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What every business should know about itself

Written 27 September, 2018, 4 minutes to read

In business, self-knowledge is everything; you can’t function – let alone grow – without it. Conveniently, this can be reduced to one neat set of information. Going beyond the obvious – like being aware of your cash flow situation and knowing your target market – this list shines a light on the less overt, but equally important factors that every business should know about itself.

Company culture

Never underestimate the power of culture; if you don’t have a robust one, don’t expect to get far. Primarily, you need to understand:

  • Why your business exists: surely you’re in this beyond just making money. Clarifying your company’s core ambitions and goals helps people rally together in a shared sense of purpose. It creates direction for your decisions, explains what you’re working to achieve and provides essential motivation. It’s essential for justifying why people would ever want to work for you.

  • What your business values: to work effectively together, employees need to buy into what you’re selling. Company values define the environment people work in, how they work together and what they can expect from you. It’s hugely important for employees, who work better when their own needs “fit” with your own.

Realize that setting a company culture goes far beyond attracting and retaining the right candidates; many clients prefer to give their business to organizations they believe have ethics, passion and positive purpose. Besides, you yourself need to know why you’re pouring hours of your life into your business.

Employee performance

Every business should have a basic grasp on how its employees are doing. As your greatest asset and investment, you need to ensure employees are actually working well in your business. Keep track of these employee performance KPIs to measure the productivity and efficiency of your people:

Revenue per employee: the rudimentary indicator of what each team member brings in. You can’t understand your business profitability without it – and whether your workforce is costing you more than they make.

Employee billable percentage: this shows how much direct profit each employee produces, breaking down their time ratio for billable and non-billable work. (Just remember non-billable work is profitable too).

Average task completion rate: this provides a great benchmark for efficiency, by showing how long specific project tasks and phases tend to take. It’s essential for being able to estimate new work for a guaranteed profitable return.

Overtime per employee: always keep an eye on overtime; it can tell you whether you need more staff, whether someone’s close to burnout and even reveal deeper structural issues tied to company culture that you need to address.

Employee capacity: similar to overtime, this employee KPI is super useful for managing your team resources effectively – instantly see who need support and who has extra room to help out. If everyone is at full capacity, you’ll likely need another pair of hands to grow the business.

It’s not an exhaustive list – different companies want to know different things about employee performance. Check out these extra employee performance KPIs for inspiration.

Where business time goes

Business management 101: you can’t improve how your business operates without knowing how it actually spends its time. What gets measured gets managed, after all. As a rule, you every business should know:

  • All the activities the business spends time doing
  • The total hours each employee logs to the business
  • The specific tasks employees are working on
  • How long different projects take
  • Where internal time goes
  • How time is spread between different clients
  • Your business’ billable to non-billable time ratio

A tall order? Not any moresophisticated automatic time tracking tools can now track and represent all this time data for you. They can track what each employee works on in the background for a complete and accurate log of your business’ time. See what blocks productivity, where you need to refocus priorities and where you can improve workflows – understanding the processes, tasks and clients that drain profit and productivity.

Employee happiness

Aside from being an actual compassionate employer, you should take a fundamental interest in your team’s wellbeing. Many large corporations are finally beinging to treat it as a priority; Japanese tech giant Hitachi has even introduced a new happiness badge to track team members’ well-being.

Why? Because if your employees are happy your business will thrive, with research revealing that happy employees are up to 20% more productive and also miss fewer days than unhappy ones. This essentially, this comes down to feeling valued and useful. People want to feel like they matter, that the work they’re doing is meaningful and that they’re helping move the business forward.

So how do you do it? Don’t just leave it to annual satisfaction surveys. Get to know your team members as people and create room for open, honest discussion. Share your successes and put resources into actually spending time together beyond work. Don’t underestimate the power of human connection, even in the workplace – forming strong work friendships alone boosts employee satisfaction by 50%!

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