Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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How Business Metrics Can Serve, Not Compete With, The Most Important Things

A lot of people are anti-metric on philosophical principle. They think that the important things can’t be measured, and that measuring metrics therefore puts attention on things which are not important.

 

But I disagree. Not with the principle that the most important things can’t be measured, but I disagree that measuring things necessarily detracts from the important things.

For instance, it doesn’t matter how much money you make as long as your kids love you. That your kids love you is the most important thing, far more important than how much money you make. But you wouldn’t stop tracking how much money you make, would you? No. Because that would make any number of things in life harder than they have to be, like trying to figure out if you can pay for groceries or skating lessons or a house with a treehouse in the backyard.

So you’re not only going to keep track of how much money you make, you’re going to keep track of whether it’s going up or down, and if it goes down, you’re going to want to find out why.

But what people assume about metrics is that you will naturally be drawn to optimize them. That you will forget all about your kids in the drive to make as much money as humanly possible. This is what people fear about metrics.

So I want to give you a great example of a simple way, (using extremely simple metrics) to use metrics to benefit the most important things in your life.

What Are You Working Towards?

As a SEBO (self-employed business owner) there’s probably a few compelling reason why you’re doing this instead of a straight job.

  • What you do in your business is more fulfilling
  • You’re basically unemployable
  • You want to show your kids how to go after your dreams.
  • Hell, you want to go after your dreams.
  • You’re reasonably convinced that this is a better financial route for you and your family
  • Any of a hundred other reasons.

The point being, you have an end-game in mind, a goal that you are working towards. And the business you are building is a major aspect of that end-game.

Left to our own devices, we’re like artists (maybe we even are artists.) We see the difference between the way things are, and the way we envision them, and we get discouraged. We feel like we’re not working hard enough, that we’re not good at this business stuff. It’s very hard on both our sense of optimism (which is crucial for anyone who is self-employed) and our self-esteem.

People in the nice, safe, white-collar jobs get progress reports, letters of recognition, and keep their resumes up to date with their biggest accomplishments. (Well….they should, anyway.)

So why don’t we steal that technique?

Using Quarterly Reports to Highlight Your Accomplishments

I recently had a client show up to a call with a list of the things she had wanted to achieve in the quarter, and a list of the things she actually had achieved.

She had done the planning process in Your Next 6 Months Forever and she had revisited it in preparation for her call. She’d been meaning to do it for a month, she said.

The biggest problem with carrying out these plans is the “revisiting” part. It is hard to make time to revisit it. You always want to get the project you are working on finished up before you do a review. But by then there’s another project knocking at the door.

So what I suggested was that she prepare a quarterly report to share with her husband about her accomplishments in the last three months.

If you don’t have a significant other, you can share with a close friend or relative. Hell, you can even email me. I would love to read it.

People are Rooting for Your Success

Although almost everyone you know wants for you to succeed (your loved ones most of all,) when it comes to day-to-day support and encouragement, they are at a loss.

That’s because asking “So what did you do today?” can be heard as an attack by a SEBO who’s a bit down on himself today. So all too often, friends and loved ones are relegated to simply asking, “How is it going?” and the beleaguered SEBO often takes the opportunity to unload his frustrations and troubles. Telling people about the things that are going well happens comparatively rarely.

 

So, your quarterly report is your opportunity to share all the things that went right. Big companies create reports for their shareholders that include not only achievements and sales numbers, but strategic vision and news of any setbacks.

Your partner probably does not have any of that information. Unless you are in business as partners, both working on the daily operations, they are probably clueless about the state of your business. So how about sharing some information?

Here’s a list of ideas. You don’t have to include them all. This will just get you started.

  • Sales numbers (year-to-date, year-over-year, or simply improvement since last quarter.)
  • What you got accomplished. (You might have to dig deep to think of this stuff, since most people forget their accomplishments almost before they’ve completed them)
  • The outcome of any significant projects, experiments, or initiatives.
  • Planned projects for the next quarter
  • Revisit or elaborate on your strategic vision in light of the rest of the information you’ve shared
  • A list of things you know need improvement (this can be a powerful motivator, so that you have something to report next quarter.)

This project is both a gift to you and your loved ones. To you, because you will do the review and planning you might otherwise skip, and to your loved ones, so that they can have insight into your business, feel included, and support you better.

Now, if you don’t think that’s a good idea, I don’t know what to do with you.

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