearly see what is the next step that they should be taking to move forward and engage your company. So we call that your call to action. So those are hugely important for your website. We want to make sure that we have that on your website that we’re continually improving that on your website, and that you’re not doing something on your site where you will lose that. When we see sometimes people go in and make changes to their sites that inadvertently just kind of looking at things from their perspective instead of the perspective of a potential customer will oftentimes remove some of the key things on their site.
And then the third area is the technicals. So these are these easily achievable Best Practices career site structures. So I say easily achievable doesn’t mean you’re necessarily quick to do to your website. Some of them are some of them aren’t but they’re all are the best practices. So is your site responsive? Do you have an SSL certificate, there are other technicals that we look at too, but those give you a few ideas of things that your site should be configured with in the first place.
How Do We Do It
So how do we do it? How do we help you build this dashboard and keep this view of your dashboard? So there’s really these four areas. So first, we have you record your business metrics. This is something we’ll do with you semi-annually. The second is to score your websites. We only do this once and after major updates. Third, we want you to set your goals and that’s something you can do annually. Or if you feel there’s a big change in your business. You want to reset your goals. And then the last thing is to log your marketing metrics and we have a form view to do this pretty straightforward. Monthly.
So once all those are completed, then we can assign things for you to work on in the dashboard.
So here’s how we get started. The first thing we need to do is we can only provide this dashboard platform to our members. So we’re going to invite you to Elise and become a free basic, Cultivate member so you can sign up on our website, cultivateworks.org. Sign up for our free basics membership. And then when we will have a phone call discovery call, you can communicate that you want one of these dashboards.
The second thing is once we get that request, we’ll then go ahead and configure your dashboard template with these four short assignments. So these are the links to the four different forms that we need you to fill out to begin, establish baseline data, and begin collecting this data to display in your dashboard. We use this information to review and analyze before we have our meetings with you so we can keep you moving forward to keep building a better business.
Record Your Metrics
One of the first forms we’re going to have you fill out is how to record your metrics. So this is something that we’re going to ask you to do typically when you sign up and then every six months thereafter, we ask this for all of our members. So this is important because we’re going to include in that your goals for your revenue, we’re going to compare your goals to the actual revenue that you’re generating. We also take this information, the number of jobs that your business has the revenues that you’re projecting, and we aggregate that for all of our members.
We sum that up and we use that so we know if we’re doing a good job. If there are processes to help our members to keep building a better business. So there’s a place in here for you to record your full-time W-2 employees, your part-time W-2 employees, then also your 1099 subcontractors. So we’re not necessarily interested here and everybody that’s ever been a vendor for you that you send 1099 to.
This would really be like your core team of people that in many cases for small businesses, you haven’t yet taken the step to make them like a W-2 employee where you’re withholding payroll taxes for them. You’re just paying them as a 1099 subcontractor. So we’d like to know how many of those people there are. And then the last type of job that you can record here is the number of owners so owners typically in small businesses are not given a W-2 you’re not paid as part of payroll. So if you have one owner you put one if you have two or three owners, you’ve put in the number of owners for the business that are getting a share of the business profits, but are not necessarily paid by a W-2 employee. We ask you how much you’re spending on your payroll and what your annualized revenue is, and then our system will just pull up those jobs. We use that total job number, along with the total revenue numbers in payroll, we sum that across all of our members, and we use that to kind of see if we’re doing a good job.
Score Your Website
The next one we have is to score your website. This probably takes you about 15 minutes to go through and do and of course, we could do this for you but then you wouldn’t know what all the different things are that we’re looking at. And it’s we think it’s really important for you to see each of these items that we’re taking a look at. So you know as you’re going in and making edits and changes to your website, why some of these things are so important and that we don’t end up losing these things and, and moving backward when it comes to your website. So perhaps one of the most important things that we want to have you do is indicates if you have a core message and what is the core message text.
So this is a succinct statement that explains what it is you offer and why buy from you. So this is typically featured very prominently right at the top of the homepage. And we want to know what that is that you have it and what it is. And that’s something that we have business lessons that we will assign to you to help you to keep improving the second thing is do you have a clear call to action right there along with that core message? Is there a button is there something that you’re asking people to do what is the first step that people should take to engage you.
The rest of the items on here are super easy to indicate they’re just checkboxes if the statement is true, you just click on it, you know things like Do you have a clear phone number on your website? You’d be surprised how many people don’t. So we want it just as a simple, easy thing to do, but as part of the website score. So again, you’ll just go down through those questions, check the things that are true, submit it and you’ll have a better understanding of what goes into this score and the importance of these things.
The next step in building the dashboard is setting your member goals. So there are really two sets of goals here. First is your annual revenue goal. And then there are the monthly goals. So things like your sales metrics. Like and what the label is for that metric. So for instance, some businesses they’re trying to do us have a certain amount of leads every month, a certain number of proposals each month, whatever that sales goal is, what is the number that you’re shooting for, and what do you call it? What is the label that’s appropriate for your business?
You know, we have things in here to look at your professional development and networking. You know, what are the things that you’re trying to accomplish monthly as part of the hustle of being a small business owner? You know, how many posts are you trying to create on your social media? How many new web pages are you trying to create each month? And if you need some guidance on that you know, we can talk that over with you and we’ll have some indications in there for you too. How many referrals Do you want to make each month? So this is something again, it takes about 15 minutes to complete this we’re really only going to ask you to do this once annually. And then you know if you feel that something is major majorly has changed in your business you want to revisit your goals, then we can simply renew your balls.
The next form is really just to go over your monthly metrics. So this is as the name would suggest, we’re going to ask you to complete this once a month. It’s gonna take you about 15 minutes to complete, but this is really where things all come together. So we want to help you take a look at how are you doing in each area of your business. So you’re spending all this time every week working on growing your sales and marketing. We want to know if what we’re doing is effective and if it’s working. If you’re moving the needle if you’re accomplishing this goal to keep building a better business. So most of these are going to be pretty straightforward stats to pull from different places.
And well we have help on how to do that. We have your website sessions, which are going to come from Google Analytics. And again, we have a lesson to help you set that up if you haven’t done that already. And we have website impressions that come from Google Search Console. And again, if you haven’t set up Google Search Console, it’s free. It’s easy to set up. We have a short lesson to show you how to do that as well. So this is something we ask you to complete monthly. It’s going to take 10 to 15 minutes once you get the hang of it to put that data in once we have all of your dashboard data, at least your baseline data and we begin to gather this other information from you month after month. What we’re then able to do is complete the configuration of your dashboard and we will review that dashboard internally first, just to see through Parliament our own analysis of what we can be doing to help you to move along this path to keep building a better business. It’s going to be tailored a little bit for each of our members, and then for our pro members, we will begin moving the member along the launch track or the growth track with a monthly analysis of their dashboard. These business lessons are specific to the action items that we have in each of these steps along with our support to help you to keep building a better business. If you’re a basic or Plus member, we’re still going to be able to create this dashboard and assign this business lessons sequence to you. But we’re only going to meet with you semi-annually for that small business checkup.
So that explains why we feel it’s so important for a business to have a dashboard and really keep track of where they are in this process of building a better business and how we help you along the way to do that. So the first thing that you would want to do if you would like to have a dashboard is signed up for Cultivate membership.
So at least the free basic membership and we can begin this process of getting you started with a dashboard. If you’re already a member, we just need you to reach out and let us know that you want to have a dashboard for your business. From there, we’re going to configure the dashboard template for you and get you started with those different forms that we need you to fill out to have this initial baseline data that we can use to help you keep track of your progress.