Updated: Nov 15, 2022
✦ We don’t talk nearly enough about how mental health and business success are so closely intertwined.
And yes, I’m fully aware of how many positive affirmations about self-care there are floating around the internet. What I’m talking about is a much deeper, more specific correlation between our business’ finances, how we feel about them, and the ultimate success of our enterprise.
Time and time again I have business owners come to me in a state of distress; it’s a toxic combination of:
Fear that they have missed something important (or expensive)
Shame that they don’t have a firm grasp of their numbers
Guilt that they have ‘let things get this bad’
And almost all of them think that they are uniquely inept with finances and that everyone else must have figured it out already.
If these feelings resonate with you, then this article has come to you at just the right time.
My mission is to help business owners feel empowered and confident through mastery of their financial data.
To resolve that feeling of fragmentation, let's call it for what it is and dive into this notion of financial anxiety as the first step in helping you find your financial confidence.
Diagnosing Your Financial Anxiety
Whilst obvious, it bears mentioning that I’m not a medical professional, and we’re not talking about diagnosing an actual illness. Rather, the purpose behind focusing on this term of financial anxiety is twofold.
Firstly, it’s my way of establishing a vocabulary for what I’ve seen far too often in my practice as both a Chartered Accountant and a Business Advisor.
And chances are that, if you experience financial anxiety, those two words have already struck a chord with you.
In this mental-health-aware time that we find ourselves in, many of us have at the very least a 101 level understanding of what anxiety is: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
To my mind, it’s the ‘uncertain’ aspect here that is doing the most damage in the business world.
Accounting has become hugely complicated since the tech boom, with increased complexity around taxation, as well as overregulation and compliance, in many instances unnecessarily so.
Back when our ‘books’ were exactly that - books! - we got bills in the mail, wrote and signed cheques to pay them and mailed them when we were ready. All that was often summarised by hand into a ledger book with meaningfully labelled columns. Those “books” were always close at hand so comparisons could be found with just a few flicks of a page.
Now our databases are working 24/7 collating all our data into a myriad of potential reports. Now there are intricate graphs, charts, buttons and automations which might be exciting to accountants. But those left both under and overwhelmed by the whole experience are the very people who stand to gain the most from this information: the business owners themselves.
Too often business owners don't know how to get useful reports or how to read them - they quite literally can’t read their own story. Yet in my experience, when I have provided the support they needed to wrap their heads around the data, they quickly see problems and can start troubleshooting! They become literate, if not fluent, in the story of their business once more. And with that understanding comes the capacity to reflect on the business and find ways to improve its performance.
I'm not suggesting you go back to manual books, but your anxiety will lessen when you recognise that these numbers hold the key to your success (and that you inherently understand them better than anyone else).
Secondly, simply giving this sense of dread a name provides that first glimmer of hope to those experiencing it:
That you are not alone.
What can you do about it?
Cliche number #1: Admitting you have a problem.
Hopefully, by me sharing this terminology with you as well as my experience of it with a number of business owners, you can grant yourself the grace to admit it may be affecting you.
From there, it’s cliche number #2: knowledge is power.
And this is a multifaceted strategy, with multiple areas in which we need to acquire knowledge in order to give ourselves a well rounded sense of confidence and peace.
Here is the knowledge you need to pursue to get started:
Know what it is you really want. Many of us fall into the trap of simply ‘making more’. But you need to know what your ‘enough’ looks like, so you know when it’s time to stop spinning your wheels. What does this business need to help you achieve? What kind of lifestyle do you want? How much does that cost? What is your business’ capacity to make that happen and how much time should it take?
Know where the gaps in your knowledge are. Now you have a clear vision for the end result (even if this changes shape over time). The next step is to seek out the gaps in your knowledge as you begin reverse engineering your plan for success. Do you really understand what your weekly expenditure looks like? Are you getting the most bang for your buck out of your software and systems? Are there any double-ups happening giving you a false read on the situation?
Know what you need to get you there. Once you’ve identified your destination, and you’ve educated yourself on the current state of play, it’s time to optimise and move forward with purpose. Know the people you need to bring into the fold. Know where your expertise stops and others’ starts. Know the systems you need to implement. And most importantly, know that you’re capable of financial mastery in the context of your own business.
Quite often, collaborating with another will make these steps much more achievable. I’ve worked with many business owners across a variety of sectors, so I have a vast pool of knowledge to draw upon in order to help you reduce your unique anxiety. If you’d like to know more, book a FREE 30 minute chat with me: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au
Disclaimer: These are yuck and boring but unfortunately a legal requirement for professionals in my industry. So just a reminder, the information contained here is general in nature and you should seek financial and business advice tailored to your own personal circumstances. Which, by no small coincidence, I can help you out with. Head over to my website and book a free 30 minute chat with me: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au
Book a Chat
Liz Jarvis BEc CA
Better Business Decisions
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd_7znD53DbzVfmLoFPVZWQ
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