Business Is All About The Numbers

numbers

Business is a numbers game

What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.

In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.

Format

The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

The Numbers

numbersIn the fifth of these articles we’ll look at the numbers and ask:

How do we do business by the numbers and why?

Doing business without numbers is like playing football without a scoreboard. You simply cannot run any kind of business for any length of time without keeping your eye on the numbers.

This is a fact.

You may not like numbers and you may believe you are no good with numbers and you may want to just “get on” with running your business.

Well I have good news and bad news for you:

  1. Bad news: You’ll simply have to get over your dislike and your hurdles.
  2. Good news: Numbers are a lot simpler than you think, you don’t need all that many of them and you won’t have to find them yourself.

Measurement

Numbers are important because they are the result of measurement and measurement is what allows you to manage and develop a business and stop it from going backwards.

For example you have to know (measure) what is in your bank account if you want to stay alive… No argument there I imagine? Well your bank balance is a number.

You may also want to measure the effectiveness of the money you spend on marketing and again the answers will come in the form of numbers.

You may want to know if you have enough stock on hand to supply your customers in the coming week… The answer is a number.

You may want to measure why your bank balance has been going backwards in the last three months… The answer will be in the numbers.

I trust I’ve convinced you that numbers are key and you just have to get your head around them. But which numbers?

Lets have a look at one of my Business Bedtime Stories.

A Business Bedtime Story

(The ‘Business Bedtime Stories’ are real world case histories that illustrate this months topic in some way)

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Michael had a carpet cleaning business …

carpet cleaner Michael owned a carpet cleaning business in Sydney and Michael had ten vans on the road with 16 staff. Michael’s life was full of crises, most of the crises involved his staff not delivering the customer service or quality that Michael’s clients expected.

Michael kept thinking:

“If only I had a simple way to measure “Good Work” and “Good Service” that I can apply across the board and use to manage the performance of the guys ?”

Working with me as his business coach Michael learnt that you can create relative measures for intangible things. For example If you were asked to give a score out of ten for how happy you felt at this moment, where “10” was that you felt delirious and “0” meant that you were at risk of self harming, you might say “6”. If I were to ask the same question again tomorrow you might answer “7”. This would lead us to reach a valid conclusion on your state of happiness tomorrow relative to today.

This same principle can be used to measure all sorts of intangible things in life and lends itself really well to measure quality, service and satisfaction levels.

Self-scoring

Michael and I went to work to create a self scoring system, where a staff-member filled in a small form at the end of each job in which he gave himself and the just completed job a series of scores out of 100 on a number of different measures (for example: “Give yourself a score out of 100 for being punctual”)

The forms would be collated in a spreadsheet and the numbers averaged for each staff member and for the business as a whole. Every week on Monday morning Michael received a report from his admin assistant with the average performance numbers across the company for service and quality in the last week. At the same time Michael had his assistant call 10% of all clients every week and ask them to rate the completed jobs in a similar manner and these ratings were listed side by side with the staff member’s own ratings. The staff members would be given access to the customer ratings as well and as required Michael would sit down with individual staff members, compare notes and generally help the staff improve on their ratings and become more accurate in their self-scores.

This scoring system completely changed the way Michael thought about managing his business and he realised that the way to build a great company and great business value was to step back and create management systems, scoreboards and dashboards.

Five years later Michael sold his business for a price much higher than he could ever have hoped to gain when we first met.

And Michael as well as the new owners of Michael’s business will live happily ever after… The End

Lessons from Michael:

So let’s have a look at what we can learn from Michael:

  • First: There are many other numbers that we can focus on besides money in the bank
  • Second: Measuring intangibles like punctuality is actually quite simple.
  • Third: Measuring an aspect of business allows you to improve it.

Deserted island

deserted island Here is what I’d like you to do: Imagine that you are banished to a deserted Island. And for a period of time, say 6 months, the only information you get about your business comes from the weekly mail boat. The mailboat can deliver you only a single piece of paper with maybe 15 numbers on it and the mailboat will wait for 15 minutes to take your instructions back to your business for that week.

What are the 10 to 15 numbers that will tell you how healthy the business is and allow you to make quick management decisions and instructions that you can send back?.

Most businesses will have a couple of common numbers, such as bankbalance and profitability on their mailboat report, but beyond those common numbers every business owner has his or her own priorities that tells him/her what’s going on. For example, in my business I constantly need to know how many inquiries I have had in the past 6 months, because it gives me a really good indication of the number of new clients I’ll get in the next 6 months. In another business a critical indicator might be the average number of days it takes to get paid, because if this number goes up, the business will to run out of cash.

