I work with a lot of business owners to help them grow and develop their businesses, and once we've had that initial conversation to establish where exactly they want their business to go, I then need to be brought up to speed on exactly how the business is functioning and performing right now, and this is essentially all about the numbers.
Starting a business is hard work, often initially you're a one man band which means you're doing everything, and the early stages are largely focussed on getting out there to get as many clients as possible and ensuring you deliver your product/service really well. Essentially, you ARE your business - if you stop, it stops - YOU are your businesses sole employee. The problem with this is that if you're at capacity in the role of employee then you're probably not doing your job as business owner, which is to work ON your business. The other problem is that when you reach capacity your income will be capped - until you DO more, you can't EARN more, and this is often where I come in to help move business owners beyond this point and on to the next level.
So how do you make that transition? Well, the first step is to really get to know your business, now that you're past the start-up stage and it's up and running, you need to start to calculate, track and consistently review your figures, not just the obvious ones like turnover, gross profit, net profit, but the subtler ones too -total number of customers, average customer spend, average customer transactions, lifetime customer value, marketing spends, return on investments. The more numbers you have the easier it is to see where improvements can be made.
Once we have the numbers in black and white we can sit down and analyse what's really working - lets do more of that, and what's not working - let's stop that. Your role as business owner is to continually track, measure and review the performance of your business, and to be continually planning for its strategic development and executing those plans. Your primary role should be to work ON your business, not IN it.
But where do you find the time for this extra role??? I do understand that if you're already at capacity, finding time to fulfill an additional role just doesn't seem do-able. However, once we've got those figures in black and white we're able to quickly analyse what's really working to produce your results and what's not, meaning you can very quickly put together a "To Stop Doing List" (As opposed to the more familiar To Do list) to free up your time and take the pressure off with minimal impact on your bottom line. If you've ever come across Pareto's principle before you'll be aware that chances are 80% of your profits are currently being created by just 20% of your actions, meaning the other 80% that's keeping you so busy can be significantly reduced and streamlined with mininal impact on your business, and the numbers can quickly highlight where these divisions are.
Getting clear on your numbers equates to getting clear on your business, and once you've got them in front of you you'll find that ways to streamline and refine your business suddenly become glaringly obvious, it opens the gateway to a whole host of business developement, but until you know your numbers, you're flying blind!
So go get that calculator out :)