3 Easy But Highly Effective Ways To Keep Tabs On Your Business (From A 30,000 Foot Perspective)

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One of the most challenging parts of running a company is the simple act of keeping up with all the different moving pieces. Client deliverables, internal accounting, onboarding, training new employees, invoicing, sales–it’s a never-ending list. And sure, you can appoint people to oversee different departments and do some of the heavy lifting, but the truth is, if anything goes wrong, it’s you (Founder) whose shoulders it falls on.

Where most companies tend to fail, then, has very little to do with talent. It’s similar to a sports team of all-stars who can’t seem to figure out how to work together. You could have the best accountant, the best sales manager, the best design team and copywriting team and creative team, but if they can’t all work together, then you don’t have a business. You have a fire–and you’re the fire chief, with all of your time spent fixing disasters.

But most of the time, those disasters are avoidable. Teams, departments, and even entire businesses tend to struggle because of one very simple challenge: organization. A disorganized company full of talented people is a headache, while an organized company of seemingly average employees will run like a well-oiled machine.

As a founder, CEO, or even middle manager, part of being a successful leader is knowing how to keep tabs on everything that’s going on, and putting checks and balances in place to catch problems before they arise. If you don’t have systems like this set up from the start, you’re always going to be playing catch up–instead of being able to go on the offense and actually build your business.

So, how can you always keep one eye on everything that’s happening within your company, at all times?

1. Set weekly meetings that have a very, very clear purpose.

It’s funny because the entire purpose of weekly meetings and check-ins is to give the leadership team a 30,000 foot perspective of what’s going on within the company. Unfortunately, they rarely turn out that way. Instead of giving people good insight into how things are coming along, meetings end up being a celebration of Attention Deficit Disorder.

There’s no value in spouting of anything and everything that’s going on. These meetings need to have a clear purpose.

A book I really love on this topic is Cameron Herold’s, Meetings Suck. Herold is a business growth coach and recognized speaker, and his book essentially explains that the reason company meetings fail so often is because the people holding the meetings don’t set the right expectations. In a nutshell: not everyone can hold a great meeting. That’s another soft skill, and it takes time and practice in order to execute well.

If you want a high-level analysis of your business, then you need to set that expectation with your team: 30 minutes, review these 3 items, ten minutes for problem-solving, done.

2. Use a business dashboard to avoid logging into 20 different accounts.

You’ve never seen disorganization until you’ve stepped inside a digital marketing agency.

Especially if your line of work involves dozens of different digital platforms, project management tools, social media accounts, analytics trackers, etc., then one of the best investments you could possibly make is in a business dashboard.

One of the benefits of the digital age (and the direction it is moving) is the ease with which so many different platforms can easily be connected. Cyfe, for example, is a business dashboard that integrates with everything from Facebook, Google Analytics, Gmail, Shopify, QuickBooks, and EventBrite, to Stripe, Bitly, and dozens upon dozens of other platforms. Think Hootsuite, but for everything. It is an extremely simple and easy to use interface, and ends up saving hours when you think about how many times you have to log in to each one of those accounts.

The other benefit of using a business dashboard is the fact that you can keep track of and measure the roles and responsibilities within your company–and then process reports (which someone else on your team can provide at your weekly check-in meeting, for example).

This is not for just big companies either. You’d be surprised how many 10-man operations struggle because of internal inefficiencies that can easily be avoided. Which means that you, the founder, can look at one big, general overview of everything that’s happening, instead of going account to account, platform to platform, searching for your answer.

3. Create systems–not just individual deliverables.

One of the best movies I’ve seen this year has been The Founder, the story of how the McDonald’s empire came to be.

What impressed me so much about the story was the relentless dedication not just to making a burger, but the system with which that burger was made in the first place. It’s the system that was scaled. It’s the system that was monitored. It’s the system that was refined and perfected–not necessarily the burger itself. Apply that kind of thinking to any business, and that’s how you scale.

Which means, as your company’s leader, it’s imperative that you not get lost in the weeds, and instead stay looking at the business from that top-down perspective. The burger, yeah, you can make it better over time, but it’s the system that needs the most work.

So, for example, your sales department needs a process–and at this point, you should be using a piece of software, like Hubspot, to keep everything organized (and again, provide you with high-level perspectives of what’s happening, who is in the pipeline, etc.). Hubspot has some serious sales tools, and can make it very easy for your leadership team to see who is a prospect, who has received a proposal, who is sitting on a contract, and who has ultimately signed on as a client. Then your marketing department needs a process. Give them their deliverables, give them their business dashboard to oversee everything (which you will also watch closely), and then spend your time refining the process–that’s where your time is best spent.

Every single thing in your business needs a process. And the more you can put your team (and yourself) in a position to clearly understand what that process is, and how success will be measured, the faster and more effectively you will be able to scale.

But without a process, you’ll spend hours searching for what went wrong, where.