Few things fuel stress like feeling out of control. As a business owner or manager, chances are there will be times you feel out of control. And sometimes, that’s OK. There will always be some things that are outside your control, and trying to influence those things is unlikely to end well. But it’s important to recognise where you DO have the ability to be in control, and see the impact that those areas can have across your workforce.
You can’t micromanage every aspect of the business and you need to trust your team to do their thing. But having visibility of the critical factors can make it much easier to let go of the small stuff and retain better balance in your life without ending up in panic mode.
Key metrics, relevant to your role
Which are the figures that keep you up at night? Whether it’s sales, invoicing, stock control, customer insights or logistic, having quick and easy access to the metrics which accurately reflect what’s happening in your business is key.
Sure, some of the external factors causing the numbers to be the way they are might be outside your control (the last 18 months have been a stark reminder of that!) But once you can see where you’re at, you can make informed decisions quickly and confidently.
Having accurate figures relies on a strong business system, consistently adopted processes across the business and an accessible interface which allows you to see the numbers that matter most at a glance. Having to spend valuable time wading through endless mazes of spreadsheets and sales reports is not a great start!
Being able to generate accurate reports about all areas of business performance simply and quickly is a relief for everyone, and means you can keep on top of the business day-to-day without it taking over every minute of your life.
It’s also important that you have the control to customise the metrics you see. Too much information can be overwhelming, so being able to tailor your everyday dashboard to ensure that you’re seeing the most relevant figures for your area of the business helps to sift through the “noise” and get right to the heart of what matters.
Confidence in the numbers
So, you’ve got access to the numbers – but can you trust them?
We know as well as you do that stock figures aren’t always 100% accurate. Even if you checked everything yourself last week, mistakes can happen, like mis-counts, delivery errors or missing paperwork.
If everyone is using the same system and the same processes, and that system is integrated throughout the business, there’s less room for error. Also, with features like Stock Confidence, you can actually see how reliable your numbers are immediately, which helps you to focus on the gaps and issues rather than diluting attention across the entire stockholding.
There really are only 24 hours in a day, and hopefully you’re spending decent portion of those either sleeping or not working – so it’s impossible to stay on top of every metric manually.
If the major issues, gaps and potential problems are flagged automatically, it gives you more confidence to be able to focus on other important areas. You don’t always have to be watching out for the shortfalls, the late deliveries or the overdue payments because the system will let you know when you need to know. Likewise, you can programme in the safety nets you need, like margin control and credit issues.
People and performance
As the saying goes, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you have no idea about. Sometimes, in business, the numbers speak for themselves, and being able to see who is struggling can be a huge help in managing your workforce wellbeing and performance.
If a sales manager who is routinely ahead of targets is suddenly falling behind, there might be something else going on. A new starter might need extra support, or a series of absences could signal a different kind of issue. Whatever the scenario, having the key metrics front and centre makes it so much easier to spot performance discrepancies. The sooner an issue is spotted, whether personal or professional, the faster it can be resolved.
Your people are the heart of your business so staying on top of how they’re doing is really important. Of course you can’t “control” them, but if you can easily track how they’re doing, you’ve got a much better chance of spotting trends and patterns that might signal something more serious, either individually or for the wider business.
Check in with yourself and your team
How in control do you NEED to be? This will vary by individual but if you are feeling really out of control a lot of the time, it can be a really stressful place to be. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be in control of everything, and look around at your team for support. Don’t keep these worries bottled up – it’s always better to speak to someone else to get a sense-check. If the issue is in the business performance, being able to see and organise the numbers and KPIs easily will help you identify and solve the problems. Sometimes, it’s hard to trust a team to take over the bigger responsibilities, but again, one person can’t do everything so learning to let go is important.
If you’re struggling with this, try writing a list of things within your control (this can be as basic as diet, exercise, what you choose to wear, who you employ or what processes you implement at work) and which are not in your control. Be honest about whether you are spending time worrying about things you can’t influence – and start looking more closely at the areas you actually can.
Remember, some things in life genuinely are outside your control, and trying to overcome those is a recipe for stress. But having clear visibility of the areas that are within your control can give you a much more solid foundation and bolster your confidence to let those things go and focus your attention on the areas in which you can have the most effective impact.
If you’d like a taste of how simple it can be to take control of your business, register today for a free trial of our digital ERP system, Merchanter.