How do tangled fairy lights relate to 10 key areas to pay attention to in business? It is that time of year, when people are getting the christmas tree and putting the holiday decorations up. What does tangled fairy lights have to do with business?

First of all I hear some people saying, “What are fairy lights?” In England, this is the name for the lights that we use to decorate the trees and garlands during the holiday season. When the fairy lights get taken off the tree after the holidays, I’m guessing that they were put away in some kind of organized fashion. Maybe back in the packaging that they were bought in, a zip lock bag, a box, or neatly and tidily coiled up and put away all nice and tidy for the next year. They weren’t put away in a tangled mess. How then, in the course of the year, when nothing has been touched or looked at in that time, did they get in this kind of tangled mess? The lights are all caught up and the wires are all raveled in knots. How did this happen when nobody touched them?

Well, the same questions get asked in business when an incident or problem comes to light. “How did this happen?” “How did we get in this mess?” Sometimes when we don’t look at our business, when key factors are ignored, we end up in a tangle without actually realizing it, and the problem only shows up when something happens. It creeps up on us when we weren’t looking. We may not actually have done anything to create the tangle, or so we thought. What a business coach or executive coach does is look at unraveling the tangles that have occurred over time from daily actions, tasks and processes. We look to see which parts need to be unraveled, changed, redone, just like untangling fairy lights. Then we look to be proactive and see how to prevent the tangles in the first place.

Sometimes when we try to untangle something, we find that there are also external forces hanging on to the other end, pulling them down to an easy reach. Watch the video and you will see my cat Leo doing precisely that. The thing is, when we don’t look at what we are doing in our business and are not keeping track of the key success factors and indicators that can give us some kind of indication or warning, we can end up in a tangle. Some of these tangles are more weighted than others and have more consequences. Just like the sequencing on the electrical wiring, when one bulb goes out, it has a knock on effect on that whole sequence, and the other bulbs go out accordingly. We can also become an easy target and have opportunists taking advantage and grabbing at the loose ends or areas where our business might be seen as vulnerable, or within easy reach of our competition, which ultimately creates more problems for us. In the SWOT analysis, we call this external threats.

Look to see what parts of the business needs attention that may have been neglected for a while. Is it the finances? Is the marketing in the right direction? What are the results that are being achieved from the campaigns or strategies that the business is working towards? Is it that there are employees and there are no processes and systems in place and a lack of communication between individuals? When a business is growing fast, more things tend to get untouched or ignored. Each of these areas will create a problem, and if we are not careful our competitors could come up from behind and pull at those loose and exposed strings of the business which in turn could be a loss of clients, customers or product sales.

10 Key Areas to Monitor & Track in Business

  1. A most important area to keep track of is your financials. Particularly important is the operational costs and gross revenue. Are you spending more than you are earning?
  2. How much does a product really cost to develop or put together? I have seen many times that not all of the hidden costs are accounted for, which could, over time create a significant loss if not monitored. Take for example a restaurant that miscalculates the cost of laundry for linens. This is a costly oversight over time if not accounted for. The miscalculation might only be $1 per table that is reflected, now multiply that by 20 tables, with 2 seatings per night, 6 nights per week for 52 weeks. The grand total at the end of the year is a whopping $12,480!!!!
  3. Have budgets been set? It is amazing to see where money goes and how easy it is to slip through our fingers if it is not monitored appropriately. Set budgets (ask if you don’t know where to begin, I have lessons for that).
  4. Track marketing campaigns. Figure out a way to know where your business is coming from.
  5. Keep track of the sales cycles, average price points and popular items.
  6. Know what doesn’t sell. Where is energy being wasted?
  7. Have a strategic plan of action and follow it. A business plan is so important as a road map to success. Use the business plan as a living working plan of action and change it accordingly on a regular basis as the business develops.
  8. Have policies and boundaries about how things should be done and a chain of command for who to report to.
  9. Make sure that you know how your clients and customers feel. Do they love the product? What else would they like?
  10. Make sure you take advice from experts in their field before you spend money or attempt something that has a risk to it, particularly where the law or where money and people are at risk.

There will also be many other areas to pay attention to, these are just a few. The more that is learned, the more is understood and that leads to opportunities and better decision making. Focus on the information and seek appropriate advise because it could save you pain and financial hardship if ignored.