Out of everyone in my family, Dad is the one people turn to for advice, which he has a knack of offering up at the most opportune moment, when it will resonate the most. When I opened the doors to my very first hair salon back in 1991, at the tender age of just 21 (you do the maths), Dad offered me a little pearl of wisdom that has stuck with me all these years.


t’s something I find myself mulling over at the end of a tough week or if I’m not sure which way to turn. And it’s something I think anyone with an interest in business or who has a little entrepreneurial flair can benefit from. His advice? No matter how stressful things get, always remember that reality prevails.

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’ve dabbled in a few different projects and constantly have your hands in a few different pies. Some of these little ventures will come to nothing, some might even fail spectacularly, but one might just prove to be the lucky charm that will secure you a comfy retirement.

One of the most challenging things about owning a business is all the different hats you have to wear. Sometimes you just need to be a risk-taker. Sometimes you need to be a creative-type. Sometimes you need to be a strategist, and sometimes you need to be a details guy. Sometimes you actually need to be all of the above, and more.

Over time, you find yourself becoming a pseudo-expert in things you thought you’d never even attempt – you become your own publicist, your own fundraiser, your own graphic designer, your own bookkeeper.

For me, getting involved in the numbers game is what scared me the most. I loved dreaming up new ideas and ways of working – but, to my 21-year-old self, spending hours crunching data seemed like the purest form of torture. I would much rather have spent my time talking to people and cutting hair than wrapping my head around my numbers.

Dad, being Dad, was there a with few words of practical advice. While I was trying to balance the books and figure out if I would ever turn a real profit, he sat me down and said to me: “Jo, stop worrying about the numbers. It doesn’t matter what they are – you just need to know them so you can start making informed decisions. The rest will take care of itself.”

This little gem has stuck with me through the years, and it really has gotten me through a few rough times when I might otherwise have been tempted to throw in the towel on my goals and aspirations. In a few words, Dad taught me that it’s fine to concern yourself with something, but worrying is a complete waste of energy.

When it came to knowing my numbers, Dad was so right. I soon discovered that if I kept my eye on a few key KPIs, and made a few little changes to the way I worked according to what those figures were telling me, everything started to fall into place. I found that in business, as in life, reality prevails.

If your clients are spending less each time they visit, you can find ways to upsell. If the industry as a whole is experiencing a bit of a temporary lull, you will know not to stress too much. If your year-on-year revenue has dropped slightly, you’ll be able to put the right strategies in place to bring it back up again.

Measuring my results of this has really helped contribute to my successes over the years, even through some precarious situations when I thought things could really start to go pear shaped. If you take things one little number at a time, you’ll be able to dig deep, rejuvenate your thirst for business, and keep on soldiering on.

Not sure which KPIs you should be tracking? Watch my video: www.shortcuts.com.au/quickfix

Jo Burgess is a co-founder of Shortcuts, the world leader in technology for barbers and salons. She has led the development of innovative software solutions designed to take the stress out of managing a business.