Want to know how I nearly destroyed my business?
Yep, it’s true.
In 2009, I had a thriving business that was turning over more than 600K, and I almost lost it all because I got lazy.
It’s a pretty personal story, and one I’m not proud of, but I hope that by sharing it with you, it might save you from making the same mistakes that I did.
Watch my video to get the whole messy story on my business near-miss.
Hello! I’m Nikki, The Data Fairy from MeasureWhatWorks.com and today I want to talk to you about the time that I nearly destroyed my business.
So back in 2004 my husband, Paul and I started a business together.
He was out working full time, I was at home looking after our son full time and neither of us was really happy.
So we took the plunge and started a business selling specialist computer hardware.
In the first six months of that business we did $30,000 of turnover but in the next 12 months after that we did $300,000 of turnover and by 2009 we were doing over $600,000 in turnover in that business.
We had four staff, we had warehouse space and offices and all the trappings of success.
By all accounts things were going really well.
And part of the reason we were able to go from our small savings to such a big success in our business was my financial management skills.
I kept a close eye on the numbers, I made every dollar go as far as it possibly could and by doing that it allowed our business to grow to the size it was.
But then something happened.
Around about the same time, in 2009, I stopped wanting to look at my numbers.
I don’t even still know what it was that happened but for some reason I just didn’t want to look.
Things were going well, you know I was spending money, we were riding high on our success and I just got sick of having to check in with the numbers, so I stopped.
I stopped looking at the numbers.
Sure I had a sense of the overall general stuff but I wasn’t being careful.
And by 2010 our business had started to go downhill but I didn’t know.
I had a general sense that maybe things weren’t going quite as strongly as they could have been, we weren’t growing any more, but you know things were still fine, “she’ll be right”.
But it kept going downhill and I didn’t realise.
And then we had kind of a big aha moment in 2012 where we realised that if we kept going the way that we were going we we’re gonna go out backwards.
And so we called all of our staff in and we sent them home, and we said I’m sorry we just can’t afford to keep you.
It was one of the hardest things I ever did and we never had those staff back, we could never afford to bring them back.
So we went from being this thriving success to this train wreck all because I stopped looking at what was happening.
I was avoiding the truth because I stuck my head in the sand.
We almost lost our business and those, that time after, for the first couple of years, was really hard.
I had to work so hard.
I went back to looking at my numbers and I worked them really hard.
I kept track of every cent, I paid bills at the last possible minute, I made payment plans, we had bills we couldn’t afford, we cut down all the expenses we went back to absolute minimum, and we were seriously in debt at that point.
Credit card debt, overdrafts.
It was hell…
It was a really hard time, incredibly stressful, so stressful financially you know, it just affected every area of our lives.
And there were times we didn’t think we were going to make it through.
We thought about it a couple of times, about just shutting shop and walking away because it was just too much, but we didn’t know what else we’re gonna do.
So I’m very glad to say that through my careful financial management following that period we managed to turn things around.
We got back to a point now where our debt has come down and we’re back to kind of where we were before all of this happened.
But it’s taken us four years to get to that point.
So we had this great start we let it slide and now we’ve had to work to get it back to where it was and that was a really hard thing to have to go through.
And I realize now that the reason it happened was because I stopped looking.
I was ignoring what was happening. I wasn’t keeping a handle on my numbers.
So I have a question for you.
I’d like to know how in control you feel of your numbers. And in fact I’d like to give you an exercise.
I’d like you to rate how in control you feel of your numbers on a scale from one to ten, where one is:
- “I have no idea what my numbers are. I hate looking at them and I’m just going to ignore them and hope everything goes OK”
all the way up to 10 where it’s like:
- “Yes, I know what they are and that they’re good, they’re thriving, they’re growing, they’re going in the direction I want them to, I could rattle off all the stats about my business if you asked me.”
Where are you on that scale from one to ten?
For me I’d say I’m about an eight or nine.
I know most of the numbers, I’ve got a pretty good handle on it there are probably some but I could be digging into a little bit more but I feel like I know where the business is going, I know where it stands, I know what the key figures are in that business, and I know that they’re heading in the right direction.
So what’s your number?
And when you’ve figured out your number, ask yourself, “Is this what I want it to be? Do I feel as in control of my numbers as I would like to feel?”
‘Cause if that number isn’t where you want it to be then what’s it going to take?
What is it gonna take for you to start taking your numbers seriously?
Are you going to have to go through what I went through before you start looking at your numbers and keeping a handle on them on a regular basis?
I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you to have to have a train wreck before you start to say, “OK these numbers are important. I need to know what they are. I need to have a handle on them, and I need to make sure they’re going in the right direction.”
But what is it going to take? What is gonna be your wake up call to say it’s time to do something about this?
And I would love to hear from you, if you would comment on this video and let me know what score you ended up with and what you think it’s going to take.
What is going to be the point at which you say enough is enough, it’s time to do something about this!
So that was a bit of my story about how I almost destroyed my business by sticking my head in the sand and ignoring my numbers and just trusting that everything would figure itself out.
And obviously as you can see that’s not what happened.
I’m very glad to still have our business today and I hope you learned something valuable from this and I would love it if my story could save you from having to go through the same thing.
I will see you in the next video.
Nikki, The Data Fairy
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