Numbers scare me!
I can’t help it. I see a spreadsheet and I start to feel queasy. Over the last 10 years, when I was responsible for managing large fundraising and communications budgets, I learned to quell my nerves and give the numbers meaning.
I find myself again staring at spreadsheets, ever since deciding to open The Shoe Garden.
First it was about keeping track of all the set-up costs and now it’s all about ensuring I have enough funds to cover my expenses (quite easy) and pay for my stock (more challenging). Ordering stock six to eight months in advance is tricky when you don’t actually know how much you’re going to earn in the interim months, moreso of course when you don’t have any benchmarks from previous years and are still growing your customer database. So it is for any new small business, I imagine.
So I decided to have a meeting with my accountant to shed some light on a few questions about tax, GST and some big picture questions.
I received a lot of great advice and some patient explanations to my long list of questions, many of which started with: “What does such-and-such mean….?” Then I asked a question that really seemed to make him think: “How do I know when I am successful?”
He looked a bit startled at first. I don’t think anyone has ever asked him that before and it brings up so many more questions about what one considers successful.
Clearly everyone has different interpretations about what is successful and while it has to do with numbers (dollars coming in hopefully more than those going out), I am convinced it also has to do with many other things.
From a numbers point of view, I need to sell enough shoes so I can live comfortably, pay all my bills on time (especially for my stock), not have to use my savings and have enough money remaining to eventually invest in my long-term dream of supporting a group of women in Africa to gain their independence and earn a sustainable living.
That will take time. As the accountant pointed out, many businesses are closing down and many others are struggling.
But there are so many other measures to being successful as well, right? And they can’t be found on any spreadsheets.
My well-being has improved remarkably. I don’t have sleepless nights worrying about work anymore or feel stressed about massive workloads. I feel content, relaxed and fit, even having time to run most mornings so my overall fitness and health has improved. That’s a success!
I am truly appreciative and proud when customers comment favourably on the shop or my shoes or the service they receive. That makes me feel like a success too.
I’m also happy. Surely that deserves to be a measure of success too.
So I did get a lot out of my meeting with the accountant. Not only do I now understand more about the difference between a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement and how tax is calculated and on what and when, I also feel reaffirmed that non-numerical factors are also an important part of the success equation.
It really just depends on your definition.
Ciao for now, Carol