Sometimes running a business can feel a little bit like a guessing game. What’s working? What’s broken? What is most important to fix NOW? What can wait until later?
Most direct sellers and network marketers don’t have a formal degree in business… most likely you started your business for a love of people, not a passion for metrics. As a result, things like tracking metrics seem very overwhelming. It definitely did for me, especially when I first started Anchor Design Co.!
But the truth is, you can’t just rely on your gut when it comes to making business decisions. Sometimes you need the numbers to back it up or guide you when you have no idea where to start!
On today’s episode, I chat with Nicole Boucher, Operations and Business Manager as well as one half of Pixie Dust and Profits, a podcast that takes case studies from Disney and applies them to small business. Nicole is an expert at all things on the numbers side of business, and she joined me to talk more about where people can get started with tracking metrics.
At the end of this episode, you’ll walk away feeling more at peace with metrics. Once you see that numbers don’t have to be scary, you’ll be able to identify some of the metrics you can start tracking today so you have the data you need to make important decisions about the future of your business!
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019. The Metrics Your Really Need with Nicole Boucher
[0:58] Hello hello and welcome back to another episode of the build it like a business podcast I'm so glad you're here today and I cannot wait for you to listen in to my conversation with. Nicole Boucher Nicole's and operations and business manager and she is an absolute expert when it comes to all things on the business side of your business there's so many people teaching marketing there's so many people teaching mindset and Nicole's here to really show you how you can deal with the numbers side of your business so that you don't have to feel afraid of the numbers you don't have to feel overwhelmed by the Numbers my goal for you by the end of this episode is to leave you feeling more at he's with the metrics that you should be tracking in your business so that you can start using them to help influence your decisions and really start using data to make decisions about what you're going to be doing in your business so without further Ado here is my interview with Nicole Boucher hey Nicole thank you so much for being here with me today I'm so excited to have you as a guest on the build it like a business podcast.
[2:02] I am super excited to be here and talk metrics with you because I feel like it's a pretty boring topic I get really jazzed about it so hopefully I can make it fun for everybody. Yes absolutely you've done that for me I am like one of those people who is a self-proclaimed not a numbers person so you have helped me tremendously and I know that this is going to do the same for so many people who are listening to this episode.
[2:28] I'm so excited to be here can you introduce yourself to my audience and share a little bit about who you are and what you do.
[2:36] Sure I'm Nicole Boucher and I have a Consulting business where I help people with strategy and operations and really with growing and scaling their business. And my background is in process Improvement operations management I worked in corporate for years and all of this is probably like okay what does that even mean right so essentially I come in and I help people find like what products are profitable what processes are actually.
[3:06] Really helpful to the customer experience and customer experience is probably the number one thing to me is that if you have a business your customers should be number one everything you do should revolve around them not to the point that you're you know not having boundaries for yourself as a business owner or anything like that but. At least considering their needs when you're creating products or when you're delivering services and so I come in and really help these businesses who.
[3:33] You know kind of accidentally stumbled into having a business they had a product or they had an idea or. You know they just kind of started selling somehow and they're not business people they don't have an MBA like I do they don't. They don't have that experience of running a small business and so I come in and help them stop being the only person doing everything in their business. And kind of build that team or build things that make more sense streamline this spaghetti on the wall I guess so that's what I do and then on the side I have this really fun podcast of my own called pixie dust in profits and. It's where me and my Fairy Godmother and my business Fairy Godmother combine and we just take case studies from Disney so I might have a couple of those in here all the talk but we take case studies for how busy Disney yeah how Disney handles like the customer experience and their operations and then we just kind of bring it down to the level of like what can we do as solo business owners a small business owners.
[4:38] To incorporate some of these ideas into our own and so that's pixie dust and profits and we have a lot of fun doing that. Yes I can attest to pixie dust in profits podcast is so good it's like just chatting with friends because it's so casual and you're so down to earth and it's one of my favorite podcast listen to so right off the bat everyone needs to go it since you're in the podcast app already listening to this go look them up and give them a follow. I love what you said Nicole about helping people who sort of stumbled into selling something stumbled into having a business because that is very much my.
[5:13] I know I have quite a few women who are online business owners who listen this podcast and follow me on Instagram and all that but. I started out serving women in direct sales and that's a primary part of my audience and that is their story is they stumbled into having a business you know they attended a party for a friend or someone was like you know I know you're trying to make some extra money you want to give this a shot and now they have a business and they're like I love connecting with people but gosh what do I do behind the scenes when I'm not with the people that I love connecting with so. This is such a relevant conversation and I love that you brought that up yourself because. If nothing else everyone is listening you're not alone a lot of people feel that way like you stumbled in and are just sort of figuring it out now so.
[5:58] Hopefully this can ease your mind even the people who come in having business skills and I mean I've worked with people who have mbas and they still feel like you know even though we went to school for business we didn't there's no entrepreneur 101 yes class in business school there isn't we learned things like negotiation and really the biggest thing that came out of my educational background was group projects we would take. You know for people in a group every single MBA course was a group project where you had to actually do like a case study from one of the companies you worked at. And and take it and flip it on its head and analyze every little piece of it and come out with a better solution so. I feel like a lot of the business skills are the fuzzy side the organizational behavior like how people interact with each other and yeah when you stumble into business like this.
[6:52] There's sometimes you're so caught up and I need to create the new product or I need to go chase the sale that.
[7:00] And the hustle culture right now it just doesn't promote taking time to stop so down look at what's going on in your business and use that to make decision so I'm kind of getting into the metrics now but like the thing that I love about metrics is that.
[7:16] Essentially it's just helping you make Better Business decisions because you don't always want to rely on your gut and when you are to telling yourself this narrative like I don't I don't know business or I never gone to school for this how am I supposed to know what's the right decision like you don't need to and even people who have gone to school for it don't know the right decision because every single business is different and every single person. Goal is different and their metrics are different so you need to be able to understand and look at these numbers. And use them to make the decisions that are right for you and great for your customers and your business and your goals.
