Managing by the Numbers

Good morning!  On the downward path towards the weekend.  The younger two are having their last day at school today and tomorrow starts their weekend with Kubae and me!  And then there is Father’s Day, where I will be grillin’ and chillin’ with all 4 boys and Kubae.  Life is awesome.

Does your business often seem out of control?  Do you think you are running around from one crisis to the next?  I used to find myself in a similar situation before I took my vacation from public accounting.  One thing I wish I had started earlier was managing by the numbers.

I don’t mean your accounting numbers, at least not totally.  I mean establishing goals and objectives, quantifying them, and then managing to those numbers.  Let me give you an example.

The first thing I have is my personal calendar.  My “Work day” starts at 7am writing this blog.  First, I plan my articles a week in advance.  I schedule 45 minutes each day to write and edit and I am shooting for under 800 words.  When I am done, I adjust my calendar for how long it actually takes me to complete the task and how many words I wrote.

My articles get written, I know if I am getting out of control and I do not stress out over it.  By setting the “numbers” I give myself freedom to perform to my highest standard and then measure, over time, how close I am to my objectives.

I also have targets for Number of views, number of readers, pingbacks etc.  I use all this feedback to plan future articles and how long I should allocate to research and writing.

My work day is also planned.  I schedule out on my firm calendar what work I anticipate doing and approximately how long I should spend on it.  The Firm has a great practice management system which tracks our time in minutes so I am able to see how long a task actually took me.

By tracking every aspect, I get feedback and can make adjustments to how I work or even what I work on.  This is an incredible tool for not only me, but the firm.  Because the goal is not to keep me (or anyone in the firm) busy, it is to get free time to start working on other things of value to our clients.

So, if your day seems to be a constant firefighting drill, I strongly encourage you to start planning.  Do it simply at first – use Google calendar and start blocking out time during the day for specific activities.  For instance, perhaps set the first hour of your day to be “respond to emails”.  Then, measure the actual time you spent working on it by either changing the calendar time or making a note.

Planning and feedback.  It works the same way in your business.  First, set your goals and objectives.  Do the work and track how it is going.  Then measure how well you are doing against the plan.  Based upon your measurement, consider modifying work processes to either reduce time or complexity.  Then roll out the new plan. If this sounds familiar to you, it is because it is the standard Lean Six Sigma approach of PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act.

If shipping on time is important, then set a goal that 95% of all shipments go out on time.  If having your construction team get to the job site on time is important, set a goal of 95% of jobs start on time.  Plan.

Every day, have a list of orders that needs to be shipped out that day.  Track how many actually got out the door.  Have your construction superintendent send you a text when the crews are swinging their hammer. Track the times.  Do.

Keep a running record of the plan and the actual.  Monitor the differences. Think about how to get closer to your goal or, if you are actually beating your goal, consider new goals and new ways to get to the goal.  Measure.

With your new plan and goals in place, train your team to carry out the work the way you planned it.  Yes, track everything.  Act.

As a small business owner, your time is absolutely precious.  There is so little of it and there are so many demands.  Only by planning can you get control of your time and perhaps get back to the real reason you started your business – to have the life you wanted.

If you are wondering how you can get started, I strongly encourage you to talk with you accounting professional.  We have been trained since the beginning of our careers to measure and we track time in exquisite detail.  If you do not have an accounting professional or would like to learn more about Currie & McLain, feel free to contact us for a free no obligation consultation.  We are here to help you get back the life you wanted when you began your journey.

Have a great Thursday.  FYI Under 900 words and 35 minutes.  🙂  I love managing by the number.




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