You’d be forgiven for thinking marketing is a numbers game if you have worked as a marketer any time in the past 10 years. The advent of the spreadsheet has severely messed up what people think business is about. It’s an attempt to add science to what is essentially an art form, sure all arts have an element of science, but numbers are a much smaller part of what matters than what people think.
Financiers, economists and marketers feel like the poor cousins of actual scientists. They feel this way because what they do is seen as softer and assumption based. So the natural ego response is to add science to what they do. They add this science (in the form of spreadsheets) to cover their asses, justify their decisions and sometimes even justify their existence. In fact, it’s this assumption based number crunching and spreadsheet marketing which lead us the the GFC.
For startups there are only two numbers that matter. Money in and money out. Any other spreadsheet generated number is there to make you feel good about yourself and or help you avoid doing the actual hard stuff which might bring in more money, like building something, or selling the stuff you’ve already built.
If you want to be a good entrepreneur choose understanding human behavior over number crunching as your core competency. Human behavior is what it is all about. When we understand this can we do stuff that creates profitable numbers.
I’ve recently been reading SuperFreakonomics. It is full of tasty unexpected insights which teaches us more about human behavior, just like the first book. Every marketer and entrepreneur should read this. Not only is it incredibly entertaining, it takes us further down the track of being the behaviorist we must be. Read it.