[7:53] Yeah absolutely and it's so refreshing to hear that it's not just you know it's everybody feels this way at some point or another even the pros we've all felt that way and wondered about the numbers and what to do so let's roll it back for a second can you talk about what a metric is and what that really means like what are we talking about yeah I think I kind of just alluded to it so yeah but I consider a metric like any piece of data that helps you get a pulse on where your businesses right now and helps you make the decisions that will move your business to the next step and the next step could mean more revenue or I mean working less than your business whatever the next step. For you but I just see a metric as any data point whether it's an actual figure or a feeling because those count that helps you decide where your business is right now and it's kind of like a litmus test right where is my business and where is it moving toward.
[8:53] Yeah and I think a lot of times we sort of fall into focusing on just the feelings of our gut instincts because that's what we relied on to get us here right especially if we are in a position where we weren't necessarily growing up saying I want to be a business owner I'm going to go to. For business like we relied on a gut feeling that said hey I think I can do this I think I can make.
[9:12] And so we fall into this habit of relying on just the gut feelings but we've got to mix the numbers into. And then when we do mix the numbers in not get so focused on those that we stopped listening to our gut so it really is kind of a balance between the two. Can you talk about how you figure out what is actually an important metric to track like what's worth looking at how you determine what we should actually be paying attention to.
[9:40] Yeah so I actually have a metrics Challenge and we'll link that in the show notes and this is really if you're starting at 0 it's really takes you through here are some of the things that you should be tracking and simplify as it for you so it doesn't feel like. Here log everything so I think tracking your marketing efforts whatever that means for your business because important right and so if you're a service provider that might be how many referrals do I get how many people have filled out a contact Form. If your Ecommerce your marketing data might be like how much am I spending on ads or how much time am I spending on social media and is that actually converting to a sale so some of those things the other one is time. And this is your own time that you spend on the business also your team members time if you do have any but that's a really important metric to track that I think.
[10:33] Especially when you're starting out and you keep absorbing this like hustle of mine said that you think you have to be working non-stop and so this metrics challenge walks you kind of threw like hey let's do a little bit of a Time study let's figure out what we're doing whether time every day.
[10:49] And which of those activities are actually leading to something that's worth doing something that generates revenue or maybe you know off loads things from your plate to give to somebody else and so marketing. Time and then I still say like measuring the feelings like putting some thoughts around those those gut feelings you have for your business because your business especially if you're a micro business owner small business owner is not going to be successful if you're not jazzed up about it in some way and so I do think it's important to stop and take a pulse on that but I also if you do have a team it involves their feelings to what are you doing to increase morale to build a team culture to make sure that you're taking care of employees or contractors that you have and in your setting it's probably more of like the downstream all of your team leads like how what do you do to make sure you have a little culture that's different from The Wider culture that you know has them jazzed-up to be working with you and for you and I think that's an important pulse to take in your business just because.
[11:53] If your employees are treated well they're going to stay and do a good job and they're going to like really be passionate about helping your customers and then also about you know recognizing things that could change in your business are helping you going that extra mile and I think it's really important especially if you're in the business of like women supporting other women right like you have to lead that you do the thing that you want everyone else to do so those are important and then of course money.
[12:19] My name is Eric like revenue is like obvious right let me check the revenue but I think sometimes. Whether feelings get in the way or what but we need to look at our expenses and be honest with ourselves about some of the things that we're investing and and one of my favorite exercises is the five wise and it's just looking at something and saying. Why am I spending this much on that.
[12:45] Why why and just keep asking why until you can't get an answer anymore and if you have kids you've probably done this with him why are you doing that well why why did you think that was a good yeah and so like kind of doing that with your expenses right so.
[13:00] You know if there's a piece of software you're paying for cycle why did I start this so it was because it was on a limited-time offer for Black Friday that's why I bought it yeah why was it important then why are you even using it like starting to question some of those things because you can find Time Savings but he can also find it in the savings and expenses and yeah so tracking money and not just from a revenue standpoint but also from a standpoint of like.
[13:27] What am I spending and where is it going can be really helpful so those are the four things and if you do the metrics challenge it walks you through like very simple examples to get you started with it so I think it's really important whether you're you've been in business for a month or three years that you start tracking even if the first number you write down is 0 yeah you're gonna need this data eventually and it's going to be really helpful if you start today. And it doesn't have to be complex it can be a zero on the piece of paper and then a year from now you'll go back and look at wow. I had zero people on my email list and now I have 250 and that might not seem like a lot but the first 250 is like a really hard Milestone because when you hit 100 on your email list your like my goodness a hundred people actually want to hear from me and I think it's really important to just know your business intimately like this and that's really what your role is as the owner and the CEO right at some point you want to get to this level where. You have people working for you the day-to-day is taken care of and then your job of as the CEO is to be the Visionary the future anchor the one that's looking at these things and looking for Trends looking for possibilities for the future and so training yourself now when it's add a zero is just going to mean it's part of your routine when you get to that point in business that it becomes a more important deal.
[14:54] Yeah I love what you said sort of in the middle of that where you were saying like especially if you're in the business of leading other women. About how you need to be the leader you need to actually lead and something that I often will say this is like a fun quote that I've shared in my Facebook group on a regular basis anyone who's listening is also in that group will know that I always say be the person that you want on your team like. Like especially direct sales your recruiting right you're like bringing people on to your team while until you. Are the person that you actually want to bring onto your team you're going to struggle to find that person so this seems like a good way to start to be the person who's following through on tracking who's asking the right questions who's really paying attention when you become that person you're going to start to see that in other people you're going to start bringing the right people on to your team right and then when you do that you are modeling to them like.
[15:48] First of all there's a whole narrative about women not being great at math which is this know if you spend the time with it it's just like reading a book and it will come naturally to you if you're starting at the zero point right like just devote a little bit of time to it and it's really not about the numbers or the formulas or anything like that it's really just the slowing down the looking at it that making sure you and about how those numbers were equally to the customer or the sale or the you know the revenue number at the end and when you're doing that people value honesty and integrity to come to people and say like hey this month we added 22 people to the team. Or this month we added seven it makes them feel more confident in their own business because then they're like oh I only had it three this month and I thought something was wrong but it looks like other people have a slow month to maybe something's going on in the industry and so it starts making them think about things in a different way than just internalizing that.
