When your Oxygen supply becomes your water leak!
Lessons in business from the fish tank of life.
Those of you who have been to my office, or perhaps seen the background on our Zoom chats, will know that I have a fish tank just behind my desk.
Watching the freshwater mussel wander around the tank is fascinating! (Who knew they moved around so much?)
Anyone who has kept an aquarium knows that regular maintenance is needed. Clean the tank, the filters, test and change a portion of the water. Feed the fish (of course!), re-vegetate or decorate the tank. And at times, deal with illnesses, or restock the tank.
A few weeks ago, after doing a water change in an evening, I came into the office the following morning to find a disaster had occurred.
The oxygen pipe – which ‘bubbles’ Oxygen through the water in the tank – had come loose from its pump.
And left 90 litres of water all over the floor, the carpets and the office floorboards. That was not something that could just be ‘sponged away’.
Some of the fish survived, barely breathing in the shallows under the ‘pipe’, but I also lost more than a few of them.
Thankfully, insurance helped deal with the carpet and floor damage (carpets removed, air dryers in the office for three days, running 24/7 to dry the floor.) And a small replacement tank used to keep a few fish alive while I ‘recovered’ – both mentally and organizationally.
Over the next few days, the incident made me stop and think, OK, what is this telling me?
In terms of the aquarium, it was “Check everything is right and tight,” i.e., all the pipes are connected and in place. Filters cleaned and functioning correctly. All systems checked and working properly. Are there other leaks or concerns that I have missed?
Do I have the information in front of me, and am I regularly looking at it to take corrective action?
Having had the carpets replaced (finally – despite lockdown restrictions) and ‘refurnishing’ the office – When you go back to a bare room, it gives you scope to relook at the whole set-up – It made me think – In the context of business, what is the lesson from this?
As I see it, it is very easy for us to get caught up in ‘doing the do’ and not looking at “what” we do and “how” we are doing it.
We focus on the job at hand, not the follow-up, and then move on to the next job. Have we been paid for past work? Who or what do we owe? What information do I need to supply – (to the taxman, the bank, the accountant, etc.). Do I reallyknow how my business is going?
Did I check back with that client? Or follow up on that enquiry? Have I looked at my processes – are they efficient, or am I missing or taking more steps than I need to? Where am I at, and how easy is it for me to know how I am going?
Am I ‘making do’ until later instead of fixing things now?
For some, the Lockdown period has been an opportunity to reexamine things and how they do them. For others, it may have pushed these actions into the background, so now, as we start to open up again, we find that the ‘pipes are loose’, or the wheels are off-kilter. There are gaps in our processes that need fixing.
From a business point of view, this means having an eye on the financial aspects of your business. Having the key data that you need to be aware of, to keep you on track.
With The Xero accounting system, there is a lot of information that is relatively easy to access in terms of how your business is going, and what needs to be done. But for some, the Infomation is presented too much like ‘accountants speak’ – too dry, and not clear enough for a quick understanding.
So, what if I could give you a system that looks at your data in Xero, and gives you simple summaries of information – like ‘how much do I need to pay next week? What is due to me from invoices outstanding? What is overdue? What is my profit for the month? How much ‘paperwork do I need to catch up on?
Packaged into easy, quick answers that look like tweets rather than another chapter of War and Peace?
Something that looks like this? And sent to you on your phone or tablet for easy access?
Or a web based dashboard that shows something like this:
As well as a rundown of items to be looked at. And an “Alexa/Siri” style ‘ask me’ facility to look over various items in the reports. Or to find out more information. And a portal to “ask me anything” as well.
Would this be useful to you? Would it help to focus on particular areas that we need to discuss – and take action on?
It is a web and app-based system called Aider, which I have been looking at as a ‘Dashboard’ system to help me look over client data. Many features have already been added, and more will come as they continue to develop the system. (Which I am involved in the review of currently)
This system can also capture information from other sources – like your social media marketing, point of sale systems, banking, and calendar systems- to be a quick ‘one stop’ for your information. It can connect up to 16 apps, lots of social media analytics and provide easy to digest information for you 24/7.
The idea, of course, is to focus on the key parameters. If you like, the ‘oxygen pipe’ allows your business to breathe and not leak cash, clients, activity, etc.
1. What have I invoiced for the last week/month?
2. What bills do I need to pay in the next week/month? What are my tax liabilities? DO I need to pay any super?
3. What jobs need completing? What projects need to be started/completed/invoiced?
4. Am I on track? Are my sales/expenses/cash at the bank at the level I expected for the year?
5. Is my system helping me or hindering me from keeping my finger on the pulse? What can I do about it to improve?
I believe that this system can help us get to these key elements quickly and easily – as well as helping us here to keep an eye on your accounts to see if we can help you with anything in your files.
I will be rolling this out with a number of our clients and look forward to discussing the details further with you as part of our work with you. Give me a call, and let’s see how this system can help you keep your oxygen pipe stay secure, unblocked and flowing free!
As for my fish – They are housed in a new tank (as further checks and tests found more than one problem that I had to deal with!) and living happily again.
For more information on Aider, go to www.aider.ai, or call me to discuss.
And a great Youtube site on keeping fish that I can highly recommend is “Lazarus the Fish Boy”