Are Your Business Decisions Based on Fact or Gut?

In my previous life, I ran a $3 million IT services company. Determining where we were in each sales cycle, when our operations center would be backlogged before it happened, and where our cash flow would be 30, 60, and 90 days out were the kinds of things we were always striving for. For most of the time that we ran the company, these were gut checks. We could hope that we were making a good guess but we rarely had a lot to back it up.

How does a management team go about figuring this out? Knowing your past and current state, in most cases, is just not enough. It’s a start to look at a graph of these (typically created in Excel or a similar tool), but what you typically end up seeing is a graph that is kind of all over the place. If you are a small company using cash, rather than accrual, accounting it is even worse with the cyclical nature of a cash accounting system. In any case, it is very difficult to see much in the way of trends. What can you do to get around this issue and really be able to see what is happening in your business? Read the rest of this entry »

The Role of Customers and Focus Groups in Product Development

I’ll start this post out by saying that I’m not attempting to formulate any kind of a commitment to the title of this posting, but to put it out there and hope for comment.

We’ve now been developing the our product for several months and it is really coming together nicely. I’m excited more and more every day as I see the functionality come around. But we’ve been questioning ourselves as to how and when we might be able to bring others into our development process. Some people have said that we should bring outside “potential customers” in as early as possible to help flesh out the overall functionality of the product. Others have recommended that we wait until the basic functionality is there in order to offer the outside advisors a stronger view of our vision of the product. Read the rest of this entry »