[16:48] I'm feeling I didn't do great this month like no look at the numbers in the industry look at it overall there's always a summer slow down. And so you know when you can start tracking that data there's so much power and confidence you can get out of it because next year when you go back and look at last year you're going to say oh wow I got a lot less referrals in June July and August but then September came and everything kind of went crazy and you can start planning ahead yeah and be like okay I'm going to take my vacation in July and then I'm going to set aside time and September to serve those people who are going to come and so you can start looking for patterns and then. How much easier is it to like plan your day or plan your business when the numbers are just right there telling you okay well yeah we got busy. The numbers don't lie you can look at them and pull information that can influence everything that you're doing and that was a game-changer because it changed the way I was thinking about numbers they weren't this scary thing of that.
[17:45] I wasn't good at it was just about putting them all in one place and then just looking at them and watching for a pattern and it it for me has almost always up until probably this past year has always just been a spreadsheet like it Sportsman very simple very basic because that made it less scary and you know what I got the right information from it it didn't have to be this big overwhelming thing that I was trying to turn it into it just needed to be. In a row so I could see where the patterns were so I could look back a year from now after a year of saying why am I tracking this like I don't really know what to do with this yet and I could look back and say.
[18:22] Oh there it is that's the information that I needed this whole time it's right there and I can see it because I actually wrote it down somewhere actually put it down somewhere.
[18:32] Yeah exactly I mean you're going to start by writing those zeros down and you're going to feel like why am I even doing this I don't this is telling me nothing right and so. I like to give the guideline of doing it for at least three months so then you can start to see Trends because obviously if you take two months and average them out is. It's just a random number right and you need a little bit more than that but if you do it over like three months start building that routine of doing it and then it just becomes like the first day of the month go back and take last month's numbers and. Put them in I actually use a spreadsheet I use a spreadsheet for all my clients yes I love my dashboards of my reports but it's really hard when you're working with entrepreneurs who use so many different systems and tools and.
[19:18] All these things to get a dashboard that reports everything you know Everett life there's one system and you can pull all the data from the same Fredo dashboards really natural there. A spreadsheet works just fine and it is something you can Outsource to a junior team member to do you know saying like hey I need you to go into Google analytics and pull how many page views were on the blog this month yeah whatever it might be and so they can do that on the first of every month and I generally recommend like give it three months and you'll start to see some some things that make you just ask why why is this happening like what's going on here um and just it'll become a routine and the good thing about data is that most things they these things you can go back in time so you can get full like your revenue or sales report for the last six months so if you really wanted to you could start with six months of data instead of starting from today yeah I did a recent podcast episode where I was just talking about like quick tips to spring clean your business like things to look at as we're going into the change of seasons and the last thing that I said in that episode was to look at your money and just find five five Mentor just pick five pick the five that are going to make a big difference for you and just put them in a spreadsheet and go look back and even if it was a zero write it down. No matter what it was get it on paper there and then once a month just go and update it doesn't have to be big and complicated.
[20:41] Our corporate jobs where we did have those dashboards like they have someone custom making that for them no one expects a small business to do that so don't compare yourself to what these other big businesses are doing because we're really like a whole different it's a whole different ballgame we don't we can't expect to have these like giant systems that do it all for us. And with that we can also simplify it we don't have to be tracking 10,000 different things right I always start with the goal. Like always just starting with the goal and what is it that you want to know what questions would you ask when you're considering like what this new product may be or what you want to promote next month even so you mean you can look at this and go into historical and say oh you know mascara was doing great. At this time of year last year right and so then you know what you're going to talk about for next month and so if you're tracking like which product category is selling best right now. That's it that says so much more than when you go onto Instagram and you scroll through and people are like I had a six-figure month well what does that even mean yeah right like what is that it is that important to you and your business or is it more important for you to know okay how many people asked me for this type of service versus that type of service how many people signed up for anchor card versus my other products right and so.
[22:00] Is make the data work for the information you want to know. I was just writing I'm writing down like little notes because you keep talking dropping these golden nuggets here so you mentioned like this example of O mascara is doing well last month and that immediately made me think okay we're going into the summer and to continue with this example of like the beauty industry right so this is where you can start with your gut like you might not have a specific number to start with so you can say okay what do I think probably is going to do well in the summer okay well we've got summer products like anything with SPF anything that if we're talking about beauty products here right like anything that is bronzing going to give you that summer glow like you can use your gut to figure out. Now that I'm ready to start tracking my metrics and start tracking the data.
[22:48] What am I going to start with and that's where you can say what do I think is going to do well in the summer what's going to do well in the winter whatever it is and start there and that can be your first place that you start and then you can grow from there and start using the numbers that you're seeing over the next couple of months as we go into the summer to influence all right what am I going to do going into the fall and then what am I going to do going into the winter so you can start with your gut. And then.
[23:12] That will sort of lead into those numbers and then you also mentioned this is such a good Segway you mentioned like oh Ed a six-figure month or six figures a year in like what does that actually mean and so I want to take a minute to talk about vanity metrics and. What those are and then let's talk about why they're actually pretty dangerous so. Can you talk about what is a vanity metric and maybe some examples of what that could be yeah so I consider a vanity metric is something that really has no meaning so it's just something that can be really easily manipulated or the context isn't there it can be misconstrued. And it's something that's just it's. It's not aligned to the knowledge you need right and so something like an Instagram followers like how many Instagram followers do I have. Or how many team members do I have in my unit and. Those can be vanity metrics because they don't give you the whole picture but they're trying to sell a certain perception of your worth or value or the scale of your business. And so if you're saying you know.
[24:18] You're trying to grow yourself as a team lead and you're looking over here and someone else to say I have 500 people under me well how many of them are active how many of them made a sale last month and so when you're looking at those things and you start internalizing especially as women you start internalizing oh I my business isn't doing well because so-and-so over here has so many more people and the reality is you could actually be doing better you could your Revenue could be lower but your expenses could also be lower so your your profit margin is so much better and so you could have people who are engaged every single day commenting on your posts. Or you can have people who have a million Instagram followers and they get a couple of likes and that don't have any comments and. So I think vanity metrics I'm not saying you shouldn't track how many Instagram followers you have or how many team members you have. But I think that they can do such a dangerous thing in the industry when we focus on them too much and we're not actually thinking about like why does this number matter does it reflect my goals so if your goals right now are hey I noticed that when.
