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Use Key Success Factors to Manage Your Business

Topic: How-to,Managing Your Business,Tips & Tricks | Comments (5)

Posted on August 19, 2009 by admin

As the owner of a new business, you have several full-time jobs. Many of them deal with the short-term survival of your business; like finding and servicing customers and then collecting and tracking your income and expenses. Some are about ensuring the future of your business, like marketing, budgeting, and basic business planning. With too much to do – and everything depending on you – how should you prioritize your time?

Here’s a plan of attack that I’ve used with thousands of small businesses; establish Key Success Factors (KSFs) for your business – and manage them weekly. Simply stated, a KSF is a narrow definition of a vital priority. It’s not a lengthy analysis in a three-ring binder, but an ultra short summary instead.

What is the right KSF for you? Answer this question to find out: What is the single most important consideration in the survival or growth of your business? If you’re struggling to make ends meet, then it’s probably capital or cash. If your business has sufficient cash flow, then it could be finding new customers. If you’ve got plenty of customers, then it could be planning, budgeting, or hiring.

Since you don’t have the luxury of a single priority, you may be tempted to create KSFs for every aspect of your business, but don’t. Limit yourself to only a few at a time. Pick the single most important accomplishment for your business and attack it. Set a specific short-term objective, think through the activities that are required to achieve that goal, and establish a clear measurement of success for this week.

Then select the next highest priority and repeat the process. Hold yourself accountable to the result, and adjust accordingly. If you’re short of your goal, either increase the quantity or quality of your activities. If you’re ahead of plan, either raise your goal or add another one.

With so much for you to do, make sure you’re focused today on what will keep your business going and growing. If there’s a specific KSF that’s proven particularly useful to you, I’d love to hear about it.

  • Gary Guttman

    Your article addresses what typically might be short term key success factors that are important to track. However, I think there are usually one or two key metrics that remain at the heart of a business. Reporting and tracking those key metrics for the entire employee population helps to keep everyone focused on the daily task as hand. The challenge to the business owner is to find those few core metrics on which to focus.

    • Tate Holt

      Gary: I agree with you completely. If YOU know what your most important target is for the week/month/etc, communicate it with your employees and leverage their efforts.

  • Dhaval

    Prioritization is crucial and I think your article addresses this issue well. Getting overwhelmed with too many short term crucial objectives is to attack and get them out of the way.

  • Jane Neumiller-Bustad

    Good points regarding key success factors. A suggestion: consider adding a box near the top of my (and everyone else’s ) WorkingPoint home page/dashboard where the key success factor of the day/week/month might be listed. Like the other boxes already on the dashboard, the KSF box would be adjustable/removable for maximum flexibility.

    If you’re going to use KSF’s to help guide your business, having them front and center would be helpful.

    • Tate Holt

      Jane: GREAT suggestion — it’s in the works and will be one of your widgets soon!