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Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Entrepreneur, Business & (Operational) Numbers Obsession

Tom Evslin comes out with a brilliant post. He replies to the query :

“What is the one thing you do daily which is the key to your success as an entrepreneur?”


Pointing out that in the past he has seen mixed results in terms of success as an entrepreneur and while noting that a successful entrepreneur imbibes factors like irrational exuberance, hard work, leadership, and contrary thinking - he is clear that these are not there to be seen on a daily cycle. He thinks the entrepreneur’s pulse of the business lay in the numbers and the type of metrics that he/she is monitoring is critical. Instead, he claims that it’s an obsession with the daily metrics of whatever business one happens to be in. The numbers obsession meant that one knows about all problems - usually - before customers did and helped understood the business and, by example, created a culture of attention to the metrics and the rhythm of the service. I fully agree with him - numbers can be set to show both lead and lag indicators and matte-of-fact can be disaggregated and rolled up to get different perspectives, depending on the situation at hand. It may also be true that different entrepreneurs may tend to take a different set of view based on same numbers, but, nonetheless, without these no doubt there can never be a sustainably profitable and growth business. The best part of the note is not to have an obsession with daily metrics like watching stock price. I do know of few cases where entrepreneurs/executives focused on just the stock market( after all over a perios of time, the stock price would rely mostly on business performance –barring the once-in-a-while blips) failing to comprehend the signals and losing the critical ability to sense, track & respond to the business needs – in fact I argue that without these, no business can ever hope to be successful.

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