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Using Your Business Numbers for Success

Friday, January 09, 2015

Using Your Business Numbers for Success

by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director


As one year comes to a close, it’s a good time to make a plan for the year to come.  Fortunately, it’s also the time of year when businesses are forced to look at their numbers because Uncle Sam requires them to. (For the record, I am a strong proponent that you look at the numbers for your purposes and more often than once a year.)


While numbers may not ‘be your thing’, successful business owners figure out a way to understand their numbers and use them to their advantage.  You don’t need to do a full blown financial analysis to get some benefits here.  Just considering certain parts of your numbers can be helpful in understanding and growing your business.  Here are some examples:


Delve into your sales and get to know where your business is coming from.  Do you have sales concentrated in just a few customers?  What percentage of your sales come from each of your product lines and how have they been changing over the past couple years?


Look at your pricing.  How much has the cost of your raw materials/inventory increased over the past year.  Have you raised your prices accordingly?  How do your prices compare to your competitors for like goods and services?  Are there other ways you could package/price your product that appeals to new customers such as rent to own, leasing, maintenance contracts or subscription pricing?


Look at your labor – particularly in a service or production industry.  How productive is your labor pool?  Are there benchmarks you can share with your team to increase productivity? 


Review your overhead.  Most expenses tend to grow over time just because no one is really paying attention.  Are all expenses necessary?  Are there new service choices that didn’t exist when you started your business that could be a cost savings?  Are you paying for more space or equipment then you really need? 


Just choosing one of these areas as the focus for the year can reap benefits for your business.  Pick a new area next year and before you know it, you’re using your financial information year around to make good decisions for your business!  Now that’s a new year’s resolution that keeps on giving! 


Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses.  She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or  The Center is hosted by GROW South Dakota (also known as Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program).

Category: GROW SD

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