Just a really important note, something you may have suspected as you followed along these past couple of weeks: We are leading up into the end of the second trimester, which will be marked by a second presentation, Retrospective 2, that will not just cover Marketing, Sales and Operations, but will also cover Finance.
My anathema. And it should not be so.
Why in the world would a person – an entrepreneur – someone who has plotted life and limb so that business ideas would blossom into profitable enterprises, think “Finance” would be anathema? Why would numbers be a barrier or a fear? Data clarifies, doesn’t it? “Numbers tell the story”, don’t they? How can we count profits and loss, if we don’t keep receipts and at least have technology plot points for us over time (also measured in numbers)? We’re counting dollar bills, after all, aren’t we?
Well, some of us are Creatives. Storytellers. Dreamers who sometimes run on conventional wisdom and assumptions rather than the realities that numbers can expose. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Creative. Or a Dreamer. I am both of those things and an eccentric on top of it.
The problem, however, a problem that this Bootcamp is engineered to train us out of, would be if we did not grow out of this phase - and did not learn to combine the Dream with the Data. With the Numbers. With Finance.
We can say that we all see the worth behind crunching the numbers, and it is extremely enlightening to plot each expense against our devised prices and learn that we have work to do!
That’s not the problem. And, truthfully, the problem may differ for each entrepreneur in the Bootcamp. I see two main issues, though, and I’ll leave my observations here. You are welcome to add to them:
Issue One – A Fear of Numbers: We’ve been taught this in America, especially women over a certain age. My own mother railed against this when I was in elementary school (close to 45 years ago, one day when I didn’t do great on a math test.) I remember her words, telling me that I used to “love” math and numbers until some idiot (her words, not mine) told me girls couldn’t be good at math. She blamed me for believing them. I didn’t, actually. I just never had a love for numbers like I did for words. But still, that narrative is there. And it is something to overcome for many of us. Luckily technology and automatic computations and Excel formulae help, except for those now who believe themselves “left behind” by that very same technology. There is always a beast to kill.
Issue Two – A Fear of the Truth: That Your Business is not Viable...And Never May Be. The dream just died under this scenario. Not really, though. But some serious re-calibration will be necessary. If the numbers reveal that you are practically giving your product away for free, that what you have on your hands is an “expensive hobby” as is often said in our bootcamp, then there will be some necessary soul-searching that must be done. What will we want to do? Will we need to source less expensive materials, supplies or ingredients? Will we need to increase prices (and will the market sustain those prices?) Will we even like what we will be required to do to make this venture “viable”? If not, well, it is not the end
of the world. Your bank account or fiancee or mother/investor might think so for a time, but what
should have been learned by now is a little resilience and self-forgiveness, even over the course of seven
or eight short weeks. In business, nothing is guaranteed. Take a breath, pay people back, and start again.
Well, as I write, doesn’t it appear that, maybe, numbers and finance are not as much anathema now to
me as I said at the beginning?
Maybe they aren’t now, thanks to the Bootcamp. Maybe thanks also to age and the wisdom of seeing
that Dreams can only be vetted (and possibly realized) by the reality that numbers can bring.
What a weird feeling: The potential for real success.
This story is provided by AARP Colorado. Visit the AARP Colorado page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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