[25:26] I have Instagram followers and I talked about my course I get more purchases. Great so now you have a reason to say that you want more Instagram followers right because people seem to connect with you there that they're really like watching your stories they're commenting they're buying your course. Great so now it makes sense for you to track that number how many Instagram followers do I have how many clicks to profile do I get what's the top thing they click on when they do click on that profile like. All great information but if you're just tracking Instagram followers to say I have a million Instagram followers and they don't actually purchase anything from you because you don't have any mechanism in place to get them from follower to purchase her.
[26:11] That number really means nothing so again it goes back to like what are your goals in the business and what are you trying to do. Yeah I love this idea of going back to your goals like what is it you're actually trying to do if you're trying to get a sale okay well does this number that you're looking at these Instagram followers or comments or whatever it is does that actually.
[26:32] Making money does that actually influence getting the sale and then something that I wanted to point out was.
[26:38] Especially in direct sales thinking about your goals separate from your company's goals because you have to remember that as a direct seller you are buying wholesale products from a company who has their own metrics to track and that doesn't mean anything bad like they should have their own metrics to track anyone who thinks that their direct sales company doesn't have their own goal in Quota is. Little bit blind to what's actually going on because they too are a business just like you are so they should absolutely have a quota for how many reps they want to have how many products they want you to buy as the rep that's totally normal and there's nothing wrong with that but that means that you also have to be willing to separate yourself from your company when you're thinking about your goals so if they are saying. You know we're going to measure how much sales the company is doing or how many sales the sales force is doing by saying you're the queen of sales or a number one in in sales or Whatever It Is Well that's that's a measure for them to help measure their metrics but you making it to number one in sales does not necessarily mean that you're making money because let's imagine this if you're buying your products at 50% off and your then yeah you're buying the 50% off your retail price at your wholesale price is half of the retail price.
[28:00] But then you're selling them at a discount of 50% off so that you can reach the number faster well that means that your company hit their goal and you didn't hit yours which is to have some profit and actually have a business that supports your life so you've got to separate.
[28:15] Your goals and the numbers that help you reach those goals and track those goals from the goals that your company is setting and that comes down to. I think asking the why question like you said Nicole like why am I trying to do is why am I trying to be number one in sales and then maybe adding like how am I actually getting to number one in sales am I doing it by selling my products at a loss well that's not going to make you any money and you're going to get burnt out and exhausted though cmap and yeah and if you start tracking that. Then you will see oh I'm he lost this month you know if you're tracking nothing what will happen is you'll get to probably tax time yeah and if you have an accountant or TurboTax whatever you use you're going to be like oh my goodness like did I make you happy and you know. Or be surprised by your quarterly tax amount so you know it goes either way often for small business owners and so I think just starting to track that can be so powerful because you can say we don't like I spent this much on product and I only brought in this Munch and that also helps you play around with like what percent discount you want to offer or how you want to bundle things or you know just giving you the permission to say you know this is a bigger company goals but you have your own little company here and you know it's interesting because like you might have a company that's based out of like New England versus California like the types of products people buy and the types of ways they engage with you were going to be completely different and so it's okay to kind of.
[29:43] You know Veer off course a little bit if you're looking at terms of like okay my year goal is to be number one how do I get there instead of like in a month goal. Yeah I think you need to just be willing to separate yourself a little bit like look the other way. Don't track your companies metrics for a while just focus on yours and I think that with this past year of everything being online there's not in-person event so I remember when I was in direct sales.
[30:11] There were there was a big company event every summer and it was a lot of fun like it was a great event and you know people would walk across stage you get to cheer everyone on is high-energy it's a really great time. However.
[30:24] It's easy to get caught up on wanting to walk across stage and that that that itself can be a vanity metric very easily because to get to walk across stage you have to hit a number the company's number and there are two ways you can do that one that makes you profit one that doesn't make you profit My Hope Is that having a year of not having these in person events.
[30:47] Has given everyone a chance to step back and not value the stage as much not value those company numbers as much because they've they've really had to be. In their own business looking at their own numbers and looking at what it really means for them so I hope that that's a silver lining that came out of this past year of not having those those in-person events.
[31:10] And you kind of talked about this a little bit earlier but when we're thinking about the metrics that were tracking can you just reiterate how long do you think we should be tracking something before we really have enough data to actually make a decision to know what's going on and get a pulse on. What really matters I mean it really depends what it is so there are times where you're going to just start tracking your data and you're going to immediately notice that number her right you're going to look at it and just know immediately in your gut that something needs to change their right away or in the very recent future and so but I would say like three months is a good amount of time to get some tracking data to get a feel for okay this is about how much you bring in a month and this is usually what our most popular product is and some of that information because if you try and just do a 2 months you can't really see a trend write it one month is so different from another I mean January has a different feel of like everyone getting into the new year swing versus February where everyone's kind of like okay it's still winter I don't have time for this yo and so once you get to March you can see okay you can start seeing the swings of things but yes sometimes you might just start tracking data and realize.
[32:23] Oh my God I didn't realize I was working 87 hours a week yeah I'm immediately say okay that can't keep happening you might know in the back of your head but then when you actually do the exercise of writing down the time you spend on each thing and you see that number in front of you it's going to smack you in the face and tell you.
[32:42] Yeah I think that sometimes the number is can sort of prove or disprove your gut feeling like you might be sitting at the end of the week going oh my God I feel like I did a million things and.
[32:54] I didn't have any time for myself but you don't really listen until you see the numbers in front of you saying yeah you literally did work 80 and 80 hour week and then also knowing what you're doing with that time and saying okay did I work in 87 hour week with. 87 productive income-producing hours or was it like 10 income-producing hours and then 77 shiny object hours Ram Is Not Making Waves in my business at all exactly yeah.
[33:24] So do you think there are any metrics that people often forget to track that baby they should be paying a little bit closer attention to or actually noticing.
