There’s an adage that “the watched pot never boils.” The opposite is true in building any freelance startup. If you don’t set clear goals and track their progress, there’s no way to know when there’s an emerging problem or how to strengthen your business.
The first step is establishing your key performance indicators or KPIs. You need KPIs for the company overall but also for individual projects and campaigns.
Different business models should follow different KPIs, so your metrics will vary from others’. Still, there are plenty of tools that measure startup performance for freelancers and beyond. Depending on your target metrics, try these top tools.
True to its name, SimpleKPI is designed for easy use so it’s perfect for new entrepreneurs. It’s an especially versatile platform too.
SimpleKPI tracks KPIs for marketing strategies like customer acquisition costs (CAC), costs to acquire a new customer, and return on investment. This software also tracks metrics for financial growth, sales, and other key areas of any startup. However, because it’s meant to be easy to use, SimpleKPI doesn’t offer as much customization as some tools.
Social media marketing is an especially effective and affordable option above other marketing campaigns and strategies. It’s even better if you don’t have to hop around across platforms to see each one’s KPIs.
Sprout Social is a management tool that tracks your social media marketing efforts. Most importantly, it tracks your performance metrics along the way. Watch your engagement rates grow, compare your performance on various social media platforms, and more in one place.
Indy Task Tracker
There are countless types of KPIs you could track, but don’t focus on results alone. Productivity is one of the most important metrics to track too, especially if you have a growing team.
That’s where Indy’s task tracker comes in. You add and designate tasks as needed and team members them off when they’re complete. Then, check it at any point or in real time to see what they accomplished each day.
This is especially helpful for comparing with your financial data. For instance, check whether your months with low revenue were less productive. This tells you if the problem was with the number of tasks getting done or with another part of the pipeline.
Any business’s website holds critical data about how well they’re reaching people, how engaging their content is, and more. Google Analytics has the answers you need.
This tool tracks a wide range of data from your website. It shows the site’s number of active users each month, top traffic sources, bounce rates, and more. One of the top KPIs any business must watch in Analytics is conversion rate – the percentage of visitors that make a purchase or reach out.
Google Analytics is free too. There’s a free version with many great metrics but there’s a paid version with more insights too.
Salesforce is an incredibly popular KPI tool, with over 150,000 customers including Fortune 100 companies. There’s no mystery why it’s so popular.
Salesforce’s tool is the ultimate in customizability. It lets you create custom dashboards for your specific needs and any KPIs you want to track. From sales growth to churn rates, it’s all on the table.
While customizability is a huge plus, keep in mind that this makes Salesforce tougher to use at first. Getting familiar with it takes time, and so does customizing it the way you want, especially if you’re not very tech-savvy.
Indy Time Tracker
Another type of KPI many startups need is time-related KPIs. Maybe you have a goal of keeping certain tasks under a specific time period. Another goal could be a number of billable hours to complete each month.
The time tracker tool will track how much time you spend on each task. You can then compare the numbers at intervals to see your billable hours growth rate, top time-spenders, and other data.
When it comes to financial KPIs, Quickbooks is peerless. It’s long been popular for startups and established companies alike.
With Quickbooks, you can track all expenses, invoices, bank balances, and other critical financials. Not only does this software generate any essential reports you need but it displays KPIs like revenue growth and burn rate (measuring your net cash flow).
QuickBooks Online is also incredibly well integrated with tons of external apps that let you integrate your QBO account with timesheets, calendars, automated tax planning, cash flow forecasting, and also periodic backing up and recovery of your online accounting system.
Good Old-Fashioned Spreadsheets
These dedicated tools above are terrific for many startups, but some freelancers have other use cases. Maybe you just prefer something familiar.
It doesn’t get much more customizable than a good old spreadsheet. Whether you’re using Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or a similar tool, spreadsheets can calculate KPI measurements and import and analyze data.
If you have several team members, have everyone keep their productivity or tracked KPIs in that same spreadsheet in a shared drive. This way everyone is on the same page and you can hold them all accountable.
Finding Your Custom Solution
With tracking KPIs, it’s all about customizability. You need a tool (or several tools) that delivers all the necessary data when you need it so you can adjust your strategies for greater success. It takes time to try your options and see which ones fit your needs, but trust me, it’ll pay off in the long run.
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