Of course there are statutory records that the tax man and the VAT man (or lady) will want you to keep. But these are not the records I am talking about. What records should you keep in order to monitor and improve your business?
The HMRC website and your accountant will help you out with the statutory stuff, and I do advise that you make an effort to keep these records meticulously. But here we are talking about all the other records that will help you to grow your business.
When you first set up the business, did you buy yourself a filing cabinet? In the old days, this would have been one of the first purchases, nowadays not so much. So much communication is done electronically obviously and records are often best kept this way too. My next question would therefore be, “what is your back-up and disaster recovery plan?” One reason to keep paper copies of some things.
But let’s look at what records you really need to keep.
Where is the potential money in your business? Your prospects and customers. So the first records should be:
1 Customer records
Not just their name, but as much as you possible can. How they came to you, about them as a person in order to profile your ideal customer.
Personal details might include birthdays, details of children’s ages and birthdays. If the customer is a man, perhaps the wedding anniversary so you can remind him in good time…haha. He might thank you for that.
Anything that gets you closer to understanding your client, so you can really fulfill their needs and wants to the very best of your ability, not to mention keeping yourself in their view and thought of favourably.
2 Prospect lists (Your ‘LIST’)
So many times I ask business owners “how many people on your prospect list?” and the response is somewhere between “what?” and “I don’t know, but I’ve got lots of business cards and various lists”.
I remember a poster in a sales office many years ago which read “A man with no prospects, has no prospects.” A constantly growing list of prospects is the life blood of a successful business. And I don’t mean Facebook “Likes”. Until they have given you their email address or connected with you in some meaningful way, these are really not prospects, yet. “The money is in the List”
In this day and age, your prospects really need to be in a database, preferably with an emailing facility (an auto-responder).
Supplement these records with accurate sales and sales conversion records.
3 Sales conversion records
How many people did you speak to compared with how many people bought? How many people came into your shop compared with your takings? How many visitors to your website compared with the number of people who signed up to your list or bought off the page? How many emails did you send compared with how many purchases?
Knowing these numbers, how they vary, what is constant, etc. will allow to predict your business and understand how many prospects you need to hit your revenue targets.
4 Sales value records
What was the average value of a sale? Of course this, as well as some of the numbers above, may be complicated if you have a large number of products or a complex business model, but you have to start somewhere.
How many times do customer come back to you, over what period?
Once you know these numbers, even if only for segments of your business at first, you will be able to focus on improving each number in turn. A few small improvements to these figures will quickly multiply your revenue.
2 lists and 2 sets of numbers. These would be a very good starting point if you wish to really improve your business results.
What other records do you keep? Do comment below and let’s build out a really valuable set of records.
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