I do a lot. If you ask any of my friends or wife about how I spend my time, they’ll say that I’m always busy. You might be like this. It’s common to find entrepreneurs that are driven.

One of the tricky aspects of this aggressive orientation is that when I don’t meet a goal, it’s not because I was sitting on the couch eating potato chips, it’s because a competing goal overshadowed it as a priority.

This is a key challenge in a tiny, sub-25 person business like mine. As the owner-operator, I take on different roles in the business: sales, account management, marketing, financial management, team management, and etc. Each of those roles asks something of my time, energy, and attention.

Beyond these needs, I’m pursuing larger strategic objectives for the business. In pursuing those objectives, it’s easy for their priority to eclipse the needs of the roles I take on. For example, the last three weeks I was focused on executing a referral marketing strategy and responding to a larger sales opportunity. The cost of this focus was that I didn’t review our monthly financial performance or perform some needed account management.

Running a small business is messy and these sorts of trade-offs happen frequently. However, the roles in your business need some level of care. You don’t have to water a plant everyday, but it does need watering at some level of frequency.

If you’re trying to grow, there are some key functions in the business that need more attention on a frequent basis:

  • Sales / leads / cash-in
  • Throughput

It’s important that you have KPI’s, in the form of leading indicators, for these functions. One version of these, is to measure and report on the few activities that have the greatest impact on these functions. For example, if it’s new customers and new customers are developed through cold outreach, you don’t measure new customers, you measure cold outreach efforts per week.

This regular measurement is a simple and effective form of accountability to ensure that your critical routine work is being accomplished (even if it’s not you doing it).

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker