AUTHOR’S POST-PUBLICATION NOTE: As of April 2022, I no longer support or recommend the use of Google Analytics and for details as to why that is, check out episode 53 “Why I Un-Installed Google Analytics (And Why You May Want To Follow My Lead”. For analytics software options I do recommend, there’s episode 54, “How To Ethically Track Your Visitors”.
This is a transcript of episode 25 of the OMGrowth podcast, published May 5, 2021
They say “what gets measured, gets managed” but I have a different take on this: I prefer to believe that “when you know better, you do better”.
And if you wanna do better in your business performance and results? Boss, you’re gonna have to know how you’re performing and see those results!
That’s why this week, we’re going to talk about my favorite business visualization tools and how you can using them to know how you’re performing and see! your! results!
GOOGLE DATA STUDIO
If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you know I preach the gospel of using dashboards to see – quite literally, visualize! – how your website and its assets are performing.
The platform I use and recommend for this is Google Data Studio. Why? Because:
- Google Data Studio is FREE;
- It can connect to a number of different data sources, including Google Analytics and your spreadsheets;
- Your reporting is as easy as drag-and-drop to customize.
While I have a dashboard bundle available over on omgrowth.com that is specifically designed for online creatives, Data Studio has built-in dashboards and reports for you to explore.
Short of having vision issues, there is no reason or excuse why you shouldn’t be visualizing your online performance.
Being able to see the gaps, visualize the patterns, and really look at the trends of your online performance is a downright superpower.
And it’s a superpower you can tap into for free.
Yes, there are plenty of paid-for platforms like PowerBI and Tableau that you can use, but – I’m telling you! – this is an instance where a Free-Ninety-Nine subscription will work more and better wonders than you may think.
One of the main reasons for which is that it can tap directly into the things you most likely are using to track things in your business, like Analytics and Sheets.
If you have a Google account, you have SNAP! access to Google Data Studio so put checking out this platform on your priority list PRONTO!
Another business visualization tool worth checking out – and there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m NOT logged into my account – and that’s Airtable.
I discovered the platform about 3 years ago and when I first logged in, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of excitement, confusion and potential… and almost immediately logged out because it was very “what am I looking at? where do I start?”
When I started looking for resources to help shorten my learning curve – because you know I’m all about that! – but at the time, there were none. At least, not that I could find.
Which is the short version of how I became an accidental expert. I could see that there was something special to the way Airtable provides you with omnipotent power as to how you see your information and projects.
The views, the customizations, the integrations, the automations, the filters, the formulas, the linking – if a project management system and a spreadsheet made unprotected whoopie, Airtable would be its happy little mistake.
And I’m a big fan of happy mistakes and accidental learning. This is why I teach Airtable the way I do – and you can go to omgrowth.com and click on the button that says “show me the Airtable library” to get a bunch of free Airtable resources I have to offer – because instead of teaching you the tech of where all the buttons are, I show you something you can apply.
For instance, you create content, right? But do you have a system in place that ensures that each piece of content you create supports your brand message and serves to promote your paid and free offers… or are you just freestyling your content creation hoping it all connects? With Airtable, it’s easy to connect relevant content, to link what you create to everything else that matters in your business, and to make promotions a mother-loving breeze by keeping all of your assets in the same place.
And keep in mind that we are talking about visualization tools here so it’s no surprise that I’m going to keep sending you to resources where you can – you guessed it! – see those tools at work.
But Airtable is THE project management system for solopreneurs who are doing the work, but also have to account for hitting the goals and targets. Why? Because…
Having those visual connection cues is KEY when you’re responsible for managing the workload AND holding space for the big boss vision.
I often hear the sentiment of “I need an integrator” thrown around by people running Companies of One… when chances are, you just need to see the connections between your business, your offers, your content and your workload in a way that you can more easily take action on.
