One of the most difficult things for me as a solo founder has always been to have a simple way to stay on top of everything.
Every day I'm pulled in dozens of different directions and sometimes it's difficult to remember what the big picture looks like.
There are several tools that allow you to pull all your data from various sources (Google Analytics, Stripe, etc) and create a comprehensive dashboard but let's be honest, you probably have better things to do with your time than learning a new tool (and you probably can't even justify the cost if you're early stage).
So I've created a simple Google spreadsheet that tracks the five most important metrics to gauge the health of a SaaS business. I've been using this system for over 7 months now and I love that I'm finally able to see what is happening in my company on a macro level.
It takes no more than 10 minutes once a month to keep updated and it's very simple to use.
Though I created this spreadsheet with SaaS products in mind, most founders can easily adapt it to their needs.
You can find the Google spreadsheet here.
How it works
Every 1st of the month (I set up a recurring Google calendar event) I open the spreadsheet and I enter the data of the seven "Input" columns for the previous month.
The seven "Input" columns (B to E, H, I and K) are split into two categories: Financial and Marketing.
The Financial columns are:
MRR stands for Monthly Recurring Revenue. You probably already know this is the King of the financial metrics for a SaaS business.
- New Revenue
New Revenue is how much new revenue your business has made that month, not considering the recurring revenue from the past month. This number tells you how much new business you're bringing in every month. It's a good indicator of your marketing/sales efforts.
- Total Revenue
Total Revenue is how much money your business has generated in total for that month. The reason this number might differ from MRR is due to yearly subscription (which are paid for in advance but barely affect your MRR), promotions, discounts, etc
Expenses are how much money your business is burning every month. This includes everything, from salaries to tools and freelancers.
You can get all the data you need for the financial columns by using any of the SaaS analytics tools available, like Baremetrics. The only number that these tools won't give you is your Expenses, but if you don't know exactly how much money you're spending every month I think you have bigger problems :)
The Marketing columns are:
Number of people who visit your website. For a more accurate analysis, you should only count visits to your marketing website (i.e: not users of your app).
How many people are signing up to your app or starting a free trial. You can get this number by tracking conversions in Google Analytics or running a query in your database.
How many paying customers you're getting every month. You can get this number by tracking conversions in Google Analytics or running a query in your database. I personally also consider people who cancel within the same month because for the sake of this spreadsheet, they did convert.
Where the magic really happens, however, is in the "derived" columns (F, G, J, L and M).
The spreadsheet automatically calculates:
How much net profit your business is generating every month. This is perhaps the most important metric of all. If you're not generating profit, you're in big trouble.
The percentage of profit over the total revenues. This metric is important because it tells you how "profitable" the business is and if, perhaps, you might need to cut costs.
- V2L (Visits to Leads) Conversion Rate
The conversion rate of people who visits your website and signs up (or start a trial). This metric is important because it tells you how well your landing pages convert and the quality of the traffic. For example, if you notice a sudden drop in V2L Conversion rate but your landing pages haven't' changed, it might be a sign that you're getting poor quality traffic.
- L2C (Lead to Customer) Conversion Rate
The conversion rate of people who sign up and become paying customers. This metric is important because it tells you how good your onboarding is. Since there are so many things that can affect the onboarding experience of a new user, it's useful to keep an eye on this metric and take note of any sharp decline.
- Average Sale Value.
The Average Sale Value is calculated by dividing the value in the "New Revenues" column by the value in the "Customers" column and tells you how much money each new customer is "worth". Are they buying the cheap plan or the expensive one? Are they buying any add-on? This metric might not make sense for every business, but it's interesting to see how it performs over time especially if you redesign your pricing structure at some point.
Finally, the spreadsheet automatically calculates averages and totals for each quarter so that you can see how your business is doing from an even higher perspective. The data shown in the quarters is the sum of the values for the corresponding months. So for example, B14 (Q1 value for the MRR column) shows the sum of January, February and March's MRR. The only exceptions are columns G, J, L and M which instead are calculated as averages (it doesn't make sense to show the sum of Q1's Average Sale Value for example).
Focus on what matters
Running a business is difficult, keeping track of the most important metrics shouldn't. This simple spreadsheet allows you to save hours of precious time by spending 10 minutes once a month.
Personally, I've decided to focus on these five metrics because I think that's all a SaaS founder needs to worry about. If your business is not a SaaS or you simply disagree with me, you can very easily edit the spreadsheet to suit your needs.