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Skills to Being a Better Entrepreneur: Part 4

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Skill #4: Financial and Employee Management is Daily Task

Do you know how much cash you have in the bank? Do you know who owes you money and how late their payments are? What’s your sales pipeline look like? Who’s the person in your business most likely to leave in the next 6 months? What projects are profitable and which will lose money?

If I called you any time night or day would you have these answers at your fingertips? The only way you can know these things is to have systems which are updated daily. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is you need to know what’s going on every day. Don’t wait for the monthly management meeting or the annual sales conference to get the bad news. Know every day how the business is doing.

We use a series of very inexpensive web-based tools, project management systems and processes to monitor our business. We’ve even gone so far at to use our iPhone’s to monitor or bank accounts, projects and profitability. On a recent trip overseas I was able to check in on the team and the fifteen or so project we were working on. In about 5 minutes I was able to check on the work progress, project and employee profitability, accounts receivable and payable and cash flow.

We use a daily list of tasks to manage everyone’s schedule. These tasks are broken down into simple daily to-do lists. Each morning a team member will check the backlog and know exactly what their priorities are. The managers can check the aggregated to-do lists, called universal backlogs, and see who is doing what.

backlog_detail

If you’re a manager you need to be spending about 30 – 40% of your day working directly with your team members. This might be a series of short meetings or updates. On the days that I’m in the office I walk around and ask each person a series of informal questions. Some examples are,  “what are you working on?”, “anything you need help with?”, “any client or project issues that you need some help with?”, “is there anything blocking you from getting your project done?” and “have you spoken to your client contacts recently?” I find that by doing this daily I can solve lots of small issues instead of waiting until review time when the issue has now become a monumental festering problem.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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