Sometimes Numbers Just Happen To You

Sometimes numbers just happen to you, and that can be good or bad. When I say numbers, I’m talking about business revenue. Cash that is funneling into your business and paying the salary of all 10, 40, 100, 1000 of your employees. Cash that is taking your business to the next level, or helping you to keep the lights on. While we all want access and control of the magic levers that can bring in more revenue, the truth is, sometimes we have no control.

Let’s take a step back. Of course we want control and sometimes we have it. We have plans we execute on, we have goals we’re working toward, we’re hiring the right people to fill the right roles that are going to come up with creative and engaging ways to get new customers, to make more off the customers we already have, and to find new ways to generate revenue. Even if we’re doing the right things, we’re working toward the right goals, anomalies can happen. Anomalies happen, and that is when many people feel like they have no control.

Let’s start with the bad. Everything is going great in a business, you’re on the up and up and suddenly one month things tank. Everyone is up in arms trying to figure out the issue. You have 5 people working through 15 hypotheses around what could have happened. Everyone comes up empty handed. You don’t have any action items or things that you really believe will fix the issue. Maybe you chalk the issue up to seasonality. But the issue is out of your control. There is no immediate fix, there is no lever. You’re forced to say the dreaded words to your boss, or their boss – “I don’t know how to fix this”.

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If you’re like me, this drives you nuts. You want everything to be in your control. You want to have the levers, you want to fix it. But sometimes, patience can be a virtue. Sometimes you have to come to the realization that you can’t react to every issue. Some issues require patience and some issues might fix themselves. We all want to react, we’re wired that way as humans. Every hour, day, week that goes by is another amount of time that you’re losing revenue for your business.

In business, time is a virtue. In life, time is a virtue. But so is patience. Sometimes if you react too soon and just start testing into your hypothesis, it will actually only hurt the business. Don’t get me wrong – if issues arise, you should always look into them, you should always spend some time going down a hypothesis rabbit hole, but you should also know when you should just sit back and be patient.

Anomalies can happen both ways though. Sometimes a stellar month happens, and we really didn’t do anything different, but we want to take the credit. Revenue is up this month by 50%. Yep, it must have been that new creative thing we did, that we can’t really prove had any impact, but we’ll chalk it up to that. Of course, on these stellar months, there are less questions asked. I’ve definitely been guilty of taking credits these months, smiling and high-fiving, even though I’m not sure I had real impact.

It’s hard to take the blame for things that you truly feel are out of your control, but easy to take credit for things that you may have not impacted. But as a friend of mine quotes from a friend of his “In your career, you’re going to get a lot of blame for things that aren’t your fault. so when you get credit for something that maybe you didn’t do all by yourself, take it.”

Marketing friends, biz-op friends, sales friends; Sometimes there is no explanation, sometimes numbers just happen to you. You can be a genius, a mathematician, a scientist and still not have all of the answers. We’re all here together wishing we had the levers, the magic, the fix.

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