I hate math, but I love data. Spreadsheets are SO cool.
This year, I am tracking all of our sales in each category (market, farm share, and wholesale) by item, date, and price. This means at the end of the year I will be able to analyze all of this data in a myriad of ways—I'll be able to see exactly which crops preformed best from both a profitability and popularity stand point. I'll be able to see which outlets/markets performed best at which time of the season. I'll know where to increase efforts and what just wasn't worth it. I'll be able to zoom in and out to see both macro level information—like how profitable wholesale is compared to direct retail—and micro information—like how many heads of lettuce we sold in April.
Last year I collected some of this information. I had all of the data from the farm share members and the wholesale. But, it wasn't very well organized. Plus, I was not effective at collecting data from our farm stands. I initially tried to write it all down on pieces of paper with the hope of translating it in the winter....that did not happen. So, this year I was determined to go mobile and input the information online in real time—I bought a tablet :). It feels like a luxury, perhaps even an indulgence. But, I really do believe in the data. For me, having access to these numbers gives me confidence to make better decisions and take more calculated risks. I really want this business to work—I mean, I REALLY want this business to work. So, the more tools I have the better, and data really is an excellent tool.
Plus, it's just so cool!