[33:35] Absolutely I mean I feel like some of these get into maybe more of the playing with the numbers in the formula realm of things but. I just start with tracking build that have it build that routine but then you're going to start wondering questions right when you start getting comfortable with what you see in front of you you're going to start asking more questions and that's where you can start getting at the deeper data. And so for example my e-commerce clients we like to look at our abandoned cart recovery. So if you're sitting here focusing on what's my Revenue how many orders have come through this month you know how many people came in from whatever marketing channel. But you're ignoring you know how many people put something in their car and then came back to buy again later. That's a huge amount of potential Revenue you're leaving on the table and once you start tracking that you can say oh wow you know only 2% of. Come back maybe I need to offer them a coupon code to get them to finally check out that cart or maybe I need to remind them that. You know Pottery Barn rewards are expiring or whatever it is right and so we can see so many examples of this and we know how we operate right we are in bed we throw something in the car we don't have a credit card next to us we don't buy it on there. And then we forget about it because it's not a priority and we're busy with work and life and Mom.
[34:54] Cleaning the house and all of these things and then we go lay down in bed again and it pops into our head that we forgot to buy you know whatever and so that's why we have abandoned cart emails to remind us to come back so like that's something that you could be tracking. And you don't even know that you're leaving money on the table and then once you start tracking it you can Implement a couple things has to see if it works and see that number go up. If you're not tracking it at all you're never going to see that number go up and you're just going to continue leaving money on the table yeah so. There's that there's also like repeat customers who comes back if you're a service provider like how long has someone how long have your clients on average worked with you. And that's really powerful data to know too because if you have very long term relationships with clients. And someone comes in as a referral and says you know I want to work together you can know well you know I don't think I'll have an opening anytime soon because they typically work with someone for six months or two years or whatever it is and that's powerful to you to know because if your time is in demand but you don't have any available maybe you should raise your rates a little bit because other people are willing to pay and so just thinking about some of these things in a different way I think some other things could be.
[36:13] In for any industry really like when do people drop off so when they become an email subscriber when at what point did they decide on subscribing how long does it take for them to make a purchase and some of these are Advanced metrics so I don't want you to get scared by like I don't even know how I would get to that number.
[36:32] Start with finding out you know I have this many email subscribers I send this many emails. And then you can start getting into later on how is this number changing how is it going up and down and when do they usually leave because then you can say oh. I say this number right here that showing that people tend to you know be here for two weeks and then they leave. What may be in that two-week period you need to send them two or three emails and give them a promo code or something like that and so I think that.
[37:03] Knowing the goals and just regularly looking at the data you'll start asking questions about the dick I stopped being about what the number is and more about what it means and where you can find Opportunities. Yeah oh my gosh I every episode that I do an interview I always mentioned this sticky note thing that I do where I have like quotes that people have said or reminders that I need and I think that's going to be one that goes on my wall of sticky notes of. Stop being about what the number is and start being about what the number means that is like pure.
[37:34] Gold right there you don't have to make that an Instagram caption yeah seriously I like that you were mentioning that some of these are Advanced metrics to and pointing that out and as you were saying that I was thinking to myself like. These are really exciting like I'm super interested in these Advanced metrics and then I realized.
[37:53] Other people who are listening might be excited by those two and then feel a little bit overwhelmed by this idea of oh yeah those things sound really interesting I'd love to know those numbers.
[38:04] Wait a minute I have nowhere to start and I want to just say like this is why you have to start by tracking the 0 by tracking the I have no email subscribers and I have five and then I have 10 you've got to have those basic numbers in place so that when you do get excited about those Advanced numbers you feel ready for them you have something to jump off of you can actually go and start tracking them and it might be extremely manual in the beginning so for example have a client who has like a 14-day any reason refund policy and it's really great for her but how do we quantify if that's leading to more sales or a are people buying because I feel more trust in the brand.
[38:42] Really hard to quantify yeah but what we can do is we can log every time someone requests a refund and what they do so sometimes they request a refund because they actually wanted a different product. Great so that's just an exchange and then there are people who do a refund so they can buy a bundle that includes multiple problems including the one they originally bought. Great even better because in our making more money but it started out as us just logging every time someone asked a refund it could be really easy to get an email in your inbox asking for a refund and just going to stripe or PayPal or wherever they paid from and clicking the refund button and that's it if you're not tracking that anywhere that's valuable data because now I'm at the point with that company where I can say we had X number of refunds this month. This is how much we the amount that we refunded and this is the refund percentage as a percent of sales so we know like it might feel like oh my gosh a thousand dollars went out this month and refunds it did we do something wrong or products not working anymore you can start getting into this really dangerous narrative about questioning her business and your.
[39:49] But when I put it up against what the revenue was for the month I can say oh we had given back a thousand dollars but it was only two point five percent of sales a two percent refund rate isn't that bad when you start thinking about people buy a T-shirt and then bring it back to the store right and so you know if that number were twenty percent of sales okay hold up.
[40:10] And the other thing that that data did that was super awesome was because we manually tract what they were returning we could go back and see that one particular product was being returned more than others and when we went back in like our 6-month review and saw that we went to the product we tried to figure out okay why one of the reasons they gave for this return we updated the product.
[40:32] You know Brought The Branding up to the year of the printout we have now and we lowered the price of tiny bit just because of what it was we have not had a single return since we did that. That's so interesting and if we never tracked it we would have had no idea and now not only is it not getting return it's a small entry level thing it gives them a better taste of what the rest of the products we offer yeah we're going to be like and so when they're satisfied with that small little product or with a refund policy or whatever it is they come back and now look are returning customer metric is going higher or our average cart value is going higher and so again these are Advanced metrics but it started with two years ago. Logging every single return that Cannon what the product was how much it was and what their reason for return was.
[41:23] Oh my gosh it's so interesting to like see the spiderweb unfold of this one thing that you're like I think we should probably look at this and probably didn't know exactly what you do with it at the time. And then what that ended up leading to in the future the that's not proof that you've got to start looking at the numbers I don't know what is and you mentioned how you took this one metric that you are tracking you notice that there was something negative going on and then you implemented a few things to try and fix it and then you are able to see results can you talk about. When you're implementing a fix.
[41:59] Do you change just one thing do you change a couple things at a time like what is that look like it's a knowing science it's like one variable like change one thing and then don't touch anything else but is that true here as well.
[42:11] I could probably do an entire other podcast episode about the process for this okay my background is in lean Six Sigma and so there are tools to help you do this and I will be talking about one of them very soon so follow me on Instagram and Boucher 214 will put that in the show notes because my last name is the spell but so one of my favorite things is the why exercise I gave earlier there's also what we call the fishbone diagram where you kind of look at people process. Systems there's all these different categories and so what you can do as you can.
