What You Should and Shouldn’t Want

“But I want to sell more paintings, faster”, she tells me.

I look at her and say: “And I want to have sailboat that I can live in.

“But if I would constantly focus on the fact that I don’t have one, all that happens is that I get frustrated and unhappy.

And that doesn’t help, nor is it any fun”.

She scoffs a bit and says: “But I have all these paintings that haven’t sold yet. I want them out into the world”.

I sigh. This is going to be one long coaching session.

But then I see the solution.

And I tell her that if she looks at ‘number of paintings sold’ as the metric, she’s looking at the wrong metric.

‘Number of sales’ or ‘total annual revenue’ are goal metrics.

They matter, but they’re not what you should focus on.

Instead, it’s much better to look at growth metrics.

And it’s really important not to look at the wrong one.

For example, compare it to the situation my mastermind buddies are in.

They all have a SaaS business (Software as a Service – where people pay a monthly subscription fee for an ongoing service, such as Mailchimp or Buffer).

For a business like that, converting more people into paying subscribers is one metric.

But another one is churn rate: the percentage of people who sign up but the drop off at some point.

It’s common knowledge that retaining a customer is much easier, cheaper, and therefore more profitable than finding a new subscriber.

So for a SaaS business to focus primarily on growing their user base is a mistake.

The first metric they should look at is retention and churn, and find ways to keep more people on board for longer periods of time.

So the metric that my artist client should look at isn’t the number of paintings sold or not sold.

That number is the end goal.

And to get to that end goal, there is a number of other metrics that need to be optimised first.

Size of email list, number of followers on social media, interaction on social media, percentage of people who convert into email subscribers, etc.

Those metrics prepare the business for actually – eventually – selling more.

Now here’s the deeper reason for being deliberate on which metrics to look at:

How much you sell isn’t something you can influence directly.

You can’t beat people into making a purchase, no matter what you do.

People buy your work (your art, your book, your course) only when they are good and ready.

You have no direct influence.

But you do have an influence on how far and wide you are known.

You have a direct influence on how often you show up on social media or in real life.

You have an influence on the number of people with a large audience that you reach out to in order to get exposure.

You can influence how often you talk to your list.

And all those are massively useful and important, because when you optimise those for growth, a bigger business is the inevitable result.

In other words: focus on the metrics that you can control, influence, or optimise.

The final sales will come as a result of that.

Want the things you can influence, not those that are the consequence of those.

When climbing a mountain, don’t keep staring at the mountaintop.

Instead, look at the road ahead, and track your progress on the map.

Hey, want me to climb the mountain by your side?

Would be fun…

Keep you on track, help you optimise, help you solve problems and come up with effective ideas…

Sounds good?

Then get in touch and let’s see what we can do.



Also published on Medium.

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Martin helped our co-working space get to full occupancy and $25.000 monthly revenue in less than a year.

~ Antonio Herrezuelo,
Avenida Capital

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