If you are going to survive as a small business it is critical that you keep your eye on the ball. By that I mean you need to keep your eye on all of your business processes.
You don’t want to be running out of money, you don’t want to be running out of product.
You definitely don’t want to be running short of orders – or a sufficient supply of new customers. A nice analogy here that someone taught me once was that monitoring a business is a bit like flying a plane.
When you are a pilot you have a great many dials in front of you each measuring critical processes. And what you need to think about for yourself is to know what your dashboard data is, that is – what are the critical things that you need to measure on the dials of your own dashboard? Things that you need to check on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to ensure that your business is doing okay.
However, it takes courage to stay on top of these things all the time. The danger is you stick your head in the sand and then problems can get unmanageable fairly quickly.
Here’s a few examples:
For most of us the principal factor is cash flow, it is thinking forward about that and making sure that incomings and outgoings are balanced with each other in such a way that you don’t run out of money at any given time.
Orders coming in
You need to keep your marketing activity fresh. If you get a big order the temptation is to get stuck in about that piece of work because it is earning you ready money and completely forget about the need to market forward for the time when the gap comes and that contract or that order comes to an end and you need to be looking out for fresh orders or fresh contracts. So keep your marketing activity on the boil even when you are really, really busy you need to be sending out those emails.
Keeping up with production
If you are producing things you need to make sure you are hitting your production targets. If people are placing orders with you, and you want to retain their custom in the future, you need to keep on top of the production and make sure you are meeting those orders and meeting the demand in a consistent way and you are not lagging behind.
The full version of this exercise, and an accompanying worksheet, form one of the 8 modules in the What am I Worth? toolkit – and the three examples above are just a few of the many critical processes you might need to measure in your business.