The one thing all great business owners have in common

happy small business owner

Business lessons from Amanda, John and Sue

I love working with Amanda. I generally love working with all of my clients but Amanda is one of my favorites. The other two favies are John and Sue.

After a session with Amanda, John or Sue, I’m always energised and I can’t sit still. The three businesses are entirely different. One is in floristry, one is in retail and the third has a landscaping business, and what’s more, all three are entirely different people.

But they have one major thing in common, namely that their businesses are doing significantly better than most. For a while I asked myself what it was about the three of them that meant they do so well what it is about those three people that they do better in their businesses, than some of my other clients and that gets me so excited?

The Boring Numbers

Strange as it may seem for someone like me who is not a natural numbers person, I’ve realised that the one thing above all that is different about how Amanda, John and Sue run their business is their rigorous focus on the numbers. See also my article on the five P’s for 2017

All three of them have grasped the importance of numbers and have made it their business to understand them and manage their business by them. It means they’ve invested time, money and energy in setting up the right measuring and reporting systems. They ensure they get weekly reports on the key numbers in the business; they take the time to study those numbers, every week, and finally they take appropriate action based on those numbers, every week.

Managing Complex Relationships

A business is a complex thing and it needs constant care and attention to keep it functioning as it should. There are too many different facets to a business to be able to focus on all of them at once. Business owners who try to do so anyway, become micro managers, their staff will get disengaged and they’ll burn out. On the other hand, if you don’t keep track of what goes on in all the corners of your business, all you’re doing is practicing the ancient art of “managing by keeping your fingers crossed”.

I always like to think about the complex thing that is a car. You simply can’t know what goes on in all the different corners of your car’s various mechanisms and systems. You can’t keep an eye on the pressure inside each cylinder for example. If something goes wrong inside one of the cylinders, it may be that the pressure in that cylinder will change. If you have a six-cylinder engine in your car you’d need 6 separate pressure gauges just to keep an eye on that function of your car. There would be hundreds of dials and lights and gauges just to keep a normal car on the road.

Thankfully, you don’t need astronaut training. It turns out that what we need in our cars, is a single temperature gauge and a single oil pressure gauge and with those two we can know the health of our engine. Any problem that might develop in the engine will have a direct impact on engine temperature and oil pressure. If the temperature gauge on our dashboard goes up for example, we know we need to get someone to check out if it’s an oil leak, a blocked radiator hose, or a problem in the cylinder.

Fingers On The Pulse

And that’s exactly how you can “keep your finger on the pulse” in your business. A minimal series of gauges can tell you what is going on at a high level, so you’ll know where to focus your attention.

Amanda and John and Sue are doing exactly that. They have tasked various people in the business (the bookkeeper, the shop manager, the foreman) to provide them with weekly and sometimes daily reports on the key numbers that matter most in their businesses. Every time they get their reports, they quickly scan them and they know instantly where they need to direct their energy. Managing your business with such a dashboard, means your attention where it’s needed, without keeping your fingers crossed.

The Payoff

Focusing on the numbers is boring (if you’re not an accountant), and it takes discipline to get KPI dashboard reporting in place in the way that works best for you, undoubtedly. The payoff is great though. It’s exciting to watch business owners like Amanda, John and Sue, at work, because their focus on the numbers means they get to focus on building their Visions rather than extinguishing brush fires all the time.

If you want to build your Vision too instead of running around from crisis to crisis all day long… learn about the numbers.

It will change your life… I promise you.

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