Business Intelligence is the latest technology that promises to revolutionize the way management can have a pulse on their business. Today’s businesses are awash in data generated from all types of sources at the fastest rate in the history. Majority of businesses cannot keep up with this so called Big Data and simply don’t understand what to do with it. No doubt this data holds lot of valuable insight and can help businesses make the right decision at the right time. The problem is finding that needle in this haystack. This is where business intelligence tools come into picture. Companies are investing large sums of money in these tools. When used properly these tools can provide succinct reports that can managers gain insights make quick decisions.
“You cannot improve something that you don’t measure.” This is the mantra many leadership coaches have preached for number of years, and for the right reason. If you do not know how your business is performing you are practically driving the car without a dashboard. Anything can go wrong along the way and you wouldn’t come to know about it before it’s too late. That is why performance monitoring should be integral to running a business for any leader.
Unless you have been hiding in a cave for the last couple of years you know Greece is on the verge of economic collapse on the scale not seen before. The unemployment rate is a staggering 22% and they are expected to default on their loans unless they receive yet another round of financial help from their neighbors and EU partners.
While it may be tempting to think of Greek situation as unique, it is not far-fetched to think of an analogous scenario for small businesses. After all, as we show below the reasons behind Greek crisis are prevalent in many of the businesses – both large and small. That’s why Greek crisis holds important lessons for business owners in how not to get into the financial disaster. Below is our attempt to explore reasons behind Greece’s failure and how they apply to small business owners.
In the previous blog post we indicated that many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics that you can use as a starting point to determine the key metrics you should track for your small business. We discussed key metrics in the retail and restaurant business in the previous post. In this post we have shown the metrics for additional businesses – hotels / motels and service businesses.
Every small business owner needs to look at the business reports daily, weekly and monthly on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with how their business is performing. You need to understand what key performance metrics to look at in those reports. We showed how to identify and track key performance indicators in this post.
You don’t have to start from zero when looking for key performance metrics for your business. Many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics. As a small business and franchise owner you should be aware of these metrics. In this post we will summarize the key metrics for retail businesses and fast food / restaurants.
In the previous post we mentioned that many small business owners find it difficult to explain how their business is doing with the numbers backing up their words. It is even more difficult to predict how the business is going to perform few months down the road. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
By identifying and tracking few key performance indicators (KPIs) any small business owner can not only figure out how the business is performing; but also forecast where it is headed. This is no different from when the doctor checks vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, weight, etc. of the patient to find out what is wrong or could go wrong. You only need 5 or so KPIs to get a feel of the business performance.
Typically, these KPIs will be different for different industries. For example, the retail store should look at comparable sales and inventory turnover; while exercise facility would track customer turnover and average sales per customer. Most large publicly traded companies include these KPIs in their annual reports or in the financial analyst reports.
In the previous post we mentioned that as a small business owner you should know the key numbers of your business by heart. These key numbers provide valuable insight in your business and act as early warning indicators. Without them you may not realize if the business is heading for trouble and by the time you do it may be too late.
We also advise you to spare some time from daily operations and spend 15 minutes daily and several hours weekly and monthly to go over the reports that show how your business is performing. In this post we will provide more details about these reports and what you should look for in them.
If you answer this question with “Oh! It’s OK” or “Just like everyone else”; without backing that up with the sales, cost or profit numbers your business may be heading for trouble.
Whenever we meet with our business colleagues and clients we ask this general question to get a sense of whether the business owner has a grip on his/her business. Many times the answers are what we mentioned earlier. We probe them further by asking follow-up questions such as “why do you say so?” or “how is it compared to others or last year?” and if they don’t have good numbers to explain, we know they need to work on getting a handle on their business.