Writing journal

Dear Diary, (Photo credit: avrdreamer)

Us business owners are all about keeping records. We keep a close eye on every dollar going in and out of our business, carefully collect lists of clients, customer, and networking connections and often pay thousands of dollars a year for help with managing our sales and inventory. But even with all the data, most of us are making a simple mistake that is leaving us at a disadvantage.

Numbers are one thing. But you’re doomed to repeat mistakes and let your business fall into the same destructive patterns again and again if you don’t take the time to remember the past. There’s a number of very good reasons why you need to start keeping a business diary.

When most of us hear the word diary we picture something glittery that a teenage girl would write in with a feathered pink pen. But, call it a journal, heck, call it a Captain’s Log, if it makes you feel better about it, there’s tremendous value in keeping a regular record of what’s going on. That goes from the minutiae of running a business to, yes, recording your feelings about how things are going. It doesn’t have to be daily, even forcing yourself to make a monthly note is better than nothing, but you’ll start to understand the value of it almost immediately.

Keeping a journal about your business, even if you never show it to anyone but yourself, gives you the missing piece of the big picture. No one’s memory is perfect and having a record of your emotional state to match up with the numbers you’re already tracking, can show you patterns and connections you would never seen if only looking at one or the other. Even entries as short as a few words can be helpful as long as you make it a semi-regular habit. You may never go back and read every single entry but you’ll appreciate having it there to refer back when needed.

A business diary doesn’t need to be anything fancy, I like to use a private document in Google Drive so it’s always with me when I want to jot something down and searchable for when I’m looking for something specific but a paper notebook is fine too, and doesn’t need to fit any set form. Today you may use it to rant about how annoyed you are at Supplier X while tomorrow it may be just a play by play of what a typical day is like. You may have an entry that just reads, “I hate everyone” or just “Today was a good day.” Many of my entries are literally just a couple of notes, not even complete sentences. What may seem like random scribbles at first will quickly resolve themselves into patterns as you make it a habit and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll start learning about your business… from yourself.

But you don’t have to believe me. Give it a try for at least a month and you’ll start to see the benefits yourself almost immediately.

Have you ever kept a diary or journal for reasons personal or business?