[42:46] In my case download that product that was getting returned take a look at it and say okay we've got this data from our refunds and they're saying you know.
[42:56] It's not long enough or it wasn't what I expected and when you start seeing the same things pop up in this customer feedback you can say okay well maybe the product description page. Isn't accurate to what the product is and so basically it is another data process but it's more qualitative. Then quantitative and it's about the words that people are reusing so if you take the yyy approach or you take the fishbone approach where you're looking at okay what are their comments about this product when it comes to the system that delivers it. And we noticed. People didn't really have a problem with that so the download feature the getting it in their inbox super easy no problems it wasn't going to their spam so we knew we didn't need to touch that. But then we saw all the comments come through about like it wasn't what I expected or I thought it was going to be this it just kind of started showing the kuo maybe the product description page isn't totally accurate to what they're getting let's let's reconcile those two things and then when you start looking at. The price that it was you'd start seeing people saying you know I can find these things for free somewhere or whatever make so then you start like evaluating will you know. Three years ago when this product was introduced maybe this price made sounds but the market has changed maybe we need to look at that and so yes the scientific method is to only change one variable at a time I'm always talking to my six-year-old about this but.
[44:19] In business I think if you're getting this data and looking at it as objectively as you can and you kind of categorize things together you can start to see okay there's certain areas that need to be looked into I ran into this conversation recently where someone had you know hired a Facebook ads agency to help them grow and scale and they were evaluating if this ad the agency was doing anything good for them and if they were worth the return on investment and so you know their knee-jerk reaction was I'm not making as much as they was so they must be bad and I said well you know what happened well we change the landing page we change this we changed all these things so well then you need to start. Piecing the data out and segments right so what's the first segment the ad are people clicking the add yes or no. If they aren't clicking it the ad copy is probably good the pictures probably good the headlines really good if they then get to your page and they're not putting their email address in to buy something or you know take whatever freebie you're giving them. Then there's probably a breakdown on that page yeah but if they are putting their email address in that page is probably fine so it's kind of just breaking everything down into.
[45:39] I think the customer Journey segment right so the first is what is the customer do here okay they got to look at the ad what happens after they look at that like what Behavior are they taking and break the information that you can find into those Behavior action taking points and so this is like super Advanced metrics and I think that you need to look at what's being said or what the numbers are telling you or that gut feeling you have to go investigate and figure out okay the behavior and action that is taken where is the breakdown happening and there could be multiple ones and one of them might be a quick thing to solve like I can change the price in 32 seconds like I dunno into Shopify change you know from $10 to seven dollars.
[46:25] But you know the thing where we had to actually read the book and go to the. Description page and see how they are being talked about that took a little bit longer so there's you're going to come to these things and find out okay there's multiple things that might need to change one's immediate one takes more time and then you have to make a decision like do I have the business resources right now to do this does it make sense should I just discontinue the product but at least you have the data to help you figure out is this something that's fixable or is it not yeah absolutely and I just this is just I have no other comments on this particular comment that I'm going to make other than I love that you're talking your six-year-old about the scientific process it's amazing there's there's a chain of books I was here parent out there they're called Zoey and Sassafras and there are series of books and it this little girl who uses the scientific method to help magical animals get over ailments like have also and she figures out like how to get the mold off therefore by using like vinegar and. All sorts of stuff it's really super cute story it's like women empowering science scientific method so I have a little boy and it's all of my ale to talk about these things with that's awesome that's amazing okay so packed I just had to comment on that because like that's so good okay back to metrics so all right with all of that.
[47:52] How how how how do we actually set expectations for ourselves. Of what progress actually is because this is something that I struggle with consistently to this day is I will either completely go under what my goal should because it's safe and I don't want to like feel bad if I don't meet the goal or I way over shoot it because I'm like I don't care like I just that's the number I need I have no idea who made get there but I need to figure it out because that's what I want right now. So how do we set some reasonable expectations. There's two facets so the first sign is to make sure that your goals are actually the right goals and I have a kick shiny object syndrome to the kind of book that can help you just figure out like am I even working in the right realm so. I mean you could be in a state of your business where you are like I want to hit a million dollars in Revenue.
[48:53] But you have to spend expenses on employees and team members to get there and so sometimes the actions you have to take don't align with the goals that you're saying and so I think taking some time to think about. What are the priorities in my business for the next. Three to six months is really important because you may have to like when we choose these arbitrary goals like I want to make ten thousand dollars. Okay but. Nobody knows who you are so maybe your goal should be let me go put five business cards and mailboxes or call three people or email my family and friends to tell them what I'm doing right now right and so.
[49:33] I think it's really easy to just throw a number out there and say that's my goal and it's a lot harder to stop and think like well maybe my goal should be more about pushing myself to be more extroverted or find the sale or stop working 90 hours a week or whatever it may be so I think reasonable exercise expectations start first with.
[49:57] Making sure the number or the goal you're choosing is actually the right one and it's not just someone else's goal I think that you fall into this. Trap of seeing what other people are putting out on social media especially about how they're doing and again this gets into the vanity metric stuff where you don't actually know the behind-the-scenes you don't know what filter they're putting over that information that they're sharing and.
[50:25] So you kind of absorb all that's their goal and I see myself like them so I'm going to make that my goal or I'm going to have that and make that my goal for this year and. I think that's just the way you need to start and then the other thing is.
[50:39] Maybe question if you even need to set a number goal right like think about how you want to feel and it's so funny for me because I am the analytics data metrics person but I think sometimes my goal for my business is to be able to afford my mortgage I recently was able to secure another property so my disabled parents could move in and retire which they couldn't do before that was a goal and that wasn't a like I need to make X dollars of Revenue I mean that involved saving you know personal finance stuff that needed to happen and but the goal was I want to take care of my parents. And the goal is I want to take a Disney Vacation every year and so it's okay to have those as goals and put those up on your wall versus saying. I need to make ten thousand dollars. Because that's your why it really gets to your why and I'm not always the fuzzy business person but I think it's important and when you're setting those priorities for yourself.
