Know Your Numbers

As a US based tech company, if someone were to ask which language we would use to be able to communicate with the most people around the world, “English” would probably be the expected answer. While English is second only to Mandarin Chinese (the most spoken language in the world), communicating nonverbally through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would serve as a more universally effective method. Regardless of whether the person on the other end of the conversation can speak the same language, anyone can relate through numbers.

In business, numbers are considerably more important. From margins to revenue and analytics, companies live and die by their numbers. Some of my favorite businesses have closed, not due to a lack of quality in their product or service, but because they failed to understand how to properly manage and utilize numbers. Sadly enough, companies with millions of dollars in revenue can still have little to no profit. Likewise, companies can often easily fail to deliver on the value proposition of their product or service.

As I continue to help Talixa develop and grow through refining our business processes and my own social media processes (specifically twitter for the time being), I constantly am looking to see what the numbers can tell me. Experimenting is one of the best ways to learn, because it leads to a wider range of experience. Individuals, businesses, and organizations can develop and grow simply by taking action upon an understanding that numbers are a priority.

Looking for advice based on anything I’ve said? I’m happy to give it, free of charge. Reach out using any of these methods:

DM Talixa on Twitter: twitter.com/TalixaSoftware
Message Nick on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/nick-gordon
Email Nick: nick@talixa.com

Organizational Aspirations

Throughout my life, I have observed that there are two types of people out there – those who aspire to excellence and those who are content to get by. This extends to businesses as well. For example, consider Chick-fil-a. Just like McDonald’s or Burger King, Chick-fil-a is a fast food joint.  But unlike their competitors, it’s apparent that Chick-fil-a aspires to be something more. You see it in the quality of their staff and the quality of their food. As far as fast food goes, Chick-fil-a is the gold standard of excellence in all that they do.

Unfortunately, there are too few businesses out there striving for excellence. Companies try to cut corners, find the cheapest bidder, outsource their call centers to people who struggle to speak English, or engage in other practices that show anything but excellence. These companies try to gain our confidence but they never will. We may use their products and services, but only when we’re looking for a cheap solution. Indeed, these companies have turned their products and services into commodities differentiated by nothing but cost.

When people look at the goods and services your company offers, what do they see? Are you an organization demonstrating excellence in all you do, or a another in a long list of organizations content to push the mediocre?

Contagious Generosity

Social experiments are rather interesting. Looking back at my high school senior project from a number of years ago, I had almost finished preparing a research presentation about how collaboration, gratitude, and generosity are integral to the success of individuals, businesses, and organizations. As I stared at my screen, however, I felt as though something was missing. While the research was both accurate and interesting to me, I had my doubts that anybody else would care. Why would they? After finding out that I would be one of the first presenters, I quickly devised a plan that involved some scheming and a trip to the store.

From the start of my presentation, the other students could see that I brought a few shopping bags full of something, and it caught their attention. When the time came I unveiled the great mystery and passed around several different bags of candy to different groups of students. To go along with the candy were some very specific instructions. I not only gave each group the option to do with their candy as they pleased but also informed them that groups would go one at a time.

The first and last groups were the most interesting to watch, because the first group had the opportunity to set the trend of sharing their candy, while the last group had complete freedom to keep their own candy in addition to what was shared with them. Everyone willingly shared, and they ended up with a better variety of candies than they started with. As others presented in the following weeks, quite a number of them brought in more candy as well. I was pleased that a simple activity caused my presentation to become more memorable and effective.

In applying these principles to helping businesses develop and grow, I can’t help but relate this experience to what I see with Talixa. We hire people who offer something unique in certain areas and constantly fill in our gaps. The company has grown by focusing on serving others to the best of our ability, while delivering maximum value and doing the job the right way the first time. Our team has proven time and time again that our services greatly exceed the minimum requirements. I urge you to start implementing new ways to reach more people with your generosity, and prepare to watch your business grow.

Making Money

We all want to make money. While we know that “money can’t buy happiness”, it’s a whole lot harder to be happy when you are struggling to get by. So, how do we make money? As a business owner, I have been forced to think about how money is earned – not only by me but by those in my organization. I concluded these are current three ways that money is generated within my small business.

Perform Billable Work. The first and simplest way to make money is simply to perform work that will be paid for by someone else. In the software industry, this means writing code. In other businesses, it means performing the work that defines the function of the organization. This is the most visible way to generate revenue. These are also the easiest to consider hiring as their efforts directly generate revenue.

Bring In New Customers. Organizations can only grow and thrive if new customers are coming onboard. The best software staff in the world can’t work if there’s no work to be done. While bringing in new customers doesn’t necessarily generate revenue, it fills the pipeline of billable work that is needed to keep a business moving forward. As these staff members don’t directly generate revenue, they are more appropriate to hire based on commission.

Free Up Time of Others. The third way to generate revenue within an organization is to enable others to accomplish their mission unimpeded. Secretaries, assistants, human resources, accounting, are examples of this. They perform work that frees others do to billable work. This is even more apparent in a small business. My personal assistant does all the little things that need done so I can focus on billable work. These staff members are the hardest to hire as they must be paid from the money generated by other staff. However, the time they free for billable staff can make them easily worth well beyond the salary they receive.

As an employee, where do you fit in within your organization? How much revenue do you generate for your organization? Is it directly or indirectly generated? If you know the answers to those questions, you can better understand your value within an organization.

Goals Not Resolutions!

As the new year begins, many of us will be making resolutions. “I’m quitting smoking” or “I’m going to the gym every day”. Typically, these resolutions don’t last into February. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we believe that, magically, just because the year changed our behaviors will change too. This year, instead of focusing on a resolution, why not set measurable goals for the year. For example, instead of a resolution that says “I’ll quit smoking”, you instead set a measurable goal such as “I am going to smoke two less cigarettes each month until I have quit this fall”.

Resolutions frustrate us because we see ourselves as failures when we mess up. When we want to quit smoking, after we’ve messed up once or twice, we abandon the resolution and continue with the old behavior. When we set goals instead, we innately recognize that we have a road to travel to reach our destination. We also acknowledge that there will be bumps along the way on the road to success. A setback today does not end our journey – it merely means we need to keep trying and working harder to reach our goals.

Where you find yourself next January will be determined by what you do this year. If you focus on resolutions, you’ll be in the same place next year with similar resolutions. If, instead, you focus on goals; you’ll start to see your life progress in the direction you want.