What is the Critical Number Driving Your Business? - Peter Boolkah

In business, the most successful leaders plan. No matter your industry or company size, as a business owner, it’s essential to set small and large-scale goals and align them with what’s known as ‘The Critical Number’.

Whether you’ve only recently discovered the term or are currently re-evaluating your critical number, identifying these numbers is critical for any type of business to thrive. Ultimately, your critical number is a crucial component of your decision-making dashboard. This dashboard predicts your company’s direction from 6 months to a year down the line.

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What Are Critical Numbers

Verne Harnish, the author of “Scaling Up,” defines a critical number as “a metric that, if improved, will have the biggest impact on moving your company forward.”

Critical numbers differ for every business, ranging from gross margin to customer acquisition costs. Identifying and improving your company’s critical numbers is essential for scaling up successfully.

If you’re unsure what your company’s critical numbers are, start by asking yourself what metrics would significantly impact your business if they were improved. Once you’ve identified a few potential candidates, run some tests and see which ones have the most significant impact on your business.

Improving your company’s critical numbers is vital to scaling up successfully. By identifying and improving the metrics that matter most to your business, you can take your company to the next level.

How to Find Critical Numbers

As a business grows, Verne Harnish says, it will inevitably face several critical moments or “turning points.” These are times when the company is forced to make significant decisions that will profoundly impact its future.

To find your company’s critical numbers, Harnish recommends starting with a simple question: “What keeps you up at night?” Once you’ve identified the key issues that worry you, you can start looking for patterns and trends.

Once you’ve identified your company’s critical numbers, monitoring them closely is important. That way, you’ll be able to spot problems early and take corrective action before it’s too late.

Critical Number Calculator

As Verne Harnish famously said, “Growth is never by chance; it is the result of forces working together.” If you’re looking to scale up your business, it’s essential to identify and track your company’s critical numbers.

Your company’s critical numbers are those metrics that significantly impact your business’s success or failure. Tracking these numbers can help you make informed decisions about allocating resources and how to best grow your company.

There are a few different ways to calculate critical numbers. One popular method is the 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle. This principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. In other words, you should focus your energy on the 20% of activities that will generate the most results.

Identifying your company’s critical numbers is a crucial first step in growing your business. Once you know what to track, you can start making decisions to help you achieve your desired growth.

Putting The Critical Number into Practice

Each business quarter should focus on 1-2 critical numbers. Whether it’s a sales percentage or a performance measure, analyse then choose accurate figures that will:

1. Encourage each department to work together towards one common goal.

2. Benefit the health of your entire organisation as a result.

Although most SMEs have a critical number, typically, the sales pipeline takes precedence. And while a solid sales strategy is fundamental to your business, you must be able to identify where this leaves the rest of your employees. Operations, logistics, customer service… each department plays an active part in defining the critical number.

Trust the Right Execution and Improve Your Sales

It might be that you’ve recruited the best sales team to make sure your daily targets are met. But here’s the dilemma: these sales are not manifested as actual profit. That’s why execution is equally (if not more) crucial to get right. Once you perfect the execution, your business will increase physical pounds.

A great example of this was with one of my clients. They have an engineering-based company and approximately 40 mobile engineers. The sales team kept winning work, but the sales were not increasing in proportion to the work done. The instinct would be getting more sales in, but that was not the issue. 30% of these site visits were aborted, impacting the sales figures at the end of the quarter – and subsequent quarters.

Had we kept chasing sales, we would have had to hire more engineers. Granted, sales would have risen, but 30% of visits would have been aborted, so we would have turned over more whilst injuring higher costs. So, in this case, the critical number we addressed was 30% of aborted visits. We had the aborted visits as a critical number for 3 quarters and took active steps to reduce this percentage over time.

In the end, we got this down to below 4%, which allowed us to increase sales by over 25% and profitability. All departments had a role to play as we had bottlenecks across the entire organisation, and this whole process brought the team closer together.

How to Fix Your Critical Number

Before you can implement a critical number, it helps to figure out which areas your company has the biggest bottleneck or constraint. Team meetings work well for brainstorming. You can then communicate a common goal with each separate department. If it’s your sales team, perhaps focus on suggestions for how to improve sales bookings. Or, if it’s your warehouse team, ensure all the necessary tools and parts are on-site ready to use for the next client visit. Adopting a highly organised approach will ensure employees act more efficiently when completing each allocated task.

