From Chapter 2 of The Savvy Guide To Making More Money
Take your dreams seriously
What you shouldn't do on a down day, though, is rubbish your dream and listen to the little voice that says 'And just who do you think you are, Mister/Miss Big Bucks?' That's why I'm asking you, right here at the start, to play like the big players. Do multinationals have quarterly reports? You'll have quarterly reports. Do multinationals have board meetings? You'll start to have board meetings, just as I did after just a few months in business. Best of all, you'll have Key Performance Indicators. If you're sniggering already, ask yourself: could it be that using KPIs is what got those big companies to where they are now? Could it be that KPIs can give you a way to make those goalposts visible? Reachable? You bet.
I love to read in the Financial Times about companies turning over billions and dream of what I would do in their situation. I soak up stories of multinationals and the twists and turns of their journeys, because I want to grow our company to a very high level. I have, admittedly, come out with some clangers over the years, when Ardle (my fiance) rolled his eyes at some of my outlandish ideas. I remember bounding up the stairs to him one night (that was before we had an office) and asking what he thought of having a 'casual Friday' policy in the company? He said, 'Are you seriously asking me what I would think if you wore a pair of jeans sitting in the room downstairs on a Friday, as opposed to a pair of black trousers?' I remember asking him if he thought we should grow via organic growth or acquisition. I should contextualize by clarifying that we had set up the company the previous day. However, I didn't see why I should wait to think about those things. After all, as the business was a discreet project, I was admitting those things only to him (and now I've let you in on my little secret too...).
Before you think that I live in a fairy-tale land that bears no resemblance to reality, let it be known that sometimes my 'corporate speak' has brought us fantastic results. One Friday in the office I was feeling really down; it seemed I was getting nowhere and I couldn't see how to change that. I felt stuck. We were just about three months into starting the company. I rang Ardle and said, 'Is there any chance we could just meet later this evening, identify what we're really trying to do and then start working on some strategies to move forward?' I christened this dinner our 'board meeting', and we've been having those meetings ever since, each and every Friday night that I'm in the country. Now what if I had said to myself that day, 'We don't turn over millions, so I can't meet my boyfriend that night to figure out what to do next... That would be a board meeting, and I'm not allowed to hold one yet.' Think of all the conversations, developments, reflections and actual productivity that wouldn't have happened because I would have held myself back by thinking, 'That's only what big companies do.' Calling it a board meeting might sound dramatic, but what do I care how it sounds, if the meeting achieves the same objectives as a board meeting? Why wait if something works now? I want to make something happen today, and use tomorrow to build on it. So why not make that first step happen now?
If you feel silly using terms like KPIs, would you still feel silly if you had the salaries of those who work in highly successful companies and who receive six-figure bonuses? They don't have a problem with it - talking about KPIs is just normal to them - and they don't feel that they are mouthing big words. To them, they are just describing what they do (monitoring the progress of their business) in a convenient way.
Personally, I'm always modelling the level that I want to be at and then trying to break it down into a step-by-step journey to get there. Successful businesses use KPIs to make sure they are on target, so there's every reason why I should use them too. Success leaves a trail of evidence. Observe that evidence, then imitate and emulate, and you'll be successful as well. It's just a matter of finding someone to imitate and emulate. (We call them 'role models')