ll achievers are hopeful and optimistic about their next great success. It is part of our DNA. But a dose of objective reality is a useful antidote to anything close to a delusional grasp on your progress. So here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Use Scorecards to keep track of the key variables that drive your company.
A scorecard is a management tool that synthesizes key data like growth, operations, talent and financials in one easy to read page and gives you a snapshot of your company’s performance. It can provide you a quick and easy to understand 360 degree view of your company. It is entirely data driven and can help you get into the habit of making key decisions with data as opposed to your gut feel, aka, opinions. You don’t need to know everything to navigate a start-up; but you do need to master the important things that are essential to your company’s performance. The best way to use it is to review it daily, share with your team in staff meetings and realign priorities as you develop your business.
Perform external research to keep you current with competitors, customers and trends.
Don’t become so internally focused that you forget there is a big world out there with creatures that want to eat your lunch, want more from you or are just plain changing. Try to learn something every day about the environment you operate in and you stand a much better chance of adapting and flourishing. Looking at other’s websites, getting exit interviews of customers, and attending conferences are all practical ways to assess trends in your segment. Reposition your activities if necessary but using external data to inform your decision making will help you keep your value proposition sharp.
Review financial statements on a regular basis to make sure you have a handle on your profits.
It’s all about the green at the end of the day. So make sure you know what’s going on with yours. Don’t guess. Use financial tools. Focus on the 3 key drivers of your success: revenues, expenses and cash flow. Get daily reports if you can but review your numbers monthly. Look for the unexpected changes in cash, revenues or expenses, both good and bad. There is plenty of help out there like this (link).