34 Types of KPIs to Measure Your Startup (with Examples)

Startup metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to understand and keep track of so your startup can measure, analyze, and grow your business using data, rather than blindly trying to grow.

But not all key performance indicators were created equal. And not all KPIs that are applicable to different types of startups are the right match for your startup. That’s why it’s important to use the right metrics to measure performance.

This post goes over:

  1. The definition of a key performance indicator
  2. Startup KPI examples
  3. A list of 34+ startup metrics with definitions
  4. KPI goals
    1. Finding your startup’s north star metric with examples
    2. KPI goal setting
    3. Reverse engineering outcomes for startup KPI goals
    4. Keeping track of and measuring your goals
    5. How to avoid getting paralysis by analysis
  5. Conclusion

 

Definition of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Just in case you’re brand new to key performance indicators, I’ll give you the definition.

KPIs are certain metrics that you use to measure and determine the performance of outcomes, behaviors, initiatives, and/or activities in your business.

 

Startup KPI Examples:

  • Month over month sales from marketing campaigns (MoMS)
  • Email open rates (EOR) or click through rates (CTR) of your email blasts
  • Rate of money spent per month (burn rate)
  • Conversion rates for lead magnets for visitors becoming email subscribers. (Visitor to lead conversion rate)
  • Conversion rates for visitors into free trials and from free trials into paid customers. (Visitor to free trial conversion rate) & (Activation Rate)
  • Amount of cash flow coming in and recurring monthly (MRR), quarterly (QRR), annually (ARR), etc.
  • Average time spent on your website (average session duration)
  • Time spent on a page (time on page)
  • Returning visitors to your app or website (returning visitors)
  • Daily, weekly, or monthly active users on your app or website (DAU, WAU, and MAU, respectively)
  • The rate in which visitors come to your website and leave without any interactions or clicks (bounce rate)
  • User satisfaction (net promoter score (NPS))

 

List of Startup KPIs

There are quite a lot of key performance indicators that can be used to measure startup performance.

Below, you’ll find the more than the 34 types of startup metrics as shown in the infographic and what each KPI means.

1) MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) = The amount of revenue you make that recurs monthly

2) ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) = The amount of revenue you receive that recurs yearly

3) ARPA (Annual Revenue per Account) = MRR / Total # of Customers

4) Gross Profit = Total revenue minus the cost of goods sold

5) TCV (Total Contract Value) = Value of one-time and recurring charges

6) ACV (Annual Contract Value) = The value that a contract will bring to your business annually

7) LTV (Lifetime Value) = Prediction of the net profit from the entire future relationship with a customer

8) Deferred Revenue = Amount that was received by a company in advance of earning it

9) Billings = Current quarterly revenue + deferred revenue from the previous quarter

10) CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) = How much it costs, on average, to acquire a customer

11) CCR (Customer Concentration Risk) = Revenue from largest customer / total revenue

12) DAU (Daily Active Users) = The number of users that return to your startup’s site or app on a daily basis

13) MAU (Monthly Active Users) = The number of users that return to your startup’s site or app on a monthly basis

14) Number of Logins = The amount of times users have logged in to your portal

15) Activation Rate = Number of users taking a specific action to get value out of a product

16) MoM (Month-on-Month Growth) = The rate of growth from month to month, comparing the the current month or past 30 days to the previous month or last 31 to 60 days.

17) CMGR (Compounded Monthly Growth Rate) = (Latest Month/First Month) ^ (1 / # of Months) – 1

18) MCR (Monthly Churn Rate) = Lost customers this month / prior month total

19) Retention by Cohort = % of original installed base (1st month) that are still transacting

20) GCR (Gross Churn Rate) = MRR lost in a given month / MRR at the beginning of the month

21) Net Churn = (MRR lost – MRR from upsells) this month / MRR at the beginning of the month

22) Monthly Cash Burn Rate = How much money you spend per month (gross)

23) Net Burn Rate = Revenues – gross burn

24) Gross Burn = Monthly expenses + any other cash outlays

25) TAM (Total Addressable Market) = Revenue opportunity available for a product

26) ARR (Annual Run Rate) = Projection of current MRR into the future, annualized

27) Gross Margin = Difference between revenue and cost of goods sold

28) Sell-Through Rate = Number of units sold in a period/number of items at the beginning of the period

29) Network Effects = Effect of one user on the value of that product to other people (example: Metcalfe’s Law)

30) Virality = Viral coefficient = average number of invitations sent existing user * conversion rate of invitation

31) NPS (Net Promoter Score) = How likely user is to recommend your product to a friend

32) Platform Risk = Dependence on a specific platform or channel

33) Direct Traffic = Traffic coming directly to your site via a link or entering the URL

34) Organic Traffic = Unpaid traffic from search results

Types of key performance indicators for startups. Analytics key performance indicators. Startup key performance indicators.

