Technical writing services by Espirian

How to measure business success – the positive signals of progress

Is your business moving in the right direction? How do you know? Here’s how tracking the positive signals of progress can help you stay focused and measure success in your business.

Preamble – why this matters

The human brain is weird: you can instantly forget a positive comment but have your day ruined by a negative one.

When it comes to business, we all have dark periods.

My daughter was 3 months old when I was made redundant in 2009 – and I couldn’t get a job interview much less a job.

I didn’t dwell on that. Instead, I focused on what I could do to help myself. I decided that I was smart enough to start my own writing business – and I’m still at it 8 years later.

The best entrepreneurs are the people who don’t dwell on the negatives but instead focus on how they can build on the positives. They assess the path they’re on and do whatever they can to keep inching along the road.

Rather than letting negatives hold you back, it’s important to ask yourself a question:

🔍 Ask yourself
Is my business moving in the right direction?

There are probably lots of ways and countless books out there on how to be a successful entrepreneur. This post is all about paying attention to the positive signals.

📋 Do this

Recognise and write down all the positive signals of progress in your business.

I’ve been doing this since summer 2016, ever since I was introduced to the idea by my marketing mentor, Mark Schaefer. And it’s been a great help in keeping me on the right track.

It’s all about maintaining your focus on a plan that works and not allowing yourself to be distracted by Shiny Red Ball syndrome (chasing after every new thing that comes along).

When times are tough or I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing, I have a catalogue of positivity to look at – and this inspires me to push on, keep improving and keep growing.

You can find out more about Mark’s process in his 2017 book KNOWN.

What gets measured gets improved.

Peter Drucker
Business legend

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The positive signals spreadsheet

To capture the positive signals of progress in my business, I use a simple Excel spreadsheet split into these tabs:

If you want a free template to track your own positive signals, you can download my sample spreadsheet:

Download the positive signals spreadsheet
This is a direct download – no email address required
Cool people share this sort of stuff

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Tab 1: Signals

The Signals tab is used to keep track of the signs of progress in my business. Examples include the following:

View my interviews, podcasts and guest blog posts

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Tab 2: Metrics

The Metrics tab is used to keep track of more tangible stats such as social media followers. What you track is up to you, but here’s what works for me.

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Tracking Twitter followers

I share a lot of helpful content on Twitter – it’s probably my most active social network when it comes to sharing content and engaging with others. Here are my current stats:

Twitter’s analytics provide an excellent overview of your account activity. Go to to see your own stats.

Twitter analytics from July 2017

💙 Why this stat matters to me
I use Twitter to test ideas for blogs. What resonates with people there often makes good subject matter for blog content.

The bigger my audience is on Twitter, the better that testing ground is.

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Tracking LinkedIn connections

I’ve been very active on LinkedIn in 2017, making new connections at a healthy rate.

You can keep an eye on your connections by tapping the My Network icon:

LinkedIn connections shown in My Network tab

LinkedIn has a system called the Social Selling Index (SSI) to give its users a score based on 4 categories that attempt to measure how much weight that user carries on the platform.

LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) for August 2017

💙 Why this stat matters to me
LinkedIn is a significant source of new clients for my technical copywriting business.

Growing my LinkedIn network increases my exposure to others and improves my chances of scoring new work.

Check out How to get freelance work on LinkedIn for one way I look for new job opportunities on LinkedIn.

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Tracking mailing list subscribers

Most marketing experts recommend creating and building a mailing list so that you can maintain direct contact with your most loyal followers.

I used MailChimp to create my Espresso ☕️ email list in 2016.

MailChimp subscriber stats from July 2017

My current subscriber count is 417.

💙 Why this stat matters to me
People who’ve bothered to sign up to my mailing list are more engaged with my content than any other group. They’re the people I most want to spend time talking with, as there’s a good chance that they’ll be happy to promote my work to others.

If I build up the numbers sufficiently, a few of my subscribers might become customers some way down the line (though I’m not actively trying to sell my writing services through my list).

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Tracking Klout score

Similar to LinkedIn SSI but more general to the whole of social media, Klout scores have been something that marketers have obsessed over for a while. I must admit that I hadn’t even heard of Klout until late 2015, which was around the time that I started blogging regularly.

I’d like to know what my starting score was before I started creating regular content, but here’s my score in February 2018.

Klout score data from February 2018

💙 Why this stat matters to me
My Klout score isn’t anywhere near as important to me as the other stats I’m measuring here, but it still provides a handy indicator of overall progress on social media.

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What about the other networks?

You’ll see that I’m not tracking anything to do with Facebook, Instagram or any other platforms. Why?

Because I don’t use them for marketing.

I have a Facebook business page but don’t ever receive any client interest via Facebook. So tracking likes there isn’t particularly relevant to me.

But that could be completely different for you. What’s important here is that you track the metrics that matter in your business.

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My real metrics

Here are some of my own real figures:

Date Twitter LinkedIn Espresso ☕️
2018-05-10 2256 2271 401
2018-04-20 2210 2141 382
2018-03-23 2163 2002 346
2018-01-23 2115 1822 305
2017-12-28 2073 1766 275
2017-11-29 2002 1708 316
2017-11-06 1952 1641 298
2017-09-23 1774 1486 272
2017-08-24 1706 1392 241
2017-08-08 1672 1330 233
2017-07-29 1644 1309 225
2017-07-05 1570 1244 189
2017-06-13 1516 1195 182
2017-04-28 1366 1081 162

(I unsubscribed around 50 inactive accounts in December 2017, hence the dip in Espresso ☕️ figures then.)

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9 Spokes – a free dashboard

9 Spokes is a free dashboard tool that gives you an at-a-glance view of this sort of data. Here’s what my 9 Spokes dashboard looks like:

9 Spokes dashboard from July 2017

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Another way to track positive mentions

Keynote speaker Brian Fanzo uses an approach he calls screenshot awesomeness.

Brian and his team capture images of all the positive interactions he has with his followers and clients. This helps him build a huge bank of evidence of the power of social media.

Check out this episode of the FOMO Fanz podcast to hear Brian in full flow about this:

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Let’s wrap up

Are you tracking the positive signals that tell you your business is on the right track? What things are you measuring? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Thanks for reading,

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