Monday, December 14, 2009

Keeping Score is Critical For Your Business' Success

Isn't it true that people play differently when you keep score?  Think back about some kind of competition you have recently been involved in, or anything that you can choose to keep score/track, or choose not to.  A sales push, softball game, work deadlines, goal setting, any athletic event, etc...  You play the game, or perform, differently when records are kept, don't you?  It seems to be human nature.  We all have at least a small amount of competitiveness in us...some of us have boat loads! 

In business, things are no different.  Employees act differently when you measure their performance.  You want to increase productivity, set up measurements that push your employees to perform.  And perform they will! 

A business without an accounting system in place, is like going and playing t-ball with the 5 year olds where no score is kept and everybody is a winner (even if the other team really outscores you by 1,000 runs).  At least you can look forward to the popsickles after the game.  On a side note, I've always wondered how kids would excel if they always played games this way, and never had a reason for better performance. 

Anyway, imagining a business being run like this t-ball team spells DISASTER from the get-go.  Without proper measurements in place, how can a business know how well it is performing (if it is even making a profit) and how long they can realistically stay in business.  Things would have to change, or this business would find itself dropping out of the game.

Start Keeping Score and Play to Win

I am a big fan of Zig Ziglar, a popular self-improvement guru.  He stresses the fact that "we were born to win"...all of us were born to win.  I believe that I was born to win.  I was born to be a successful entrepreneur and a winner of a father and spouse.  The same success belongs to you...if you really want it. 

It takes some work to keep score.  I don't know if you have ever seen what goes into the meticulous job of "statisticians,"  but they are in charge of tracking all sorts of things.  Look at a professional sports league.  They keep stats on all types of performance (field goal percentage, batting average, pass completion percentage, shots on goal, fairways hit, punches landed, etc...).  Almost anything you want to know, they track.  Even some of those "far out" stats, like performance during specific types of weather.  Why?  What is the purpose to such detailed record keeping?

Well, it is simply for two major reasons.  First, to measure success.  How else would we know just how good Tiger Woods is, or Michael Jordan was, if we don't have any way of comparing their performance to other players.  We would just be guessing.  The great teams we think of wouldn't be near as great without some point of reference.  Without keeping score we wouldn't have those crazy sports fanatics who find great pleasure in debating over the shoe size of their favorite athletes. What a shame that would be!

The second major reason is to improve.  I played some basketball in high school.  I loved it!  I think the thing I loved the most was knowing, not guessing, that I was getting better as the season went on, or as time passed.  I had undeniable proof that I had improved! 

These two reasons are major reasons to have a good accounting and accountability system in place for your business.  If we are vague and general in running our business, we will be vague and general in our results.  I'm not promoting that you start asking your clients for their shoe size or body fat percentage.  But, tracking their birthdays, anniversaries from when they became your client, or other important events, wouldn't be a bad idea. 

Be a fanatic for your team...your business.  Start keeping score, and if you already keep score, analyze your scoring system and see if there are ways you can improve.  There are many good "statisticians" out there.  I just feel like my team offers the best value especially for new and growing organizations.