Whether you prefer to focus on one or more critical numbers before moving on to the next, once you highlight a solid goal your entire workforce can identify, your business will pose a much higher success rate.

Connect with Peter Boolkah – The Transition Guy

If you need personalised coaching on identifying and implementing your critical number; and, most importantly, how to bring this to life within your organisation, get in touch.


What does a critical number tell you?

A critical number is a crucial metric that can help you assess the health of your business. It’s essential to track critical numbers so you can identify issues early and take corrective action.

Verne Harnish, the author of Scaling Up, recommends using the following formula to calculate your company’s critical number:

Critical Number = (Current Revenue / Desired Revenue) x 100

For example, if your company’s current revenue is $10 million and you want to scale up to $100 million, your critical number would be 10. You need to grow your revenue by 10x to reach your desired scale.

Tracking critical numbers is essential for any business that wants to scale up successfully. By monitoring your progress against your necessary number, you can ensure you’re on track to reach your scaling goals.

What makes a number a critical number?

A few key things make a number critical in the eyes of Verne Harnish. First, it must be a number essential to your business’s success. Second, it must be a number that you’re constantly measuring and monitoring. Third, it must be a number you’re willing to change or improve upon.

For example, revenue is one of the most critical numbers in any business. Revenue is essential to the success of a business because it represents the money coming in. Without revenue, a business would quickly go bankrupt. That’s why enterprises track their revenue very closely and always look for ways to increase it.

Another critical number is profitability. Profitability is essential because it represents how much money a business is making. A business needs to be profitable to stay afloat and grow. That’s why enterprises track their profitability closely and always look for ways to improve it.

There are many other critical numbers in business, but these two are some of the most important. If you can focus on improving your revenue and profitability, you’ll be well on scaling up your business.

How do you find the critical number in an equation?

Critical Number = (Current Revenue / Desired Revenue) x 100

For example, if your company’s current revenue is $10 million and you want to scale up to $100 million, your critical number would be 10. You need to grow your revenue by 10x to reach your desired scale.

How do you solve critical points?

If you’re running a business, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually face some sort of critical point. Whether finding the proper funding to scale up, hiring key personnel, or simply hitting a growth plateau, these challenges can seem impossible.

But with the right approach, any critical point can be overcome. Let’s Iook at how to identify and solve essential issues of your business.

First, let’s define what we mean by a critical point. A crucial point is any situation that threatens the viability of your business. It might be a financial crisis, a legal issue, or anything else that could jeopardise your company’s future.

Critical points can often be identified by looking for Warning Signs. These are early indicators that something is wrong, and a crisis might be brewing. Some common warning signs include:

– A sudden drop in sales or revenues

– An increase in expenses

– A decline in customer satisfaction

– Employee turnover

If you see any warning signs, you must take action immediately. The sooner you address the problem, the easier it will be to solve.

There are four steps you can take to solve any critical point:

1. Define the problem. What is causing the crisis? Once you know the root cause, you can develop a plan to fix it.

2. Assemble a team. Surround yourself with people who can help you solve the problem. This might include hiring new staff, seeking expert advice, or reaching out to your network.

3. Develop a plan. Figure out what needs to be done to fix the problem. This might involve changing your business model, implementing new processes, or raising capital.

4. Take action. Put your plan into action and make the necessary changes.

With these steps in mind, let’s look at some specific critical points and how to solve them.

1. Financial crisis: If you’re facing a financial crisis, the first step is to assess the situation and figure out where the problem lies. Are you overspending? Are your revenues down? Once you know the root cause, you can develop a plan to fix it. This might involve cutting costs, increasing revenues, or both.

2. Hiring key personnel: If you’re looking to hire key personnel, the first step is to identify the skills and experience you need. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can reach out to your network or use job search engines to find candidates. Once you’ve found a few qualified candidates, you must interview them carefully to ensure they’re a good fit for your company.

3. Growth plateau: If your business has hit a growth plateau, it’s essential to assess the situation and figure out where the problem lies. Are there areas of your business that are underperforming? Are your costs too high? Once you know the root cause, you can develop a plan to fix it. This might involve changing your business model, implementing new processes, or raising capital.

No matter what critical point you’re facing, remember that it can be overcome with the right approach. Define the problem, assemble a team, develop a plan, and take action. With these steps, you’ll be able to solve any challenge and keep your business on track for success.

“Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.”

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