“Oh, numbers scare me.”
That’s the usual response I get from people when they first meet me and find out what I do.
I smile because I’ve heard it a thousand times.
“But numbers are your friend”, I say, “they tell a story. The story of your business and your life.” Numbers reveal what we aren’t prepared to admit. Numbers tell the story of success and failure. Numbers tell true stories, because numbers (when accurate) don’t lie.
Why are people so afraid of “numbers”? Because we fear what we don’t understand.
Here are three factors that contribute to the fear of numbers and how to correct them so you can run your business instead of it running you.
Most business owners I work with fear numbers too, only they won’t admit it. Usually because they are too prideful to admit that they don’t understand them. They’re confused and don’t want to seem ignorant or ill-equipped to run their business.
Let me clue you in on a secret, you don’t know it all. You have a certain set of skills that help you run your business, and maybe numbers are not one of those skills. That’s ok. You’re not alone, and that’s what I’m here for. I help business owners understand their numbers, but I can’t help you (no one can) if you don’t admit what you don’t know.
You wouldn’t drive your car with your eyes closed? No! So why try to run and grow a successful business without understanding your numbers? Get over your fear, open your eyes and get ready to see your business in a new way.
[Tweet “Not understanding your financial dashboard is like driving with your eyes closed.”]
Admit what you don’t know and you’ll be well on your way to gaining control over your fear.
Maybe your fear of numbers isn’t based on ignorance or avoidance, but on accuracy. Perhaps you’ve had several accountants or high turnover in your financial team and you just don’t trust your numbers anymore. The numbers do have to be accurate in order to tell an accurate story. The facts in any case determine the outcome.
You can look at your financial dashboard all day long, but if it isn’t representative of reality, you might as well be looking at hieroglyphics. They are equally useful.
In order to have accurate numbers, you may need to bring in some outside help, conduct an audit, and overhaul your processes to ensure ongoing accurate transaction reporting. You can audit and make corrections, but if you don’t change your behaviors your numbers will be inaccurate again.
Accuracy and confidence in your numbers can dissuade your fear of them.
Failure. That one word keeps business owners up at night and it’s another reason they fear the numbers. What if the numbers tell a story of doom? What if I admit what I don’t know, make sure my numbers are accurate, and I get the bad news that my business is failing?
That’s exactly why you need the truth. Do you really want to keep putting all of your time and energy into a business that is failing? By knowing and facing the truth you actually gain control of your business. It’s at that moment of truth that we get to make decisions that alter our lives and our businesses.
The numbers can tell you where you are at and where you are headed, but only you can make the decision of where to go from there. The truth can be the catalyst for change.
Embrace the truth of your numbers so you can take charge of your future. Trust me, you’ll sleep better at night knowing the truth.
Running your own business is not for the faint of heart. It takes fortitude, perseverance, and vision. There are a multitude of fears and struggles that you face daily as a business owner, don’t let fear of numbers be one of them. Get over yourself, get your numbers accurate, and face the truth. Your fear of numbers will evaporate and you’ll be in the driver’s seat of your business again with eyes wide open.
What do you think?
What other factors contribute to your fear of numbers?
What will you do today to get over your fear of numbers?
Tenaya (T.J.) Tison is a business leader and entrepreneur who is passionate about propelling others in their work & faith potential, by strategically directing them in business + work; and in full-faith living. Find out what T.J. does here. Follow T.J. on Twitter. Invite TJ to speak.