If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely experienced moments where things just seem to be going well. Maybe your employees seem extra energized as of late or you’ve heard positive buzz about your latest product. It may even be that the long-awaited arrival of spring is what’s reassuring you that things are shaping up.
Be wary of these feelings. Delight in them, of course (I won’t begrudge anyone for welcoming the sunshine) but don’t derive a false sense of security from them. While employee morale and positive reviews are indicators of a healthy company, they aren’t proof of one.
The only way to know for sure what state your business is in is to look at the cold, hard facts, the financial metrics that, though at times unforgiving, never lie.
Sometimes even bringing yourself to look, let alone analyze, your business metrics can be draining. For that reason many companies keep a close eye on one, key metric—profit—and pay little attention to the rest.
This is a trap you do not want to fall into. Profit is an undeniably important metric, but it is only tells you where your business sits at a single moment. High profits one quarter don’t guarantee gains in the next.
If you want to predict the long-term health of your company and spot warning signs of potential obstacles, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Here’s where to start: (more…)
If asked to describe the perfect employee, most employers could likely arrive at an answer pretty quickly. Most have a list of characteristic this ideal individual possesses: intelligent, passionate, motivated, and possessive of a wealth of other job-specific traits.
When looking to hire, this is the person all employers want. Someone perfectly geared to the position, one who arrives day one fully equipped to handle whatever it is he or she is given.
Is this realistic? No. And the more specific your industry, the more difficult it becomes to find that ideal math. So what do you do? Obviously, you hire the person best suited to the job. But rather than accept inevitable shortcomings, strive to mold that ideal match. Invest time and energy to train each employee to fit his or her position.
And don’t just send them to a conference of point them in the direction of a series of tutorials. Take them under your wing and pass along the unique company perspective you possess. This 4 step plan from Inc’s Geoffrey James will help you do so. (more…)
We’re ten weeks in to the New Year, and while you may have reneged on your personal resolution, you’re hopefully holding strong to your 2013 business plan.
Of course you want to be; there’s too much at stake to “go with the flow” where your business is concerned. But keeping your business on track requires more than willpower. Changing demand and unexpected expenses can pop up at any time and keep you from moving forward.
If you’ve been hit with these forces already this year, don’t despair. It may seem your plan is shot—“If this is how the first quarter is shaping up, what can we expect come December?” But, it is in fact better to encounter problems now (when there’s still time to make adjustments) than eight months in.
The sooner you take action to boost sales and revenue, the better. You want to give yourself as much cushion as possible to prepare for unforeseen slowdowns.
This five step plan from Brad Feld at Foundry Group will show you what to do now to make your first quarter a success. (more…)
One glance at my bank statement and I know the state of my finances. One simple figure (most often smaller than I’d like) tells me all I need to know; pretty straightforward. But I’m not running a business. If I was, I’d need to see a lot more than a number to know how things were going.
Just as a number on a scale doesn’t reflect a person’s overall health, a balance sheet can’t provide a comprehensive insight of a company’s financial state. It indicates profitability, sure, but is only one measure of a company’s health. Look at your balance sheet and you’ll know where your company stands today. To know where you’ll be tomorrow and ten years down the road, you need to take a look at several other—perhaps less evident—factors. (more…)