Statistics can be really handy to have when you run a small home based business or work full time from home. For our home catering business, I keep track of simple monthly statistics like :
- Number of customers who join
- Number of customers who stopped
- Total number of customers
- Total expenses
- Total profit
I also keep track of my online income by charting the various figures available to me for example for Adsense :
- Monthly Impressions
- Total earnings
- Earnings per click
I don’t use expensive software – just Microsoft Excel. I’ve got to admit it – I love seeing making colorful charts and looking at them (must be the creative genes in me) – but even keeping simple statistics can reveal a lot about your business.
For example, the stats for my home based catering business reveal an increase in customers stopping every September followed by a another dip in November and December every year. The first two years, it was quite unsettling to see this happen. Then as we continued to track the numbers we saw the same pattern every year. The many public holidays and long school break at the end of the year is probably the time families go for their vacations and don’t need our catering service. We prepare ourselves for this annual 15 to 20 percent dip by setting aside additional savings each month. That way, we can still enjoy our annual family year-end holiday and not have to worry about the slide in revenue, because we know that it’s a seasonal thing.
Then as the new year begins, we see a rise in business which usually peaks in July. Why? Well, we asked a couple of customers who used our service only for these 2 months and confirmed our suspicions – ladies just don’t like going to the market or slaving in a stuffy, humid kitchen during these hot months, so they cater food from us. So we learnt that hot weather causes a nice upward trend in our earnings and customer count chart!
It also makes good sense to keep track of your statistics so you can see how your business is growing (or not). Whether it’s our catering or online income, it’s easy to get discouraged (and panicky) when you look at the daily/weekly fluctuations in earnings. But if you keep your stats long enough, you will have enough data to show you whether you are trending upwards(growing), downwards (shrinking or losing ground) or flatlining (no change). We know that our customer base has grown substantially from when we first started, but it’s really an encouragement every time we see that growth represented in a chart. And like the example I gave you, your stats will show you seasonal trends so that you can prepare yourself and your business.
Running a business from home can be more stressful than your day job. Income and expenses will fluctuate everyday. Some days you win and some days you lose but if you lose sight of the big picture, it can drive you nuts, so I highly recommend that you keep statistics to preserve your sanity.