Leadership and the Numbers

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 05:52 AM with 3 comments

After a session of entering receipts and generating invoices in QuickBooks, I will always run financial reports to see how Dunkirk Systems is doing. These reports not only tell me what my revenues are, but the price of doing business in the cost of goods sold and expenses incurred along the way. Though I am very close to every financial decision made, it is good to see it all together in a big-picture format.

Like any good small businessperson, I am never satisfied with the numbers. But what can I do about it? Are my products and services being offered at a fair price that the market can bear? Can I charge more? Should I charge more? And why are my costs what they are? Could I get a better price on services? And who would be offering those services? Then there is the all important question – where am I paying more for a particular service or for a service overall that I do not need, both in its cost and in the people involved in delivering it?

The answers to these questions and others pertaining to pricing and costs do not necessarily come with quick answers, and require thoughtful analysis and sometimes hard decision-making. But I did not start a small business to make things easy, did I? This part of leading a small business is one many people do not realize is required as they venture into it. It is also one they do not like to perform and may struggle with. But as the leader of a small business it is one they must do and do thoroughly. Focusing on solely revenues and not expenses or vice versa can have a negative effect on the vitality of the small business.

Now, if you substitute “small business” for any other entity type, does the above still make sense? What if I swapped in “corporation” or “non-profit organization” or even “government agency” would what I said still apply?

My goal with The Hot Iron is to write about issues impacting small business and technology and in the past have opted against delving into politics. However I do not live in a bubble, rather in the City of Chicago in Cook County in the state of Illinois in the US. Proposed tax increases by the city, county and state could increase varying taxes and fees to some of the highest levels in the US. Where the intent is to fund services, it could make existence in this great city unbearable.

So I ask the leaders of where I live – please swap your title and governing body in the above text and provide detailed answers to the questions. This leadership is the minimum requirement you need to provide to your constituents, many of whom are very accustomed to doing this for themselves.

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