Adapted from Gary Keller’s recent book, “The ONE Thing”, what is the ONE number you could focus on, such that by improving it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?

What we want to identify here is the one number in your business that will have a roll on effect to other aspects of your business making them easier or unnecessary.

And to test your One Number, it needs to be a lead into other numbers. So what I mean by this for instance is that Revenue is made up of many inputs: existing clients, retention rate, leads, conversion rate, average spend, number of transactions per client etc. And you could even break these numbers down into more leading numbers.

Your One Number is likely to change every so often too, so don’t get caught up on it.  At the same time, if you’ve picked a number that is having a fantastic effect on the business don’t just stop monitoring it.

Continental Airlines – the Short Version

Continental Airlines was a struggling airline in the early 2000’s when low cost airlines were popping up.

To innovate, they switched their One Number from “$ per air mile” to “% of on time arrivals” – and because the budget airlines weren’t focused on this, Continental’s business went through the roof!

But once the business was sold and new management came on board, they switched their One Number back – and that is why they are no longer around…

So the lesson here is to make sure you don’t stop measuring a good thing!

Get the Whole Team Involved

Your ONE Numbers will be even more effective if it is something that everyone in your business can contribute to. Let’s take ‘# days between last incident’ for accidents in the work place. Everyone can be on board this, and it would reduce administration time, costs for leave, insurances etc – but everyone can assist.

Examples For Your One Number:

Customer Focused

  • Average days turnaround time for projects
  • % of on time arrivals (for airlines – see Continental Airlines)
  • Completion rate of your program / course
  • # days or hours from order to delivery

If you’re short on leads

  1. # of calls each day
  2. # of meetings with clients week
  3. # of speaking engagements each month

If your cash flow is tight

  • Reducing # days between debtor follow ups
  • % of suppliers that are on credit terms
  • % of customers who pay up front
  • # of stock turns each month

Keep Accountable Once You’ve Got Your One Number to Focus on In Your Business

After you’ve decided on your One Number, be sure you document it and keep score of it visually – somewhere that you and the team responsible will see it every single day.

If you don’t do this, you’re much more likely to let the goal fizzle out.

For instance, you could simply write it on butchers paper and stick it to the back of your office door.  Or, if you’ve got some crafty talent in the office, get them to put together a fun, themed scoreboard – especially if it’s something that can create some competitive fun.