5 things you should be measuring for business success

Mo Abdelrahman, 5 min read

5 things you should be measuring for business success

My passion is keeping businesses Smart N' Safe. Sometimes we forget that businesses aren't machines; they're entities made up of individuals, each working toward a collective goal. I think it's important to pierce the corporate veil and see through to the people underneath. Call me crazy, but I don't think business success and humanity is a zero-sum game. I believe we can look after our bottom line and the people working with us if we're smart and if we're safe. And being Smart N' Safe, in my experience, requires four things:

  1. Measurement - i.e. how you gain insights into how your business is performing and identify where improvements can be made.
  2. Engagement - i.e. keeping employees interested and committed to your business and goals.
  3. Software - i.e. the digital tools that make it all possible. We are living in a digital world and whether you know it or not, you are a digital company. It's important you've got the tools and skills to make it through the jungle.
  4. Hardware - i.e. the other side of the software coin. It's not enough that we ourselves are smart and safe - our hardware and assets need to be, too. We need to check-in from time-to-time to make sure that the hardware around us is up to snuff.


What I want to talk about today is #1: Measurement. A personal passion of mine.


Why we need measurement


We often take measurement for granted, and forget the important role it plays in our lives.


6+ years of corporate and retail experience as a business development manager in both B2B and B2C spaces has, however, demonstrated to me just how critical measurement is to both business and personal success.


It's become a passion of mine.


Measurement, really, is feedback.


Just as we know something is hot by comparing it to cold, we know we've succeeded or failed by comparing it to past experiences.


But we can't compare if we don't have anything to compare against. That's where measurement comes in. They say that comparison is the thief of joy; I strongly disagree. I believe comparison is the pathway to success.


Nearly all strategic decisions may be effectively made using this formula:

  1. Identify key metric and measure
  2. Introduce strategic decision
  3. Compare metrics pre-decision and post-decision
  4. Use what you've learnt to optimise strategy
  5. Repeat 1-4.


I know this formula works because data-analysis is a billion dollar industry - data is power. There's no map of the future but measurement is our map of the past. No, you can't move forward by looking behind you, but you better make sure to check the rear view and your blind-spots before making a turn.


We also need measurement because our memories are flawed. We often think we know how things went, and what is the best decision based on our past decisions, but more often than not, we're wrong. How many times have you walked into a room and forgotten what you're there for? How many times have you made a decision, only to realise, far too late, that you'd missed a critical detail? When we measure we minimise risk. Nobody's perfect. Instead of kicking yourself for forgetting a critical detail, remove the need to remember in the first place. Measure, analyse, and then make your decisions based on what's before you.

What we should be measuring


Okay, that's all great in theory. We know the benefits of measurement, but by now I'm sure you're thinking, 'But Mo - what exactly should I be measuring??'
Well, the answer, really, depends on what your business goals are. If the goal is to increase customer satisfaction, then the measure might be NPS scores. If the goal is to reduce safety incidents, then the measure might be number of safety incidents per quarter. And that process is yet another benefit of measurement: it forces you to sit down, think about what your goals really are, and what behaviour change will bring those goals to fruition.


BUT to help you out, here are a few metrics that pretty much every business across the board could benefit from measuring:

  1. The business income statement, balance sheet and cash statement - business is all about the bottom line. So it's important to measure exactly where that bottom line is at.
  2. Customer satisfaction - whether it's through NPS or simply asking face-to-face whether a customer was satisfied with your services today, the only way to find out if the service you're offering is good enough, is to ask the people using the service: the customer.
  3. Average new customer intake - Generally, if you're taking on new customers regularly, you can tell you're doing something right. If that average starts to go down, it's time to make a change.
  4. Customer Feedback - It's important not just to measure quantitative metrics like NPS, but also any qualitative feedback you, your business, or your staff receives. Has a customer come in to tell you that they really enjoyed their experience today? Capture that! Find out exactly what they liked so that you can provide that service again and again. (At Yarno we do this via a #customer_feedback Slack channel which you can read about here.)
  5. Staff feedback - the customer is why we're all here, but staff are the reason it's all possible. Capture your staff's feedback too and you'll find business improvements quickly follow. They're the ones working with the product or service day-to-day, I'm sure they've got a few ideas of how to make it the best it could possibly be.

The final step: actually measuring


Once you've worked out your goals and the measure that will show you whether or not you've achieved them, the next step is to get cracking! At Yarno, one of the first things we do when we have a new customer is fill in this formula with them:

Identified metric will increase/decrease X% by DD-MM-YYYY as people DO something!

(It's also called the Cathy Moore Goal template)

Here's a few examples of the formula filled out:

Organisational goal Yarno performance goal
I want to reduce staff turnover Staff turnover will decrease 10% in FY21 as new starters are given key skills and knowledge.
I want to reduce safety incidents Dropped trailers will decrease 50% in FY21 as drivers perform the core coupling checks.
I want to increase the satisfaction of my customers Customer NPS will increase by 5 points in Q3 and Q4 as team members use the customer service framework for customer interactions.

And voila! Now you have a super-straightforward way of knowing whether you're succeeding or not. If at the end of FY21 dropped trailers haven't decreased 50%, you know you need to try another tactic - maybe it's time to implement a safety coach, or maybe the training content needs reviewing.


This formula also sometimes comes up in the context of measuring ROI from training, which you can read about here.

Wrap up


Measurement is the first step in my MESH method series designed to create Smart N' Safe businesses. In the next few weeks I'll be working my way through the next three steps of my method. I've found that in just four steps - Measure, Engage, Software, and Hardware, you can create a safe and productive workforce with no accidents. Talk soon.


Mo Abdelrahman

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