Some people wonder why I carry a roll of field marking ribbon in my backpack. My answer? “Because breadcrumbs will get eaten.” I read the story of Hansel and Gretel, and I know better than to get myself in a predicament, and not be able to find my way back.
I recently read the story of Leigh Kellis, the woman who started the insanely popular local donut shop “The Holy Donut” and how she collects data from her sales to replicate success. Frustrated that she had to donate dozens of one variety of donuts at the end of one day, and yet run out of the same variety the next, she decided to collect data from Holidays, to weather, to local events to be able to analyze the success of her business so she could duplicate it week over week, month over month and year over year. She found a way to replicate her own daily, weekly and yearly success… and, because she has carefully documented every sale, every customer, every day, every trend… she can find her way back should she ever get lost.
When conducting an intake for new clients, I will ask if they have ever achieved the level of success they are now seeking. Often they say “yes, I was once very successful, but something shifted, and I am having a hard time getting back.” … I ask them how they achieved that level of success the first time… and more often than not, they are not able to answer because they didn’t document the steps they took to get there – they forgot their way. They don’t know what combination of moves they made to yield certain results. They didn’t track their marketing efforts, their client habits, or their product. If they were lost in the woods, they would have a hard time getting out, because they didn’t mark their trail. Not only that, but when it came to hiring, delegating, or asking for help, they were completely lost because they didn’t know how to show others how to do what they did. Their potential employees would fall in every pit they fell into, or walk in circles just as they did, because they hadn’t laid out a clear MAP.
Sitting down with my Dad, looking out the picture window of their two story farm house at the 100 acres he and my mother own and manage, it’s no wonder he feels the need to be so organized. He has a journal for every one of the 50 years he has been farming. On any given day, he can tell you what the weather was, what the insect counts were, what seeds he bought and from where, and what and where he planted 25 years ago. He excitedly pushed my arm and pointed to the entries he made when I was six years old, and he had documented the wages I earned for riding the planter, and knocking the sod clots off the planters wheels with a hoe. Years of rich farming history, all cataloged, all preserved for future generations.
He pulled out a leather bound year-book, and thumbed through the dutifully recorded entries. He recalled the last time it rained so heavy in June… he flipped back and read that he and mom had to plant twice that spring … but “We had a bumper crop that year.” He grinned…. he knew what to do this year to mirror his success. Do things always work out perfectly? Can he be guaranteed that he replicates his effort he will succeed? No, of course not – there is always risk, and there is always the unexpected – but he has starting point – a MAP – one that any of us can reference and follow if we so choose. It’s all documented in 50 leather bound books carefully scribed in my fathers handwriting. Why should my business be any different? Why should yours?
This article is part of the #write31days challenge for October 2015. To catch up on the whole series – click HERE.