How to evaluate the progress of a startup when you have zero customers or revenue

To measure a startup without any metrics typically used in an established company (like ROI or market share), you need an approach that targets “leading” indicators. You need things that predict market success.

Most teams start with market forecasts and work backwards from there. But a more effective approach to building a new business is to first identify and test specific assumptions – a ground-up approach.

I always advise creating a simple dashboard that includes a few metrics that are both actionable and measurable to help them get going. These include:

– Customer interviews (Number of customers interviewed each week)
– Customer feedback (Number of customers that provide product feedback each week)
– Customer problems (Number of customers that experience the problem that you try to solve and are aware of this problem)
– Customer interest (Number of customers that leave their contact details to stay up-to-date about your product)
– Conversion rates (Number of customers that sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) or pre-order)
– Per Customer Revenue (The amount a customer is willing to pay)

The only goal of this dashboard is to create a measurable cadence with real live customers. Rather than creating a product and unveiling it with a “ta da” at a big launch party, this dashboard ensures early focus on the things that really matter. This way you can validate the business opportunity and measure customer input while working towards your first actual revenue.

What metrics do you use to measure pre-market startups? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Floris Meulensteen
Floris Meulensteen
Articles: 55

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