Growth is messy. It just is. As much as we (and I’m clearly projecting here) want to make it planned, predictable, and an exponential curve up and to the right, that isn’t the reality. If you want to track growth, that can get even messier. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be.
There are many quotable insights from history’s greatest military minds on the value of planning and the fact that it doesn’t hold up as soon as battle starts. Churchill, Eisenhower, and Patton immediately come to mind. But the one that really sums it up for me is credited to Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
What’s your plan? Or have you already been punched in the mouth?
Listen to Season 1: Episode 22
The Problem with Tracking Growth
The real conundrum about growth is that it’s uncertain just by its very nature. And yet, in order for humans to grow, we need to be confident. Admittedly, it’s really hard to be confident when there’s so much uncertainty.
You’ve likely experienced this particular cycle yourself: Growth means change. Change brings uncertainty. Uncertainty erodes confidence, but growth requires confidence. It feels a bit like an uphill battle.
The best way I’ve found to battle uncertainty is with facts—because when I rely mostly on my feelings, uncertainty grows. But with facts, informed decisions can be made. Then, even amid uncertainty, we can continue to define and change course as needed to keep going where we want to go. That’s the key to properly track growth.
What’s Needed to Track Growth
Facts and data are how we chart through growth. The plan is like plotting your expedition course. And then when things don’t go exactly as planned on the expedition, the data (that we get through analytics, metrics, and reporting) helps to remap the route. Sometimes it even helps us discover what we initially thought was a disappointment turns out to be a shortcut!
In my last corporate job, I had the privilege and burden of making decisions that affected 10 million users of our software. Tragically, I didn’t have direct data or tracking inside the software that would give me information on how it was being used. Could we take out features that weren’t being used? Nope, I didn’t know. Was a new feature actually helpful? Couldn’t say, since we couldn’t tell if anyone was using it.
Without quantitative data, I was forced to seek out qualitative data by talking to the people in the organization closest to our users: customer support. Getting information about what they were hearing from customers was the data I used to navigate the definition of our product roadmap.
Tracking Growth in Your Business
How can you do this for your business? The bad news is that you have to put data collection into place before you need it to adequately track growth. (Certainly, there are ways to get some information, as in my example, but do yourself a favor and set up tracking in the beginning.) The process really starts before you are in the midst of growth or change. Your tracking ensures that you:
- Have a way to see what is happening.
- Know how your audience has reacted/engaged.
- Can show what you changed (if your numbers go up or down, this is how you figure out why).
This is the basic framework of any tracking. There are many tools that help with this: Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Heap, Fathom, etc. The important part is putting the tracking in place so that you have the data later when you need it (and you don’t have to bring donuts to 6 am customer support meetings to bribe your way to information).
Why You Want to Track Growth
If you track growth properly (and proactively), you can tackle growth in a more linear and certain way—and not lose confidence.
If you send out an email campaign and don’t know who’s opening it, or if anyone’s clicking on it, it’s really hard to know if you keep going with that message and call to action, or if you change course.
And if you change course, are you still making progress toward your end goal? Having the data allows you to map a path and then track your progress on the way there. And if any point on the path has to change, you have mile markers to keep your trajectory to your desired destination.
We Can Help!
Ready to bust the uncertainty of growth and make more profitable decisions based on facts, not feelings? We can help. Our analytics and reporting service, Insight Pro, properly sets up metrics in your business and serves them up so you can make decisions based on the information that matters to your success. And when you can properly track metrics, you can properly track growth as well.