Posting on owner-operators over the past two days got me thinking about something that applies to every business – understanding the business based on facts, not perceptions.

Because my role involves walking into companies I don’t know and learning their businesses I get to hear a lot of what people in organizations THINK their business is about….who their target customers are, where they make their money, where there dollars are going, etc, etc. Pretty basic stuff.

And, in one company out of 5 or so, what the organization thinks and what reality is are actually in sync.

Too many companies though, run their businesses based on folklore.

They run their business based on some outdated, half-cooked, never verified perception that is repeated from the top-down without question.

My company is called Boardroom Metrics. I chose the name to reflect the need for managers and directors of companies to get the facts about their business first, then make decisions based on those facts.

When I go into organizations, gathering the facts is one of the key activities that gets organized. It’s easy to show everyone “THIS is where the clues are”.

Sometimes, getting the facts isn’t easy. Market data, particularly in new or underdeveloped markets can be frustrating and misleading. Poor tracking of key customer characteristics, like age, gender or income level can make knowing who the customer is almost impossible.

If the facts don’t exist, then beginning a collection process is key.

When the facts do exist they are always, always enlightening.

So, question. You’re reading this post. You run a Board, an organization, a department. What facts about your business have you taken for granted, but never verified? What facts don’t you know? What facts might change your business?

Go get ’em.