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"You Are What the Scoreboard Says You Are..." But You Can Change the Score!

A great quote from a great NFL coach, Bill Parcells (who actually paraphrased it from an equally great coach, Vince Lombardi). It's a philosophy that can serve entrepreneurs and young companies very well because it takes things down to the lowest common denominator...results! And, a scoreboard isn't the least bit subjective. While it's reality in its starkest form, it's always a reflective measure of things that have happened and where things are. But the major difference is that a game has a finite end. A business ends...well, when it ends.So you can almost always do something more to affect the outcome.

But it still remains that the using a scoreboard metaphor is the most objective judge of who you are and where you are. It provides, you the entrepreneur, a foundation for knowing where you want to be and how to get there. And the scoreboard should measure more than just revenue and profits.

In fact, there are multiple scoreboards that you should track in business.  Externally - Customers, Suppliers. Market/Competitors; Internally - Employees, Finances. They will tell you how much work you have to do to "change the score." Let's look at how you "work" the scoreboard for each.

External - Customers
This scoreboard measures customer satisfaction, but it has to be the customer who is keeping score. And it has multiple touch points from sale to implementation to support to solving customer problems/filling customer needs. Do you know what the score is, from your customer's vantage point in each of these areas?Ever survey your customer base? Not just some big and squishy survey with softball questions (I'm just full of sports analogies), but very pointed questions, like right after a sale; or right after a colossal screw-up (and I'm sure no matter how young your company, you've already had at least one), or, selectively visit and interview random customers, really trying to understand what kind of "score" they would give you.

External - Suppliers
The scoreboard here measures the mutual benefit of the relationship. Wherever possible, you have to take the subjectivity out of this. How much does their on-time delivery mean to your ultimate customer satisfaction (you can learn this from your own customers' feeling about your delivery)? Or, how much does their working with you to make your product more manufacturable, help improve your overall product quality or your overall profit margin? How much does your working within their manufacturing schedule help them help you deliver a better product to your customer? Just a few ideas, a little tougher to gauge but enough to gather real data with real objectivity.

External - Market/Competitors
Social media is the best scoreboard here. Use either Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, if not all of them, to get a "level set" of how the market views your company and its products and services. It doesn't have to be an actual survey, but it could start with an innocuous comment on any of your pages or in a discussion group that asks for feedback, or asks for comparisons with competitors.You're hanging it right out there, but better you know the "score," so you know if you are really "behind in the game." You also can use trade shows as another way to gauge this scoreboard, but you should have independent third party folks gather your data for you, which could be expensive, but it's not unlike the "shopping" suggestion I made in an earlier post and maybe with a local show, you can use that process.

Internal - Employees
This is a critical scoreboard and often drives all the others. But few companies, continually "watch" the employee scoreboard - that is, how your employees rate you and your company relative to culture, job satisfaction, growth and future potential.In short, is this just a job for them or do they feel they are they part of something bigger. And the smaller your company, the more important this is.Sounds backwards, right?No, that's where it starts. With the very first employee and the open communications that effectively drives your scoreboard. And then you need to continually talk to them one-on-one (I used to do it at least once a year with every employee in companies with as many as 200 people) to really understand how you're doing.

Internal - Finances
This is the scoreboard that most every entrepreneur tracks. It is the least forgiving and the one that is the most objective. You're generating a certain level of revenue or you're not; either making money or you're not.You can try to interpret the numbers any way you want, but they are what they are. What you need to know is what drives those numbers and since they are the reality of what was and what is, what you need to do to improve on them. And most important, they are the results of all of the other results. The big scoreboard that reflects all the other ones combined.

While you are what the scoreboard says you are, remember the scoreboard is reflection of where you've been and where you are, not where you can or want to be. Use the scoreboard as the measurement of what needs to be done, not just what has been done and drive your company to meet those objectives.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

What's your scoreboard (or scoreboards) look like? Please share it (them) in your comments.It can help another entrepreneur.

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.

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