November 6th is Marooned Without a Compass day. Literally, this means getting physically lost in nature without a compass and relying on yourself to find your way out. Whether that be using the position of the sun or stars, or listening out for the sound of water to find a river to walk alongside.
Figuratively it means to feel lost in life. Adrift. Directionless.
We’ve all been there at some point in our personal lives, whether we are business owners or not. As humans, when we are adrift, we rely on ourselves, our character and our instincts, our knowledge, and our past experiences. We use all these things, in varying combinations, as our compass to help get back on course.
As entrepreneurs, when our business is directionless, what do we rely on? We can rely on similar traits to those used when we are adrift in our personal life. Since we are the owners, it stands to reason that we know our businesses better than anyone. Our gut instincts probably played a role in getting our businesses to where they are now. But as our businesses evolve, we run the risk of being too close to everything to see the bigger picture. When we can’t see the wood for the trees, we may need more than instincts to avoid getting marooned. Luckily, in business, we do have a compass available to us.
Our financial data.
Having organized, up-to-date financial records can be the difference between a business that is just surviving and a business that is thriving. One use of data would be to compare different types of income or expense with one another, or with prior months or years. This may help you recognize and understand patterns and adjust accordingly, if necessary. For example, if your product or service is seasonal, could you provide more of your product/service if you hired temporary staff for busy seasons? Would this allow you to negotiate better rates from the suppliers of any products that you sell?
The insights that can be gained from your financial information are invaluable, but they are only useful if bookkeeping is done regularly to keep the information current. If you see keeping your financial records in good order as a chore to be done at the last minute to keep the tax authorities happy, then you could be missing out on a hugely valuable tool. Don’t let your business be marooned without a compass. Use your financial data to guide you and see where you can go.