Welcome Back! We’ve Been Expecting You!

It starts off good and then gets better.  I could be talking about life, a relationship, business or any combination of the three; each one can affect the other …..and none more so apparent than in my latest meeting with an old friend.

We go back a long time but he’s showing little wear-and-tear of his middling years, which I mention because he’s a fortunate man who’s taken more than average knocks. The people he relies upon, also older than the franchise he’s involved with, stayed around when he took early retirement. Although he’s a gizmo-gadget fanatic he walked away from his responsibilities, until  …. how should I put this?…. things went up in flames…. and shaken (but not stirred) he was kicked into a realisation of what he was about to lose.

Data was the key to him dusting himself down.

Taking an overview of a situation is the ideal course before making any decision, and using an observation with exclusion to pre-conceived ideas; in other words, objective evaluation adds a dimension to the decision.  Data becomes important. Add the element of quantitative information, the USB stick is enhanced and the hard-drive can soon contain information which alters the significance of decision making. It doesn’t always have to be life-changing decisions that are being considered. But the data is the measurement that, kept in a detached, measured way, can be game-changing for the smaller enterprise.

Moving away from familiar, comfortable ways, to detached spreadsheet-thinking can be a bold challenge.

My friend, previous to his return, thrived on detachment, but being subjective and based upon our experiences he’d evaluated what he had to lose and returned, remaining detached but with a serious edge. In turn, others evaluated from their experience what they had to lose or gain from his return, with the outcome being that both needed the data – the qualitative nature of it was recognised – it held important information.

Why would a business shift its way of working, use data collection, when everything there is to know can be relayed verbally?

Business news and articles are frequently based upon indicators – especially those circumnavigating the economy – inflation is seen jumping or falling around The Office of National Statistics figures, GDP and The Bank of England gives out growth and flat figures.  The Council of Mortgage Lenders, Insolvency Service, Commercial Banking Research, Building Trends and NOMIS, offer up reports, figures and surveys and most currently prove little that the business owner doesn’t already know. They do what they say on the tin, they’re used as a forecasting method; they’re indicators…. not crystal balls.

My friend’s franchise evaluated the situation using data, before he was pulled out of retirement, they understood the indicators and decided whether they could make or break the business.

Evaluating the performance and ability of any business, by monitoring and tracking, no matter how basic, is an essential benefit for leveraging a probability of its success. Anything is better than nothing, applied detailed or sparingly, informal or formal, the information will demonstrate a result which justifies the effort.

It’s an evolutionary, not revolutionary practice.

Continual changes occur which affect planning, therefore potentially the business model itself, when, as part of business practice, objective observation is contributed, the qualitative indicator can be interpreted and applied for direct decisions i.e. financial or indirect i.e. realising shortfalls. The indicator might be that it’s time to get back to work which can be, as my friend said, ‘a pleasure’.

How customers, clients and staff evaluate a business is their business, and how a business evaluates itself can be a hair-raising business because no-one can be certain of the future….. but…. in business, to guide decisions in getting there, objective evaluation is a fundamental element.

As for my friend James,  his latest adventure had its flaws. Hopefully, he’ll go on to further adventures because – to quote his tag – Nobody Does It Better.

Image and Article: Copyright SUF 2013