The practice keeps me grounded.
In weeks when I’m down or discouraged, it helps remind me of wins and celebrations. When I’m excited about a new idea and ready to bet the farm on something untested, coming back to my five numbers reminds me that business is often about slow, steady growth rather than a meteoric rise.
These aren’t necessarily the most important numbers in our business but the process of consistently returning to my weekly dashboard has become one of the most important practices I do in our business.
It is a marker of change for me. Because I used to be afraid of numbers.
Many moons ago, I had an invitation design business. I created custom invitations for weddings and special events. I started from scratch with each client and created something new every single time. Some days I’d embroider butterflies on silk boxes. Other days I would hand-deliver treasure chests filled with live orchids. Looking back, I realize it was sort of crazy. I got to be incredibly creative and I lived for the feeling I had when a couple saw their stationery and said “you totally GOT us!”
But that feeling didn’t pay the bills. And I honestly didn’t know what was paying the bills. I was months (like, at least 6!) behind on bookkeeping constantly. I never knew how much I had made (or lost!) on a given job. I paid for mistakes I made over and over but didn’t develop the process efficiency to avoid them in the future.
When I finally sat down to calculate how much money I was actually making more than four years in, I cried. $4.85 per hour.
I could have worked at McDonald’s and made more money. Yeah, I wouldn’t have had that feeling from my clients. But you know what I would have had? Money to pay the bills!!!!
To be honest, I was ashamed. I think I avoided looking at the numbers for so long because I knew I wasn’t really making any money. And seeing the truth in dollars and cents would affirm the sense that I had that was failing.
Then, at some point, things began to shift for me. I started to realize that when you see the numbers in your business, you are actually just seeing a picture of reality. It is neither good nor bad. It just is. I didn’t have to assign judgement to it.
But I did get to make decisions about it.
Before I actually looked at my numbers, I had NO IDEA where my money was going. So I didn’t know if I was spending more than I wanted to on shipping or not. I wasn’t sure if I’d budgeted correctly for labor. I hadn’t a clue if I was charging enough to cover my costs.
Looking at my numbers allowed me to decide what to do about them. I wasn’t wandering around in the dark anymore hoping that I magically ended up where I wanted to be. I wasn’t stumbling blind crossing my fingers that things worked out.
I got to decide. And if things didn’t work. I got to make changes.
Because when you track your numbers, you get to see the impact of the decisions you make. You get to see the impact of pushing that marketing button or pulling that sales lever. You get to see how your ideas change reality in quantifiable ways. Knowing how your actions make an impact is empowering.
Instead of shame, now when I look at numbers, I feel proud. Don’t get me wrong. The numbers aren’t always going in the direction I want them to. But I feel proud because I can see one way that the work I’m doing in the world is making a difference.
Looking at my numbers each week doesn’t give me the same feeling I had when clients said “You totally GOT us!” but it does give me the amazing knowledge that I’ve totally got this. And that’s pretty great.
HOW TO GET THE “I’VE TOTALLY GOT THIS” FEELING IN YOUR EVENT RENTAL BUSINESS
What are the five numbers you want to track in your rental business? I would probably choose from the following:
- Number of Inquiries
- Payments Received
- Number of Orders
- Delivery Fees
- Conversion Rate (Proposals to Confirmed)
- Average Order Amount
- Value of Orders on the Books
- Instagram Followers
- Email Subscribers
- Payroll Cost
- Gas Receipts
Over time, you might see trends in these numbers. Maybe your Number of Inquiries increases at the same rate as your Instagram Followers (but trails by three weeks). Or perhaps you’ll see that when you increase your Number of Inquiries your Conversion Rate goes down but your Average Order Amount goes up. I don’t know which numbers will have correlations and what might be causal. But you’ll never know if you don’t track them.
To help you on your Become-Empowered-By-Your-Numbers Journey, here are some resources you’ll want to check out:
- RW Elephant Report Decoder
- Our latest Update included more flexibility in our Reports feature
- Dashboard Quick Metrics
- Weekly Dashboard Report
- Monthly Dashboard Report