It’s not unusual in small businesses for the bookkeeping to pile up and become an old and stale item on the To Do List. With all of the tasks that are competing for your attention within your small business, it’s not surprising that managing bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial paperwork falls by the wayside at times.
Then, as the paperwork piles up, the fear associated with that pile grows too.
One thing I’ve been told countless times by business owners that we’ve helped climb out from under their bookkeeping projects (and piles!) is this:
“You know what? It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be!”
Fear of the unknown, for me, is almost always worse than being informed and equipped with the info I need to make a decision. Well, it turns out that this is usually the case for my clients as well.
When you don’t know what’s going on with your business’s finances, your mind tries to fill in the blanks and most people tell me that those blanks get filled in with some pretty frightening thoughts.
So once you fill the blanks in with the actual answers – it’s usually a surprising relief!
Now you might be wondering, “So how do I fill in the blanks?” Here is a quick and simple method I’ve taught to many of my clients when they first reach out and need to get their heads, hands, and hearts around their financial circumstances.
The first step is a small and imperfect one. It’s a great place to start.
Simply gather up two or three bank statements, a pen, a calculator, and a piece of paper.
Sit in a quiet place and take a deep breath.
Then look at the oldest statement and write down the opening date of the statement and the opening/starting balance. Then write down the closing date and the closing/ending balance.
Then subtract the starting balance from the ending balance.
If the number is positive, you have that much more money in your account than you did at the start of the month. If the number is negative, you have that much less money in your account than you did at the start of the month.
Rather than passing judgment, getting emotional about the numbers, or making some sort of evaluation… just take a moment. Breathe and relax into the numbers.
What you have just discovered is a matter of fact. They are just numbers on a piece of paper. It is information about your business. It’s an imperfect exercise and only a starting point, but it’s more than you knew before and it’s something to accept into your business.
If you feel up to it, repeat the exercise with the additional bank statement(s). Take as much time as you need to just sit with the numbers. Just recognize and accept them for whatever they are and whatever they might be telling you, without trying to figure out what their message might be at this moment.
You might even want to say something aloud like, “Okay, so that’s interesting.” Just feel some curiosity about the numbers and remember to take a deep breath if you’re feeling any sense of overwhelm or constriction.
Don’t yet try to figure out how to change the result or fix the problem you think you might have uncovered or make plans for spending the “extra” money. Just be with the numbers and release the fear of the unknown.
When you’ve finished the exercise, take a moment to reflect upon how it felt to do the exercise.
Now congratulate yourself for taking a big step in a new direction! Sometimes just taking a moment to bring clarity to a situation that has you feeling embarrassment or fear can really make a huge difference.
And if it didn’t alleviate your feelings, that’s fine too. It’s a huge accomplishment to address something that stirs you up inside and I hope you can feel proud about being brave enough to try out this exercise.
By Jessica Reagan Salzman