Don’t do it yourself

I mentioned in the ‘Good News’ that you don’t need to be the one who finds the numbers.

finger on the pulseThis is actually a critical point. You as the business owner are primarily responsible for keeping your fingers on the pulse, but I want to encourage you to delegate the production of the numbers to others as much as possible.

There are a whole lot of reasons why you should delegate getting the numbers to others. This article is not the forum to go into the  detail of those reasons, but let me assure you that business owners who truly manage their business by the numbers, get one piece of paper every week, with the critical numbers from their bookkeeper, one from their sales department and one from their production department. It is simply not the job of the business owner to dive into the bookkeeping system themselves to find the numbers; that is not ‘best use of your time’

So start thinking about that deserted island, what do you need to see on that single page mailboat report to enable you to manage the health of your business?

Your First Steps:

As mentioned at the start of this article, here are some resources and actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the principles I discussed:

  1. Go to the resources page http://tiny.cc/numberslpage the following resources will help you start to manage the business by the numbers
  2. A sample dashboard with critical numbers of a past client of mine in the catering industry.
  3. Article about business dashboards by Valerie Khoo in the SMH

About the author and the Masterminds sessions

roland Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come. Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here: http://thetentruths.com.au)

Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development workshop as well as a webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar or workshop, follow this link: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au/ The first time is free.

 

Masterminds Observations… More Meetings

verne harnish

verne harnish Business Masterminds Observations

 

Predictability

If you enjoy this article click here to get a copy of one of the “The Ten Truths” books for business owners for free

Another thought about the Rhythm of business and how to make business as predictable as possible from Verne Harnish’ book: “Mastering The Rockefeller Habits”.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.com/0978774949

Verne says to have more meetings, not less.

Verne believes quarterly strategy meetings with your staff are not enough. You need to have a monthly, weekly and even daily schedule of meetings to ensure that the strategies and deliverables from the less frequent planning meetings are actually carried out.

I know that many management gurus would baulk at that statement, because the amount of money and time wasted in business in meetings is staggering.

But Verne is right. Strategies and plans without regular, formal and structured follow up meetings, never lead to the outcomes you’d hoped.

Do learn how to make your meetings super-efficient though (For example, I know of a company where all meetings are held standing up, so that the meetings don’t take a minute longer than absolutely necessary).

See – Feel – Change

Business Masterminds Observations

SEE-FEEL-CHANGE

switchI read a wonderful book by Chip and Dan Heath a little while ago called “Switch”, “How to change things when Change is hard”

The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and really clear explanations of powerful concepts about change.

The authors explain how most people believe that if something needs to be changed, that we need to go through a process of ANALYSE-THINK-CHANGE, build a business case in other words with figures and stats and graphs. Sadly that turns out to be one of the least effective approaches to building a momentum for change… A vastly more effective approach is SEE-FEEL-CHANGE. In other words let people see and feel the problem and the effect of the problem and help them see and feel the change and the effect of the change to get them on board.

So if you’d like people to “get” why something in your business needs to change… demonstrate… speak to their feelings… tell stories

1001 Business Bedtime stories… Michael Cleans Carpets and Builds Dashboards

1001 Business Bedtime stories…… Truth 3, Finger on The Pulse

Truth 3, Planning
Little richard measures and plans his business

Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” … Every story comes straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage and they illustrate an aspect of one of The Ten Truths… You might recognise some of them from your own experience.

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Michael had a carpet cleaningbusiness …

Michael owned a carpet cleaning business in Sydney. Michael had 10 vans on the road with carpet cleaning equipment and Michael would book the jobs and do the marketing and generally run the company.

Michael’s life was full of crises, in fact most of his days involved extinguishing brush fires and he would never know where the next crisis would come from. Most of the crises involved his staff not delivering the customer service or quality that Michael’s clients expected and the only way to manage these issues was by Michael going out and fixing the problems himself.

There were many factors at play of course but Michael found it difficult to keep his staff accountable to specific performance criteria on quality and customer service. How do you measure the quality of a cleaning job and how do you measure the level of customer service and satisfaction you have delivered? But as the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

“If only I had a simple way to measure “Good Work” and “Good Service” that I can apply across the board and use to manage the performance of the guys ?” kept going round and round in Michael’s head.
Michael was at the end of his tether.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Michael learnt that you can create relative measures for intangible things. For example If you were asked to give a score out of ten how happy you felt at this moment, where “10” was that you felt delirious and “0” meant that you were at risk of self harming, you might say “6”. If I were to ask the same question again tomorrow you might answer with “7”. This would lead us to reach a valid conclusion on your state of happiness tomorrow relative to today.