 

KPI Goals

Before you can measure any marketing campaign or startup website performance metrics, it’s crucial to have numerical goals which are measured with KPIs.

And, when you create goals for your startup, then you’ve got to find your top one or two KPIs.

These top KPIs are called your “North Star(s).”

However, it’s ideal to choose one KPI for your north star over all others.

 

Finding Your North Star(s)

You can find your north star(s) by analyzing what are the most important metrics for your startup.

These north star metrics are the most important things to focus on and they allow your startup to formulate a plan which synergistically builds everything in your startup around that one or two north star KPIs.

Think about it: what is the ONE main driver of growth for your startup and how can you measure and align your business initiatives around that one driver of growth?

For instance:

Some companies make free trial signups and paid conversions to be their most important metrics and do that because they know they’ll have a higher likelihood of getting a customer that way.

Some startups might have an easy time getting new customers in the door but their largest focus is on customer retention.

Facebook’s #1 north star was daily active users and still is. So their focus is keeping people on the platform and keeping them engaged on it daily.

Which KPIs you use, specifically, are up to you and your startup to decide because they depend on the goals of your website, product, and/or service.

 

KPI Goal Setting

Goal Setting

If a startup sets loose goals, then they’ll achieve mediocre results.

Set specific goals for your each of startup’s your main metrics to have the best results.

Just in case you don’t know how too do that I’ll show you in the following sections. 🙂

 

Reverse Engineering Outcomes for Startup KPI Goals 

The second habit in the best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by acclaimed self-help author, Stephen Covey, is to “begin with the end in mind.” And this is so true.

I’ve found it’s both helpful and important to set numerical goals with time frames to achieve them by with both startups and in life.

To help you achieve your numerical goal, try reverse engineering your goal from the desired end result divided by the number of days and weeks it will take to reach that goal.

With reverse engineering, we want to get as granular as possible. That’s why you split it up into days and weeks.

It’s also due to the fact that if there’s a loose weekly goal or a monthly goal, then you’ll probably have poor results and won’t be able to correctly reverse engineer your efforts.

Nobody wants that. Below you’ll see the nuts and bolts that allow you to reach those goals.

 

Aligning Activities Towards Your Goal(s)

Make a list of all of the things that you can do to achieve the outcome you’re looking to get and write all the things you can do to make it happen for the campaign and achieve the highest conversion rate for that one specific north star.

It may be that you’ll be using a mix of the following to :

  • Content marketing on social media
  • Email marketing
  • Push subscription notifications
  • Facebook messenger notifications
  • Instagram and Facebook live videos
  • YouTube videos
  • Posting on your social media pages, timelines, and groups
  • Talking about it in your community/niche channels and groups
  • Paid ads
  • Lead flows within your website
  • New landing pages for the specific campaign or goal
  • Partners promoting with/for you
  • Influencer marketing

 

Keeping Track of and Measuring Your Goals

In addition, having a handful of your top key performance indicators tracked in a spreadsheet will help you significantly because you can then have laser-focused attention on what matters most for your startup.

Below is an example of a SaaS spreadsheet metrics dashboard created in Google Sheets by Growth Everywhere.

example-saas-dashboard

 

How to Avoid Getting Paralysis By Analysis

Bob Parsons, the Founder of GoDaddy, once said: “Anything that is measured and watched, improves.”

I would have to disagree because you don’t want to suffer from paralysis by analysis and keep reading and analyzing and waste your time.

It’s so easy to fall into this trap. I know because it’s happened to me several times haha. Please learn from my mistakes.

To avoid wasting your time from paralysis by analysis, I recommend to schedule specific times to monitor your conversion rates.

I like Fridays because it’s the least active day business-wise and I can schedule the changes I need to make to optimize StartupDevKit for the next week. I will also look towards the end of the business day, depending on what I’m doing.

 

Conclusion

Key performance indicators are the startup metrics that are going to be your best friends. They are how you measure your startup’s growth and everything in between.

If you’re new to using analytics and you’re learning about key performance indicators, try to not get overwhelmed and have confidence that you can learn it. This is going to be especially important if you’re a first time startup founder because every startup founder needs to be able to understand the data and how it translates into business performance.

Do you have any questions? 

If not, what KPIs are the most important to you and why? 

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Infographic Image Credit: Funders and Founders

Carl Potak
Carl is the Founder and CEO of StartupDevKit, an online startup incubator and accelerator with the mission of supporting and empowering early stage startups with education, resources, and mentoring to help founders and their teams not only succeed, but reach their highest potential.

Carl has been building and growing startups since 2007 as a founder, consultant, marketer, and recruiter. He's the author of the book Startup Survival Secrets, earned a certification in Inbound Marketing from HubSpot Academy, earned a certification in Google Analytics from Google, earned a Bachelor's Degree from Binghamton University, and achieved Eagle Scout as a young adult.

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