With many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) operating on tight budgets, it’s easy to see how the focus tends to be predominantly on finance. After all, for some business owners, keeping your operation open is sometimes dependent upon the numbers from the quarter, or even month, before.
When it comes to generating reports to gain a better understanding of where your business is at, most metrics measured are those centered around profit and loss. As important as financial reporting is however, there are several indicators of the health of a business that are not directly tied to accounting.
Even non-financial metrics are quantifiable. There are several reports SMBs should consider running regularly that offer valuable insight into important trends in the business and in the market that can help you course correct before things start to go sideways. Let’s examine several non-financial reports every SMB should run.
Sales and Marketing
As the famous quote says (attributed to several people, including Peter Drucker, Thomas Watson of IBM, Arthur “Red” Motley, and Mary Kay Ash), “Nothing happens until someone sells something”. Regardless of who said it first, it’s the truth. Sales are the most important aspect of any business; without them, you don’t have one.
Outside of simply the profit generated, there are other critical aspects of sales reporting that every SMB should pay attention to, such as your sales pipeline, conversions through each step in the sales cycle, and customer churn. You should be able to see where your strategies are working and where they’re falling short based upon metrics from sales teams or individual sellers.
Marketing is often coupled up with sales as their functions do go hand in hand, but when we’re looking at reporting, they’re not always directly tied. With the right reporting functionality, you should be able to run marketing reports separate from sales in order to determine where your budget is best spent. For example, lead reports that help you track where your leads came from, or demographics to help you know where to target your material.
The benefits of having an online presence and ecommerce platform are many, and for SMBs, it can significantly separate you from your competitors. Because your website is always “on”, it’s difficult to understand what your traffic looks like in real-time. It’s important to understand not only how many people are visiting your site each day, but at what times, how long they’re staying, and what they’re doing while they’re there. This helps you analyze what you can do to improve their user experience as well as what changes you can make to ultimately generate more revenue.
You can utilize simple reporting tools like Google Analytics for this information, and if you’re looking for something more robust, can import data from Google into another more dynamic reporting platform.
Social Media Analytics
Social media is one of the simplest, most effective, least expensive ways for SMBs to create a platform for marketing their business. The key to successful social media is finding a way to connect with your audience through content they resonate with.
Each of the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, provide free analytics tools within them. They’re invaluable for showing you what content had the most impact, and what didn’t work as well. This helps you narrow your social media strategy in order to better focus on what your customers are looking for. Connect the informations from your social media profiles to your customer relationship management (CRM) software and then run reports that show what percentage of your customer base comes from social media. Once you understand the ratio, you can better allocate your marketing dollars.
The idea of workforce analytics isn’t necessarily something new; people have been scheduling their staff based upon “peak hours” for years. The problem was, however, that it was largely based upon a best guess, or past history, leaving staff hanging around without much to do, or short team members, which meant scrambling around to keep up and dealing with unhappy customers.
Having the ability to run workforce management reports in your human resources software or a performance management software does more than just let you know optimal times to staff your business. You’ll know which employees to schedule when based upon things like traffic times, customer wait times, and employee skill sets. Managing your staff hours well makes a huge difference to your customers, but it also makes a difference when you manage payroll. Workforce analytics reports make sure that you pay for workforce hours at the times it makes the most sense.
If you’re not already running non-financial reports, consider the benefits of understanding how things indirectly related to the bottom line affect your business. Utilizing basic analytics tools already provided by some platforms or adopting software that helps you design and run reports for all aspects of your business can better position you to make smarter decisions that are critical to the health and success of your company.
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.