time tracking

Small Business Week 2016

small business week

Every small business owner needs to track key performance indicators on an ongoing basis. Without tracking your business’s performance, how will you know whether your business is improving or just treading water? You probably already track financial measurements, such as cash flow, revenues and sales growth. However, there are three other things you should be tracking that you may not be monitoring as well as your money—but that can have an equally big effect on your success. These include tracking time, tracking your competition and tracking your content marketing.

  1. Track Time

Tracking your employees’ time consistently and accurately has many benefits:

  • It ensures that you pay your employees for time they actually worked—no overpaying, which saps your cash flow, or underpaying, which can lead to employee lawsuits.
  • Save time and money on payroll: A time tracking app that syncs with your with accounting and payroll software eliminates the tedious work of inputting employee hours—and the human error that can come with it.
  • Avoid unnecessary overtime costs: Look for time tracking tools that can alert you and the employee when a person is getting close to their regular time limits. This helps you forestall overtime and the associated costs.
  • Increase employee accountability: Time tracking makes employees more aware of their actions and less likely to waste time, arrive late or leave early.

Don’t have employees? Even for sole proprietors, freelancers or contractors, tracking your time can help you bill customers more accurately, manage your time better and be more accountable to your own clients.

  1. Track Your Competitors

Are you so busy working on your own business that you forget to pay attention to what the competition is doing? Big mistake. Regularly monitoring your competitors can help you:

  • Get new ideas: By watching what’s working for your competitors and what isn’t, you can get ideas for new products or services or to try.
  • Maintain a competitive advantage: Tracking your competition will help you spot opportunities to take advantage of their weaknesses. It will also alert you to threats the competition may pose to your business so that you can prepare to fight them off.
  • Market your business: Finally, tracking the competition will help you differentiate your business from theirs so you can market your business more effectively.

Use social media tools such as Mention to see what people are saying about your competitors. You can also sign up for their email marketing messages or print mailing lists. And be sure to visit their locations (or send your “spies” to do it) to keep tabs on them.

  1. Track Your Content Marketing ROI

Do you use content marketing? Whether you have a business blog, send out an email newsletter or post on social media, chances are the answer is yes. Here are some content marketing metrics to track:

  • Track reads and shares: Are people actively engaging with your content by reading it and sharing it with others?
  • Track backlinks and mentions: Backlinks and mentions on other websites help to build your domain authority.
  • Track ROI: Your ultimate content goal isn’t just to get “likes” but to drive sales. Track how successful each type of content is at generating leads, converting leads to sales or whatever its purpose is.

Use the analytics tools provided by your email marketing service, Google or social media accounts to track what viewers do with your content, and act on what you learn.

By regularly tracking these metrics, you’ll help keep your business on the path to growth.

Did I forget anything that you think is important to track? Let me know in the comments—and check back tomorrow at SmallBizDaily, when I’ll share the best places to find qualified employees.