Updated: Jan 25
So you thought setting the goal was the hard part...
It's time to track your progress to the goal! How else do you know how you're doing??
"A goal without a plan is just a dream." That's what they say at least.
I say "A goal without proper data-driven tracking will never get hit because you can't see how you're doing in relation to the goal."
Mine might be too wordy to go on a coffee mug…
But I do stand by it completely. Tracking progress to your goal has as much of an impact on hitting the goal as setting the goal itself does. So here's my coffee mug quote…
"Progress tracked = Goal achieved"
That's fun because it's two layers. First, tracking progress does lead to goals being hit. Second, part of your goal should be to track performance (in general) so that you can see what's working, what's not working, and how that all impacts your business.
Tracking Revenue Goals and All the "Stuff" that Goes With It
Pretty much everyone has a revenue goal, right?
How do you track progress to it? Two main pieces:
Grab the revenue from your income statement and compare it to your goal number.
Did you get closer today than you were yesterday? This week vs last week? How much closer did you get? Be able to track that.
Your current revenue number is important, but the trend is probably more important.
From a trend (amongst other KPI-type measurements) you can project when you'll hit your goal, how you've continued to make progress, and what has worked best. See the comparison below...
Track the things that have to happen in order for something like a revenue goal to be hit
This is likely something like connections made, leads talked to, successful conversions, and other marketing activities
It might also be tracking your sales cycle - how many times do you have to contact someone to get them to convert, or how many months does it usually take?
Basic progress tracker
Trended Progress Tracker
Goal Tracking Benefit: Choosing the Easy Route
Sticking with a revenue goal that we're shooting for, you probably don't care that much about where the conversions come from at the end of the day, right?
The highway is built, you probably don't care what car is driving on it.
However, some paths to a conversion are easier than others. For example, if you have a newsletter and you put hours and hours of work into it to make sure it's valuable but no clients convert because of that (or even loosely related to it), then that would be a hard route to get a conversion.
On the other hand, if you give a presentation that you've given a dozen times already and you can easily get 5 qualified leads from that, surely at least one will convert.
Don't abandon the newsletter necessarily, but maybe focus more on giving presentations.
Continuing the highway example… would you rather choose the on-ramp that's under construction or the one that has two wide-open lanes?
Choose the easier method to get conversions (aka the higher ROI one!) and your goals will come a lot easier.
Track your progress in your conversion sources and that leads to clear decisions on easier methods for more revenue. A very nice "hidden" benefit to tracking your progress.
Tracking your Goals: Visualize Them!
Another thing that "they" say is "writing your goals down is half the battle" or something along those lines.
My version is, "visualize your progress and the goal comes quicker." The goals are also more clearly laid out when visualized - where you are vs where you want to be.
A lot of solopreneurs and entrepreneurs choose a goal in their personal life and aim to make enough money from their business so that they can buy the thing for their personal life. I think that's great! Still needs to be tracked, but make it fun!
Once the "water hits the boat" you can start floating it!
Doesn't that help focus you and say "what am I doing today to get me closer to the boat?"
Visuals (with the appropriate data, of course) tracking to your goal help a lot… you'll be able to SEE the difference.
How to Track Your Goals
Well, this is all great, but how do we actually get the data into something we can track and make it visual and fun and effective?
If setting the goal itself was the hard part, this is the part that is just slightly less hard to do. But do it once, and it'll be easier for the next time and you'll see the benefits outweigh the slight learning curve.
Here is the basic version, step by step with context
Get the data into Excel or Google Sheets.
This comes in two potential forms:
Automated data flow. Check out Zapier, Coupler, or any of their competitors.
Manual upload. Everything can be downloaded into a CSV. Copy, Paste, Done.
Don't shy away from the manual update - it won't take more than 5 minutes after you do it once.
Create a pivot table
Excel and Google Sheets do the work for you, mostly.
Highlight the columns that have the downloaded data, then insert a Pivot Table on a new sheet (the default option)
For Excel users, this is seriously as simple as 4 key clicks: ALT, N, V, Enter once the columns are highlighted.
Select the fields you want
Probably "Revenue", or "Conversions" or whatever KPI you want to track
There could be some formulating to make sure exactly what you want is in there, but this is the idea at the very least. We are always here to help you if need be!
Compare the total to your goal
You can put in a pivot chart to show a trend, or do a simple calculation of "Total Revenue / Goal = Progress"
Done! Now you've got the bones to track your progress to your goal!
I know that is all very general speak, but this simple video walk-through shows you step by step how to start a revenue tracker from QuickBooks data!
That's that! Stay tracking my friends.
Skip to the end for a summary? Here you go:
Track progress to your goals and they'll be easier to hit
Tracking helps you focus your time on what's working best
Create visuals for your progress and things are clearer and help focus you.
The actual process of tracking can be daunting, but there are simple versions you can do in 10 minutes!
More on Pineapple Consulting's tracking services...
In order to be data-driven, we need tracking and we need goals. All of our service offerings like Financial Dashboards and our industry-specific pages like Solopreneurs and Small Businesses incorporate tracking data to show progress, what's working, and all of the other benefits of a data-driven approach!
Learn more about our custom dashboards: