Covid-19 fundamentally changed not only how we work, but also how we measure business performance. Today's cautious business owners are operating with a "slow and steady" mindset rather than "fast and furious." These are some key ways to assess the health of your business today compared with how you might have prior to the pandemic.

Redefine key metrics

To effectively measure success, you must take stock of what defines it. As we are living in different times, that may require a certain amount of recalibration. Instead of blindly measuring against pre-Covid-19 KPIs, where the monetary results of tactics may have previously taken center stage, focus on the metrics that factor into steady growth and recovery.

There is an overwhelming call at the moment for brands to demonstrate a deep understanding of their customers' needs and expectations. To that end, KPIs should prioritize customer trust rather than retention. In practice, this might mean a figure that has historically been peripheral in KPI reporting--for example, first response time--needs to be brought to the forefront.

Get back to basics

To thrive, you must first survive. Instead of building an entire business plan or strategy around ambitious goals, create a road map for success based on various phases of progress. Define the minimum thresholds for each phase, starting with the bottom line that you absolutely cannot fall below in order to remain in business. Then, determine what must be true in order to reach each ascending level of success.

Examples of overarching metrics one might use to track growth-stage achievements might look like this: 1) survival--can generate enough cash flow to stay in business and to finance growth to a size that is adequate for the industry; 2) stability--able to withstand a temporary problem (e.g., drop in sales); 3) increased demand--supply chain is performing efficiently and resilience framework is in place to mitigate any disruptions; and so on. 

Take a look at the bigger picture

Your sales and behavioral data present an opportunity to identify patterns indicating what your customers want and need at any given time. Instead of focusing on numbers, look at the message behind the metrics. What story do your analytics tell, and what doors do they open?

For example, what is fueling your referral or business pipeline, and are there new or existing opportunities there on which you can build? By understanding which tactics and channels are yielding the results that are significantly contributing to the growth of your business, you can double down on those efforts to perpetuate increased revenue and operational efficiencies.

Prioritize your people

The people who keep your business running are your best allies; this is especially true during challenging or transformational times. Your people are going to be more plugged in to various areas--internally and business-facing--than you ever possibly could be on your own. As important as it is to communicate to them how valuable they are to the organization, it is as imperative to show them.

Instead of regarding your staff's insights, concerns, and feedback as color commentary, prioritize it with regular, benchmarked check-ins. Depending on the size and culture of your company, this can be done with engagement tactics such as surveys, one-on-one discussions, staff meetings, and suggestion boxes (physical or virtual).

Covid-19 has shifted priorities for many business owners. That doesn't mean your goals should change, but it probably does change how you should be measuring and responding to progress. By focusing on what matters for the health of your business today, you can carefully and strategically build toward sustainable recovery and success.