ROI, customer churn, growth margins—these are all fairly standard metrics to track while you’re building your company. But there are so many more numbers to be aware of as you try to build a profitable business.
To find out which underrated startup metrics entrepreneurs should be measuring, I asked 10 founders with growing companies from YEC what they were keeping tabs on now.
Cost of Acquisition
Most startups understand their growth, lifetime value and main business metrics, and they’re able to optimize funnels to make the company more efficient. However, to create true scale, startups need to understand their cost of acquisition: the predictable cost of signing up a new user coming from ads, campaigns, etc.
By understanding the cost of one user and comparing that to its lifetime value, a startup can confidently scale to millions of users.
Tracking employee satisfaction is an underrated metric at startups, but can also be a useful one. With so much going on at a startup and with high pressure to perform, measuring employee happiness with a quick monthly survey can be a great way to surface any unexpected challenges.
Rather than focus on a specific number or benchmark with this metric, it’s a great way to create a conversation for employees and showcase that well-being is important.
You can project future cash needs based on how much cash is coming in and going out. It’s so important but rarely a point of emphasis.
You have to pay taxes at some point on all of your revenue. This is the biggest mistake I’ve seen, and it takes down so many companies. It afflicts starter entrepreneurs and young companies who’ve yet to garner funding. Aim for a six-month payback to avoid running out of cash.
Qualified Pipeline Value
Startups tend to ignore pipeline metrics in general—but knowing what sort of sales you can expect to come in over time can be crucial to your ability to plan. At the very least, understanding your qualified pipeline value can tell you if you’re going to burn through your cash on hand before you’ll see a profit.
Calculating your qualified pipeline value does require you to do some deeper investigation into who your paying customers are and what it takes to get them to write that all-important check. But it’s an incredibly valuable metric once you have the numbers in place.
—Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
Net Promoter Score
Your net promoter score is the most accurate way to measure loyalty in correlation with growth of the company. It proves (or disproves) the likelihood that your customers will vouch for your business and speak on behalf of its services.
Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. When testimonials are shared among a group of individuals who have complete trust in one another’s opinions, they have a greater impact.
Most startups focus on new clients, which makes sense because you need customers to succeed. But you also need to know how engaged those clients are and if they’re going to stay with you, repurchase or commit to a contract.
The goal is to keep new clients, not replace them each month. Analyzing engagement can shed light on certain aspects of your strategy that need improvement.
Too often entrepreneurs are focused on either revenue or total users, but this isn’t the most valuable metric for your company at this phase. How many people are coming back to your site or app on a daily basis?
If you have 10,000 downloads but only 10 people view the app per day, you likely have a serious longevity concern. Use tools such as Mixpanel to determine this number, then scale.
Missed Business Opportunities
Always tell your sales staff to measure any business they turn down and why. Figure out whether you’re turning down the business because it’s something you don’t offer yet or if it’s something as simple as short supply.
If you’re not measuring how much money you are passing up, you won’t be motivated to find a way to increase your bottom line. Aim to make as much money as possible without saying no to people who want to give you their money.
Organic User Acquisition
This is the cheapest way to acquire new users. And if entrepreneurs already measure this, they can start optimizing for it, which dramatically decreases growth-associated costs.
This shows that your employees believe in the vision of your startup and are in it for the long haul. Employees should be invested in the company’s long-term success rather than working to check off tasks.
—Jyot Singh, RTS Labs
Image by Natalie Shuttleworth