Businesses do not grow all by themselves. Somebody must make growth happen. That somebody is the top manager in the business, which in a small business is usually the owner. Many small businesses do not grow because the owner spends the majority of his time doing business and very little time managing the business. By that I mean concentrating on delivering whatever product or service the business sells to the exclusion of performing management functions. Doing the work of the business is certainly important, but if the result of concentrating solely on that, is that the business stalls, withers and dies; neither owner nor customer benefits.

Owners or managers should be spending at least 20-25% of their time on management functions. Daily. Those who do not, find it very difficult to change their pattern of behavior. The work of the business is always there and it is easy to see what needs to be done. It is not so easy to see what management tasks need doing. One way to break that pattern is for the owner to create a set of management tasks that are clearly identified and which the performance of is built into a daily routine. If there is no time for them during a normal business work day, then they must be scheduled before or after the business work day. It is useful to have a set of tools that define the management tasks.

Key performance indicators are such a tool. These are specific and measurable indicators of the results of specific pre-planned management actions. They can be broken down into categories such as: marketing indicators, customer service indicators, operations indicators, financial indicators and time management indicators.  I chose five sets because there are five days in the work week (I hear a lot of business owners laughing at that). Each day the owner should schedule time to examine one of those sets of indicators, look at the results and if the goal being measured is not being met, take the time to plan and implement corrective action. In the next one or two columns I will describe some indicators that can be used.