Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Lost and Found

by Maggie Franklin | January 30, 2009

The BF and I go rounds on a regular basis about the way businesses use the term “lost.” He insists that most of the time when a business says they’ve “lost” money, what they really mean is that they didn’t make money. They were counting their chickens before they hatched, so to speak, and “lost revenue” is really just projected revenue that never materialized.




Sure, I get what he’s saying and on a purely semantic level I agree. But let’s face it — when you’re booked solid from dawn till dusk and three people don’t show up for their appointments, you don’t really come home saying, “Well I didn’t make $XXX dollars today.” You stomp through the front door cursing those three people saying, “I lost $XXX dollars today!”


Which is how my Monday went. I was booked solid from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m.! Which is how it ought to be, especially with a new car payment to look forward to. But two of those clients never showed up and one cancelled, albeit a little late in the game. So at the end of the day I’m looking at my receipts going, “I lost $120 today.”


That’s not really true, of course. I know exactly where all the money I made on Monday is. I didn’t lose any of it. I just expected to make $120 more than I actually did!


But that’s the language of business, isn’t it? We project our earnings for any given period of time and after the fact, we tally up our actual earnings and if it’s less than we expected we say we “lost” money. Funny how we never say we “found” money if we come out ahead.



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