24: The Most Important Number for Small-Agency Owners

Meeting Payroll 24 Times a Year Trumps All Other Goals

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I recently came across a statistic that said that nearly 75% of all small-business owners consider their most important business goal to be "maintaining and increasing sales." It got me thinking about whether or not I would agree with my fellow entrepreneurs. I don't. I likely wouldn't fall into the remaining quarter of respondents either, as I would assume many of them stated goals along the lines of growth, awards, notoriety, innovation, new business, strategy, strong talent, etc. Don't get me wrong -- all of these are productive goals to have if you want to prosper, but they are all byproducts of something much more critical: the number 24.

Twenty-four represents the most important goal that I have. From my first day in business to today, like a steady drum or heartbeat, it keeps me hyper-focused on meeting that goal. Each time it's met, I know that I have achieved the most important responsibility as a business owner, only to have it start up again the next day. It's a constant awareness that I have to stay on track with what I'm doing, in order for that number to be met again. Twenty-four represents a goal that is rooted in commitment and the promise that my company makes to its key assets -- its employees. Twenty-four is simply the number of payroll cycles we meet every year.

From my vantage point, making payroll is the primary goal that a business owner should have because meeting it is the foundation for everything else. Focusing on payroll two times a month, every month, 24 times a year for the past 13 years has driven the success of my agency. The people have changed, as has the venue, but that milestone marker has remained the same. We've made it 325 times to a team that has grown from three to 33. All of the other goals that you may have at the top of your list, such as growth and innovation, are products of your team, and can only be met when you meet their needs.

Staring down the barrel of 24 payrolls on January 1 can be pretty daunting. So don't. I can't -- and you shouldn't either, because as an entrepreneur you have to focus on achievable goals. I simply focus on the next cycle ahead and plan to meet it. Accountants, bookkeepers, financiers, controllers, investors and many others have formulas, theories, strategies and hedges to ascertain the health of a company. I use 24 as the barometer of our health and success. It may sound small, but it's the responsibility that a company has to be the most conscious of -- whether it's a large global agency, a small local startup or anything in between.

I've never wavered from my goal to make payroll. By focusing on my people at the most fundamental level, my business moves forward and continues to grow. By meeting their needs, I help empower their individual dreams. And in turn we collectively empower our business.

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