This same principle can be used to measure all sorts of intangible things in life and lends itself really well to measure quality and service and satisfaction levels.

We went to work to create a self scoring system, where a staff-member filled in a small form at the end of each job in which he gave himself and the just completed job a series of scores out of 100 on a number of different measures (for example: “Give yourself a score out of 100 for being punctual”)

The forms would be collated in a spreadsheet and the numbers averaged for each staff member and for the business as a whole. Every week on Monday morning Michael received a report from his admin assistant with the average performance numbers across the company for service and quality in the last week. At the same time Michael had his assistant call 10% of all clients every week and ask them to rate the completed jobs in a similar manner and these ratings were listed side by side with the staff member’s own ratings. The staff members would be given access to the customer ratings as well and as required Michael would sit down with individual staff members, compare notes and generally help the staff improve on their ratings and become more accurate in their self-scores.

This scoring system completely changed the way Michael thought about managing his business and he realised that the way to build a great company and great business value was to step back and create management systems, scoreboards and dashboards.

So she did… and it took a lot of courage… Michael created 3 different weekly dashboards: one for operations, one for marketing and one for finances.

Now 5 years later Michael is negotiating to sell his business. The price he is likely to sell for  is at least 3 times what he would have been able to sell it for a few years back, because now he is selling a business that operates almost independently from Michael himself.

And Michael as well as the new owners of Michael’s business will live happily ever after… The End

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Business?

Find out more about the Small Business Bootcamp here

Or follow this link to New Perspectives Business Coaching

1001 Business Bedtime Stories… Laura Had a Fashion Label

1001 Business Bedtime stories… Laura had a fashion label… Truth 2

Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories”. Every one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” come straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage and they illustrate an aspect of one of Ten Truths. You might recognise some of them from your own experience. This story is about Truth num 2: “A Business without a plan achieves everything in it”

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Laura had a fashion label…

Laura had a little shop in Sydney and a fashion label and a small dedicated band of followers for her unique brand of office fashion for successful corporate women. Laura’s business was 4 years old and although it was gratifying to see the same customers come back season after season for her latest lines and to know how happy her customers usually were when they left her shop, Laura felt strongly that there was a wonderful opportunity for her to grow the business and bring her unique designs to a larger audience, but she just didn’t know where to start.

“Should I get involved in some social media, or maybe I need to take the plunge and open a shop in the cbd or should I look for a partner in Melbourne or knock on the door of Myer, and how will I finance an expansion, and can I continue to manufacture in Australia, and what if I am not good enough to manage more staff and various localities, and is the market in Perth the same as the market in Sydney, and what if Cue designs simply decides to knock off my designs, and if I grow will I lose the loyalty of my customers” etc etc etc

“There are so many what-ifs and so many different priorities to choose from, how do I know where to start?” was the constant refrain in Laura’s head.

Laura was stuck in a classic decision paralysis loop.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Laura came to realise that the only way to cut through her dilemma’s was to face her lack of confidence of business planning head on and get to work with me to develop a thorough Business Plan, in a form that worked for her.

So she did… and it took a lot of courage… but Laura got under way and together with me she started creating a big mind-map in which she put all the dilemma’s and questions and start to work systematically to order them, prioritise them and answer them.

The mind-map evolved to a series of small one page documents for different aspects of the business and a time line with projections for different stages of the business development.

From there Laura simply started to work progressively through the plan, and every time another question or dilemma came up she could go to the plan and the mind-map, and find a place to house the question. This simple process of planning allowed her to be able to focus on the immediate step ahead without being afraid that she will forget something crucial.

Making this step to getting involved in an appropriate level of consistent planning is the one thing that started to shift Laura’s business into a new realm.

Now, 1.5 Years later, Laura has opened a second shop in Sydney. The planning process has helped her understand that her opportunities in the short to medium term are not in the CBD, nor in large scale production Off-shore, but in a series of small unique shops in specific inner city suburbs like Balmain and Mosman, followed by similar expansion in Melbourne and other major cities in Australia.

Laura is looking forward to the next 5 years of consistent controlled growth and building a loyal national following of her label.

And Laura and her business lived happily ever after… The End

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Business?

Find out more about the Small Business Bootcamp here

Or follow this link to New Perspectives Business Coaching