[51:42] Especially small businesses we move so quickly we shift and pivot so much that I think when we. This expectation on our backs we're setting ourselves up for. Just looking at this number and either feeling really good or really bad and why would you want to set yourself up for those feelings. And I mean I just learned so much and being a mom to a six-year-old that constantly talking about like writing is hard I understand let's do a little bit at a time let's take that first step. You know the other day you had an assignment where he had to write about his favorite place in our town.
[52:21] And that's just such a really big concept for a six-year-old even grass they have to think about their favorite place then they have to figure out how they want to explain it and he had to draw a picture of it and he's like I don't even know how to draw that place if there's there's so many things to draw I can't do it. And then you start talking to me like well what's the first step yeah well there's a lake okay let's draw a lake what is it like look like and you know I think sometimes we get so pulled into what's our end view that we lose sight of what's the next two weeks what's the next month and so I would just encourage you to maybe put a little less stock in those numbers I prefer using numbers to help me make decisions not to help motivate me because I don't find that to be a motivating thing. That's another one going on my sticky note wall do not use numbers as the thing that motivates me but as. Just a tool for helping make decisions start with the small start with the lake right how do you tell awake it's like okay well I'm just going to write these numbers down and then Sunday they'll start making sense it'll start to look like something drawing it starts with one line right like you've got to put one line on the paper and if you stop there it doesn't look like anything and No One's Gonna know what you're doing even you but if you just add a second line third line it's going to start to turn into something and then once you've got your leg you'll add your trees and your birds and.
[53:47] It'll keep going on what a great metaphor I love this one what a good good metaphor so okay before we go into some fun just for fun rapid fire questions can you leave us with maybe three to five things that every business owner no matter the size of their business should just start tracking now like. Maybe he's a couple things that someone could take right now and just go put in a spreadsheet and like that can just be their starting yeah so I would track your different product streams or Revenue stream so you can do this if you sell only products by category so for example like. I'm a personal care and. Services or whatever if you do like makeup consultations or something so the products you sell and the services you sell if you have. An e-commerce E-Type shop order number of orders number of inquiries if you're a service provider.
[54:41] Number of people who have booked with you like anything around like how many people have I gotten in the door yeah number of orders that type of thing so these are all the very first level that you can get to just so you can start seeing like I had a hundred orders this month I had 20 orders the next month and then later on you can add on to that so definitely those things around orders and transiency and then the other side expenses I think it's really important to track. Um it doesn't have to be all of them like I'm not asking you to I mean I look at my net income she a every month but like you'll get there right like pick like two or three things that you want to make sure you're not going over your budget on and make sure you're looking at them every month so if you have contractors Maybe. Or how much money you're paying for software in your in your business or how much if you sell products how much you paying for products so those are things I think you should take a look at and. If you have those numbers if you have a revenue and you have the expenses it is really helpful to look at your net income every month so even if it's negative number or if it's zero or anything like that I think it's really good especially as women to get in the habit of tracking that and looking at it and saying okay.
[55:57] This is the ink of my business is bringing it is a business like use it to remind yourself this is a business. This is something that is like going to support my family or myself. And I need to make sure that I'm looking at this to make sure that this isn't a hobby and that I don't treat it like a hobby.
[56:14] Mmm and then the last one is like go ahead and track your social media or how many team members you have if you're in direct sales right go ahead and track how many people are in your Facebook group or your group chat or whatever maybe start tracking those numbers I know I talked about and being vanity metrics early on but it gives you a pulse of okay how many people are in my circle. And what can I do to engage those people in my circle and so I think it's a great place to start I just want to throw it around or keep yourself feeling like oh that person has 20,000 people so I need to be there too I wouldn't get into that side of things I would just use it as let me see how many people are here. So that way I know that I have 50 people I need to serve well and every time I write an email or talk to them like I'm talking to those 50 people and I know they're here and I know they're listening.
[57:05] I love that I love what you mentioned about this is a business not a hobby like use this as a reminder that this is a business because that's really what this podcast is when I was choosing the title for this podcast and anyone who has been following me for a while knows that last year like 2020. I was thinking of starting a podcast and one of the things that actually held me back was figuring out a name for it and I'm kind of grateful that it did because I just feel like this ended up starting at just the right time.
[57:33] And I came up with the name build it like a business because that's really what I want to help people do is help you see your business as a business to treat it like a business that's going to be profitable and actually make you money and that starts with these metrics that starts with knowing what to track and just getting the Baseline down. Look at you so much confidence to know where to Pivot right like if you got this number when I know that sometimes there can be spouses involved who are trying to understand what you're trying to do and talk to them and say like hey I have this data to show yeah this is why I'm making the decision I'm making you just feel so much more confident in saying that what your gut feeling was probably already there but when you can pull something out that reaffirms that gut feeling just thinking about like how much more confidently you'll be showing up in your business because you are confident about it being in the right direction. Yeah yeah it's so true and it all comes down to confidence like is another episode I did where I was talking about. What to look at if you're not getting enough sales and one of the things you need to look at is your confidence like. Are you presenting yourself confidently your product confidently and the same thing happens in the back end of your business if you're not feeling confident about what you're doing.
[58:45] Progress you're making or what you need to adjust and change that's going to reflect everywhere it's going to show up absolutely everywhere.
[58:54] This has been amazing I want to wrap up with a couple of just just for fun rapid fire questions I do these every episode of every one I just love hearing all the different answers so to start I would love to know Nicole what is your favorite Business book. So to be honest since having a kid reading books is really good um I consumed cover to cover Bob Iger who was the former CEO of Disney his book ride of a lifetime okay and I know it was probably ghostwritten but there were so many Leadership Lessons it was one of those books that you just sat there in. Highlighted so many things and I think it was really great and talking to people about how to be a leader in your own business how to lead a team how to steer in a humongous company and the direction for the future by being very intentional and specific about what your goals are so if you struggle with goals it. There's a whole chapter about he was listing all these things he wanted to do and his friend stopped and looked at him and said you can pick three.
[59:59] You know like this is this is like the Panera have amended their okay pick to you can't have all of that. Three and it was just something that I've always talked about with my clients in my marketing and how I approach business and to see someone of that levels just saying like when you simplify when you take all of the things that are like holding people back from their jobs away because you give them a very clear directive like your business simplifying just can bring your business to another level that wasn't possible when you were confused and Scattered it so I love that book and then if like content is your thing I loved they ask you answer it just makes you think about like answer the questions that people are asking you that's what your content needs to be kind of stop making it about yourself so that's a really old one but I remember like devouring him in there.