Speaking of taking action, there’s something I do now before I take any kind of action on anything: I create a visual workflow where I can see all the assets that are required and the elements that need to be tracked.
If I had to keep all of that information floating in brain, let’s just say there isn’t enough wine for the coping mechanisms I would inherit from trying to manage implementing anything that way.
Now, I enjoy an old-fashioned, “back of the cocktail napkin” type of approach where you draw out all the pages you need to create and all the links that need to be tracked.
However, once I have a plan that is kind of set-in-stone that I want to move forward with, I will use a flowchart maker called Draw.io that connects directly into my Google universe.
If you’re familiar with Visio, it works in the same way where you can create visual diagrams of a process.
Whether you’re planning a launch or you’re mapping out the step-by-step process, putting a visual workflow in place that accounts for all the assets like sales pages and emails, and how each are being tracked, is a huge advantage.
Not only does it make “missing” or forgetting something harder to do, but it makes this process so much easier to replicate or even outsource in the future,
Plus, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to change something and then wondered – or let’s be honest, panicked – as an after-thought as to what that one change broke in the process… but I can sleep without Ambien at night because my workflow will show-and-tell me what the domino effect of that one change impacts.
And isn’t that the advantage? Being a company of one or having a small team is that you can be more agile – and we’ll talk about agile project management more in-depth next week – but those brilliant ideas and “oh shoot, I have to remember to follow-up on X” types of thoughts as autobahn-ing through that glorious brain of yours.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it: I would be nothing without sticky notes.
They help keep my brain clear by giving #allthethings a place to live. It’s like Post-It Notes are there to literally hold space for me.
And I love them for it.
Actually, if you head over to my Instagram, I’ll post a picture or video of what I call my Sticky Note Graveyard. It’s where my notes go to die and eventually be recycled. That’s how much I use them
I use sticky notes for everything:
- The “I can’t forget to do this” thoughts I don’t want to have to keep remembering but I know I can’t forget to do or add;
- Jotting down or crunching some quick numbers;
- Mapping out a workflow when I know what pieces I need to make a strategy or project happen, but I’m not sure of the order or how I want them to connect;
- Using them as index cards to flag any number of things I want to keep dibs on.
The colors, the size, the flexibility of moving things around before I have a concrete plan – sticky notes are my love language and my holy-mother-savior of all business visualization tools.
I like to begin my planning phases offline and away from a computer. My brain seems to be more creative in analog and when I’m not staring at a screen, I seem to strategize better.
Furthermore, I believe that’s the case for most of us, which brings us to this week’s ACTION ITEMS… and no, it’s not to sign up for a bunch of tools and software!
1) Connect to your Learning Style
I act as if everyone who listens to me is a visual learner and gravitates to visual media. Is this a correct assumption to make? Perhaps not of the world in general, but it definitely is for my audience because you’re typically the top shelf creative thinker types… and that means you’re typically the type of person who draws a ton of inspiration from the things they can visualize and see.
But figure that out for yourself because it IS important when it comes to maximizing your own ability. Google something like “what is your learning style quiz” and figure out what style you lean most into so you can gravitate to that in a very boss way.
2) Documenting, for the win
It doesn’t matter HOW you do it but that you DO do it… and by “it”, I mean creating assets that document your performance, your workload, and your processes.
Will it seem tedious? Yes, of course! This isn’t the glamorous stuff. But it IS the stuff that you need in place if you want to improve.
I don’t care if we’re talking about your sales revenue, your website traffic, your hours spent working or your team’s timesheets: you need to document these things in the way that best fits how you operate.
I happen to believe that dashboards, views and charts are the best way for creative entrepreneurs to do that because it supports their interactive, color-coded needs. And you can bet your behind I use color-coding with my sticky notes, too!
But trust me when I say that feeding into your strengths and documenting how those are performed or are performing will make managing everything that your business needs and demands from you feel so much easier… because they’re feeding into your strengths, boss, and nothing can feel easier for you than that!