Building a healthy work culture is hard. Especially in our current climate.

Businesses around the world are struggling with culture for a variety of reasons:

Hybrid and remote work models create communication challenges.

The Great Resignation has created significant turnover.

Scaling quickly leads to rushed onboarding.

Not to brag, but, despite transitioning to a remote model, and despite the onboarding of multiple employees, we’ve been able to maintain (if not improve) our work culture these past two years, all while growing our business.

Recently, we had an epiphany. The reason our culture has remained strong (despite the many setbacks that come with a global pandemic) is because of the very financial operating system that we use.

Yes, it’s a tool that provides peace of mind for owners and relies on data to inform decision-making. But it’s also a culture builder.

We didn’t intentionally design it that way. It’s a surprising (and very welcome!) byproduct.

We believe that profitable and prosperous plans come together at the intersection of five types of data. In this article, we’ll break down these five types of data and then discuss how they interplay with one another to inform decision-making and planning  — all while strengthening your culture.

1. Hope Here Data

This is where your future goals and your big-picture planning collide. Hope Here data includes your:

  • Mission, Visions & Values
  • BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) or Epic Goal
  • Strategic Plan
  • Business by Design Insights

For many, hope here is the fun part. The dreaming. The vision. But often, these forward-thinking elements of a business plan exist purely in the owner’s mind. Translating your long-term goals into concrete, measurable data is an important task to lead a growing and financially successful company.

Hope Here data should be evaluated every 3-5 years.

  1. Plan Here Data

This data lives right at the center of our Five Types of Data Matrix. Plan Here data includes your:

  • Cascading Metrics
  • Annual Plan (or Budget)
  • Departmental & Individual Scorecard Development

Your Plan Here data is your baseline for mid-range decision making. It’s the how. The implementation strategy. It should be assessed and developed annually.

3. Been There Data

Most business owners, regardless of financial prowess, are used to using some form of Been There data. Rooted in the past, Been There data focuses on your day-to-day operations. Examples include:

  • Financial Statements
  • Key Financial Indicators (KFIs)
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Department & Individual Scorecard Deployment

You’ve likely dabbled in Been There data, but how are you using it to inform your decision making? Been There data, without being put in context, is just a reflection of what you’ve already done. Harnessing it to inform future decisions that impact growth is where our matrix comes into play.

Been There data should be looked at monthly.

4. Expect Here Data

Ah, Hope Here data’s younger sister. Expect Here data looks to the future but focuses on the day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month. It’s the nitty gritty action plan that allows you to know that you’re constantly moving in the right direction. Expect Here data includes:

  • 90-Day Sprints Plans & Progress Measurement
  • Sales Forecasts (your topline)
  • Income Forecasts (your bottom line)

This should be looked at weekly. Yes, weekly.

5. Look Here Data

The final type of data can be tricky. Unlike the other categories, Look Here data is used on an as-needed basis. It consists of preventative and diagnostic tools that can be used to enhance your understanding of the rest of your financial operating system. Look Here data includes:

The Look Here data is exploratory and analytical. It’s the things that make you go “hmmmm”. When things aren’t working (as identified by analyzing the other four types of data) this is where you look. You may use Look Here data in the initial stages of setting up your financial operating system, but otherwise you’re only engaging with this type of data for two reasons:

  1. Understand problems such as high employee turnover or diminishing margins to create a solution
  2. Understand stellar performance such as an unexpected increase in new customers or higher than projected year end profits to replicate results

Interconnected Data = Decision Making Rooted in Facts, Not Intuition

Often business owners aren’t even aware of how much data they have at their fingertips. And if they do know, then they don’t necessarily know how to analyze the data (nor do they have time for a deep analysis).

But here’s the thing: When business owners don’t engage with professionals who can support them with their financial operating system they end up flying blind.

Most business owners can relate to having their bank account on auto-refresh. But there’s a lot of unknown about the future that isn’t addressed in checking your bank account five times a day.

It’s why many business owners can’t sleep at night. The worry, the not knowing — it can be all-consuming.

But when your Been There, Expect Here, Plan Here, and Hope Here data intertwines, you’ll start to see a clear picture of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Your shortcomings are no longer intuitive hunches, but rather clear problems that emerge out of the numbers.

You can then use your Look Here data to identify the right solutions to perpetuate growth.

Gone are the days where the owner makes sweeping declarations and changes plans at the drop of the hat in hopes of grasping onto a million-dollar idea.

With a financial operating system rooted in data, we’re not guessing, we’re knowing.

Running a business doesn’t have to be about operating on intuition and your entrepreneurial sixth sense. There are real tools that you can use every day to inform decision making. It may seem out of reach, but it is attainable. You just have to learn how. The good news? We’re here to help!

When you have a financial coach talking you through the five types of data and how they inform one another, you have access to a financial operating system that creates bigger profits and plenty peace of mind.

You have a plan. And it’s rooted in reality.

Our Financial Operating System Solves A Lot More Than Your Financials

At MACKEY, we walk the walk. The financial operating system that we use to coach and guide our clients is the same financial operating system that we use for ourselves.

We didn’t always use this plan, and we also didn’t always have the healthiest culture. For example, Natalie and Andy can recall a time when our turnover was so high that they lost count of how many assistants we’d had in a single year. (Hint: It was in the teens!)

But as our process grew, and we increasingly relied on data to drive our decisions, something started to shift, too. The conversation became more about using the data to identify shortcomings and less about blaming individuals. The conversation also became less siloed as our employees were granted access to our metrics.

As a result, our team felt empowered to share their ideas, trusted to be part of meaningful discussions, and valued for their contributions.

We recently completed quarterly coaching sessions with our team, and one of our employees said, “I can’t believe this company exists. This company trusts me and wants my opinions. It’s all real.”

The happy employee was a signal of our healthy culture and our commitment to transparency within our organization.

When the five types of data are applied in a systemic way, two things happen:

  • You transform your profits.
  • You transform your community.

It’s why we’re such proponents for data. When you have data to dig into, it’s no longer a blame and shame game. Your employees have buy-in. There’s transparency in your organization.

Meaningful data, when used intentionally, allows company leadership to make decisions with confidence, understanding where the business is falling short and how to course-correct. The guesswork is eliminated.

We’re here to say this: You don’t have to sacrifice culture to maximize profits. You can have both. And the very tools you use to grow your bottom line will also help to strengthen the sense of belonging within your team.

Oh, and it’ll help you sleep at night, too.