Would you rather walk on broken glass than “do the books” for your business? When it’s time to review the budget do you reach for your dentist’s phone number? (Surely that would be less painful….) Does swimming with sharks sound less scary than pricing a new product?
Fear not! You can tame the numbers beast in four easy steps.
Taming Finance Fears Step 1: Identify White Hat Numbers
People used to think all cholesterol was bad and must be avoided. Now we know there are two types of cholesterol, one of which actually promotes a healthy heart. They’re the white hats, battling to make my arteries safe.
Numbers are like cholesterol.
There are good numbers, the white hats of finance. Identifying your white hat numbers is the first step to overcoming your aversion to finance.
Think of a time you’re happy to see numbers. When your bank balance grows, when a client writes you a big check, or when your sales numbers are ahead of plan.
On a sheet of paper in large print write down one or more of those numbers and why they make you happy. Hang that sheet of paper up near your desk. Every day when you look at it think, “Now those are numbers I like to see.”
Taming Finance Fears Step 2: The Stephen King Movie Effect
Stephen King is the undisputed master of modern day horror novels. He’s written more than 50 books, ALL of them worldwide bestsellers. Yet unlike other successful authors such as J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins, King’s movies fail to catch fire and reach blockbuster status. Why?
Stephen King’s genius lies in his ability to prey on our fear of the unknown. He knows how to bring primitive, powerful fears to the surface. He lets the reader’s imagination fill in the details. But a movie is visual, requiring the director to fill in those details. Suddenly the story isn’t so scary – because we can see our fear.
Give a face to your fear. Create a character to personify your fears. Draw it yourself or find an image which appeals to you. Implement the Stephen King movie effect. (Feel free to throw darts at it as well… very therapeutic).
Taming Finance Fears Step 3: Identify Your Fear (Hint: It’s not arithmophobia)
If you’re a Peanuts fan you’ll be familiar with the scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Lucy tries to diagnose Charlie Brown’s fear. She reels off a truly random list of phobias, including thalassophobia (fear of the ocean) and ailurophasia (fear of cats).
Arithmophobia (the fear of numbers), doesn’t make her list, and most likely isn’t your real fear either. Often entrepreneurs avoid the numbers because they’re afraid of what they will learn. Reviewing your finances can highlight the real problem you fear you have, such as products that aren’t priced correctly or business model that simply can’t meet your profit goals.
The problem won’t go away because you ignore it. Acknowledge your real concern and face it head on. Think you’re pricing is too low? Find out today. If it is, create a plan to address it, such as offering a choice to pay more for the same services or cut back on the client deliverables to keep the price down.
Ignoring your financial issues is like ignoring a puppy. You’ll end up with a big, stinky mess.
Taming Finance Fears Step 4: Get Schooled
Knowledge is power. Often people fear finance because they don’t understand it. Don’t go overboard, but a strong foundation will help you grow your business and your profit.
Resources abound, from community college courses to your local SCORE office, there is sure to be one or more than fit your schedule and budget. Find out if your community has a small business incubator. Consider investing in a few good books on the topic.
You don’t need to go it alone. Online communities abound, Facebook Groups might have just what you need, or consider searching Twitter for connections and possible chats. Ask a respected colleague if they’d be a mentor, or team up with a peer to learn together.
Care to share a description of your finance villain look like? What hidden business fear have you discovered? Perhaps you’d like to offer a resource that helped you grow your finance knowledge.
Part of smart small business finance is measuring your marketing, so you know what’s working and what isn’t. Read more in our section on marketing analysis.