[1:00:52] Few years ago. Those both sound amazing I will link to them in the show notes because I will be checking them out myself so I'll make sure that links available alright a tool or software that you use in your business that you can't live without.
[1:01:05] Nestle I use a lot but.
[1:01:08] For my business personally Voxer is a walkie-talkie tool and it's not for clients or client work isn't actually my best business tool because it's where I collaborate and connect with my peers so it's like where we can have kind of like a mastermind chat and just like I'm working through this can you help me with that. Just it's kind of the water cooler for me that I that I would have had in my separate life and so for my business specifically that if clients obviously their software and tools that. Make things easier but again like every small business is so different and what they use that the most important thing for one is click up in the most important thing for another is we couldn't live without a zapier but for me myself Voxer in the water cooler aspect of it is just invaluable it helps me feel like even as an introvert that I'm not here doing this alone that there are other people and just having that sounding board to talk about business stuff with so it's invaluable to me and I don't know that I would be as successful been working from home doing this for 6 years now if I didn't have a community yeah isn't it so interesting how this one small app that honestly hasn't even been updated in years like they don't really make progress on like they don't pay a lot of attention to this advancement and it makes but yeah and it makes such a big difference the small thing makes such a big difference and I know that a lot of people who are listening to this are nodding along because.
[1:02:35] At least for the direct sales company that I represented that was a massive like. Crowd favorite like everybody love that so that's cool here okay what is your favorite thing to do to unwind when you're not working I feel like something I talk about often so I love to play video games and it's something that's like still I feel like has a stigma especially as like gold but I play video games and it's really one of the only ways I can shut off my work brain yeah the kids in bed. If I'm not.
[1:03:06] Feeling productive and these are my own feelings to work through like I end up just spinning my wheels and being like I need to be doing something productive right now and I don't like that feeling so when I play video games I used to play with friends. And so we get into Discord and we have our headsets on and we chat with each other while we're just playing whatever we're playing that day and it's really nice because it it's just a social thing and I can't think about work or things I need to do when I'm doing that because I'm so focused on usually their group games so I'm so focused on like supporting the team and the group that I can't think about whatever deliverables due tomorrow so I play video games and it's my outlet and.
[1:03:50] I love it and it's actually really fun now that my kids growing up because I get to play with him a little bit too yeah that's true that's cool that's awesome.
[1:03:59] All right well Nicole this has been amazing and I know that I guarantee that most people who are listening to us are going to want to keep following you so where can they find you online definitely Instagram I post a couple times a day and I post on stories but like just hit me up in the DMS because that's all right I have conversations and I will respond it's actually me I don't have any social media and I just love to chat through things and see what things you're struggling with in your business and you know. It's really helpful for me to stay in touch and understand like I said I've been doing this for 6 years and I work with bigger businesses now but.
[1:04:41] Let me tell you these big businesses have the same exact challenges and struggles that you probably have even if you're just starting out so. It's really fun to just keep that connection to everyone and know what business things like I you don't want your dad to go get an MBA right you don't need to do that I can help you with tools I just need to know where the challenges are so yeah okay good segue here do you have any tools people can go and check out I know that you have a lot I'm asking this as if I don't know but tell us about all the things you have available because you have challenges and trackers and like all kinds of all things yea so I have like three things that I think I had touched on all this conversation so the shiny object word.
[1:05:25] Bug is really to help you figure out like where should I even be working in my business and my favorite part about that is there's a flow chart so if you know how to answer yes or no questions it will kind of guide you to the answer so you don't have to like sit there and you know take a business holiday I figure out what your goal should be right. And so that will link to but the metrics specific I have a metrics challenge it's a five-day thing where it just like slowly everyday kind of teaches you what metrics are which if you've listened to this episode you're probably Way Beyond a day one of that challenge but then it helps you figure out okay let me look at marketing let me look at my time let me look at my happiness let me look at my money and just gets you thinking about metrics and not necessarily in a scary way yeah and then once you finish that challenge but if you want to jump right in you can jump in I have a metrics tracker and that's just a Google sheet we were talking earlier about like it doesn't need to be a complex dashboard you can be a Google sheet so I have a Google sheet that kind of starts you off with like here are some ideas of what to track and it let you put in like a year ago and you can put in every month and then at the end of the column it kind of just doesn't calculations for you to let you know like are you getting close to those goals just so you can like quickly look at them and say oh that one's red maybe I need to focus on that one a little bit more or that one's green I'm crushing it so.
[1:06:48] That those three tools are touched on all throughout here rolling them in the show notes and you know honestly if you start anywhere I think the metrics challenge would probably be the best start because if you're just starting out you don't have anything tracked your no writing those zeros feel scary like that's going to be the easiest like easing you into it trying to make it a routine.
[1:07:10] Yeah I have seen used participated in all three of these things I can attest they're absolutely fantastic and I will link to all of them in the show notes thank you so much for being here today Nicole this is a really awesome conversation I'm so grateful to I just have you share all of your expertise with everyone and I hope everyone will go and give you a follow and download. All of these incredible tools that you have available because they really are fantastic so much for having me.
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Short & sweet episode highlights
What a metric is and how it helps you understand where your business is now and where it’s moving toward
How to complete the 5 Whys exercise to get a handle on your business expenses
Why it’s important to start tracking your numbers, even if they are zero
How long you should be tracking metrics before you have enough data to influence your decisions
Which metrics people often forget to track (that are more important than you think!)
The two most important elements of setting realistic goals that make sense for your business
Four things that every small business owner should start tracking today
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Nicole Boucher is an Operations & Business Manager and co-host of the podcast Pixie Dust & Profits where she gets to geek out on the regular about her favorite things—Disney and business systems! With an English degree, an MBA, and a background in Lean Six Sigma, Nicole helps her clients be more productive and strategic with their time so they can play BIG with their businesses (without the overwhelm).
Her biggest mission in life is to live sustainably—in business, this means pursuing operational excellence and reducing waste so you can get more done, in less time, with fewer errors. You CAN live that life you’ve been dreaming of and systems will help you get there.
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