We live in a metric driven world. Productivity and profitability are two words which are integral to modern business. We want to know how much it costs and how much we’re going to get back. For those who manufacture items to sell, the time spent working versus the sales price are numbers that can make or break a business. And yet, we can get too caught up on the numbers and not enough on the human element.
There’s a danger in becoming too immersed in numbers. For a business with employees, by driving the employees based solely on numbers, the employee starts to feel like a stat, like a digit sitting in the chair. It won’t matter who the employee is, or where they are, so long as the numbers are hit. It’s a very demoralizing and demeaning experience for a company that goes too far in the metric direction.
For single-person businesses, numbers could tell one story, but the truth tells another. Not to say that numbers aren’t the truth, but focusing on where revenue might be down in one part of the business ignores where it might be skyrocketing in another. Profits might be down, and that looks horrible on paper, but average order size might be up, which is a positive thing.
The positive proprietor should focus on the entire picture. Businesses can’t exist without metrics. How much is being sold, how often, and what kind of money that brings in, is the lifeblood of a business. Cash flow is good. But, there’s more than numbers to a business. There’s heart, soul, and an entire story. Look at the numbers, but also look at what’s happening around the numbers.
I think we should create new metrics in business—the people metric. How happy are you? How happy are your employees? What stories are you creating in your business that are positive? If things are down, can you point to places where your business is growing? A business is a thing, a tool which we use to create our dreams and help our customers achieve theirs. We need to ensure we wield the tool for positive methods, and this means making sure that we pay attention to the story beyond the numbers, and the people for whom we work and serve.