What an Archaeology Datum Point Has to do With Your Business

by | Apr 20, 2016 | Strategy

Let’s talk expenses. We all know about those normal business operating expenses: your website hosting, software like Microsoft Office, and online marketing tools like MailChimp. Contractors or employees all add to your business expenses, too – which is a good thing. Or at least it should be. 😉

Today I want to talk about an overlooked element of your business that is also costing you money.


A lack of focus.

Allow me to digress with a story for a moment.

When I was being trained as a visual anthropologist (it’s like a people researcher who is super interested in the visual representation of humans), at one point in my studies I had the honor of participating in an archaeological dig.

One of the things that fascinated me so much about the archaeological process (beyond learning about what humans throw away, how the earth can preserve cultural artifacts, and how cool people are) was the idea of the Datum Point.

A Datum Point is a point that archaeologists choose on a site that they will then use to measure or plot all other points off of. Without getting too technical (did I lose you at “Datum Point”?), archaeologists need to have a starting point or a reference by which to measure, monitor, and make decisions by.

That was the Datum Point. We could measure the height, depth, and provenience (another fancy-schmancy anthropological term) of an object by looking back at our Datum Point.

The interesting thing about the Datum Point is that it had to be something that wasn’t moveable. For example, if we chose a tree as our Datum Point and 50 years in the future some other archaeologists came along and tried to find out what we were doing, but by this point the tree had been chopped down… well, you see where I’m going.

So the Datum Point had to be something fixed.

Here’s how this applies to your business strategy (bringin’ it back around)…

When you have a Datum Point, or a Guiding Intention, as I like to call it, for your business, it gives you a fixed point to both measure your success and focus your efforts.

With a Guiding Intention, you can get super focused on your strategy and strengths, which allows you to stop wasting time on the latest “secret formula” and start making the income you really want to make!

You must be able to look at your Guiding Intention and measure all other things in your business by it.

It allows you to have a reference point for the ultimate focusing question:


Is this necessary or is this a distraction?

This question comes in handy both for deciding whether to buy a new product, program, or service, and for deciding what to offer in your business.

For example, recently two of my favorite people that I follow online joined forces and created what I think is a super-awesome toolkit for web and graphic designers. When the sales email landed in my inbox (and included a substantial discount, I might add), I was hooked! I clicked on the “Buy Now” button in the email right away after quickly asking myself, “Would this help me meet my business goals?” The answer was a huge yes!

But when I asked myself if this product was necessary or just a distraction from my Guiding Intention, I had to stop in my tracks. The truth was, I’d already created all the items in their toolkit for myself. I had those systems set up already and didn’t need what they were selling — I was just distracted by how awesome the product was.

As you might have guessed, I didn’t buy it.


Datum Point