Metrics, in and of themselves, aren’t terribly interesting. You’d rather be building your product or serving your customers than staring at spreadsheets wondering what all the numbers mean.

But you’re torn because you also know that those metrics matter. If you don’t pay attention to them, you’ll never know if your business is doing well or if it’s on the rocks.

Most books and guides I’ve read provide complex spreadsheets and dashboards that require you to fill in an absurd amount of information, demanding you track so many data points it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of. And you don’t. That’s the problem. In the same way I have no desire to do bookkeeping, I have no desire track hundreds of metrics.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be that complex.

Staying on top of hundreds (if not thousands) of metrics is neither helpful nor healthy. You need to be able to look at key metrics, see how they’re trending, and then move on to running your business.

Defining what matters

You’ll need to identify a few metrics that indicate your business is headed where you want it to go. These are usually called “key performance indicators” but that phrase is boring enough that you and I both would have more fun gouging our eyes out.

Depending on the stage and the end goals of your business, what exactly these metrics are could vary quite a bit.

For our example here, we’ll use Baremetrics. When we launched, there was only one metric that mattered more than anything else: monthly recurring revenue. If monthly recurring revenue wasn’t going up, then we were doing something wrong.

But why? Why did that one metric matter so much? Because without, we couldn’t keep working on the product. If we didn’t get paid, we didn’t stay in business and our customers no longer had the product they wanted.

You have to find that metric for your business. It could be revenue, it could be lifetime value, it could be customer growth. It could be literally anything. But you have to find it and then you have to track it obsessively. Because knowing that metric means you know how your business is doing and if something needs to change.

That’s what metrics are ultimately about: identifying what needs to change. Don’t overwhelm yourself with metrics that won’t help you run your business in the stage that it’s currently in.