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The unhealthy financial behaviors that damage your business

We all relate differently to money. How we manage (or don’t manage) money is usually conditioned by deep-seated beliefs we've learned throughout our life, from what you heard growing up to your personal finance as an adult. Whether or not you’re aware of it, your relationship with money is fueled by these beliefs, influencing how you deal with finance in your business. And unfortunately, it’s not always a healthy relationship.

The majority of our clients come into business coaching with personal obstacles around finance that stem from sometimes unconscious convictions. Things like:

I didn’t get into business to deal with finances. 

I don’t need to handle the financials of my business. That’s what my accountant is for. 

If I need something for my team, I just buy it. If it’s helping my business, what’s the big deal?

I don’t believe in taking on debt in my business. I’m too upstanding a person for that. 

These beliefs create negative behaviors that can seriously impact your progress toward your business goals. Here are the most common behaviors we see, and what you can do about them:

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Avoidance

I didn’t get into business to deal with finances.

You can probably empathize with this statement. It’s a viewpoint that we hear often from clients who struggle with the finance side of their business—and, more often than not, it reflects a pattern of avoiding vital financial information. Whatever your business may be (unless of course it’s in the finance industry), you likely didn’t come into it with financial knowhow. And when you don’t know what you don’t know, the common default is to ignore it completely.

As the owner and leader of your business, you can’t avoid the money or numbers—at least, not if you want your business to last. Eventually, the money is going to make you pay attention, when things get so dire that you have no choice but to take a closer look. Perhaps more than in any other area, your Finance System is where you want to be proactive rather than reactive. 

So if you don’t know how to start taking control of your finances or find the essential financial partners every business owner needs, now’s the time to find out.

Abdication

I don’t need to handle the financials of my business. That’s what my accountant is for. 

Hand in hand with avoidance is abdicating your finances to an expert—even if that person is just another member of your team who knows how to manage money a little better than you do. When a client comes to EMyth Coaching with financial concerns, we take the opportunity to ask them, “Are you abdicating or delegating your finances?” In other words: Do you defer to your accountant, then wait for them to give you financial results that’ll help you better lead and manage your business? Or do you already know the results they’ll give because you know how to read the financials yourself?"

Many business owners abdicate—and while this is more proactive than avoiding the money all together, it still puts them in a risky position. Why? Because until you really understand the numbers in your key financial statements, you’re not in control. You don’t know how you got to where you are, and you can’t spot anomalies or make intentional business decisions to take your company where you want it to go. 

We urge every client to take charge of their finances: to understand (at a bare minimum) what they’re looking at on their Balance Sheet, and to know their Key Financial Indicators and cash position. Our free guide to strengthening your finance system can help.

Haphazard spending

If I need something for my team, I just buy it. It’s helping my business, so what’s the big deal?

An EMyth Client named Tim recently came to his coach with a challenge he was facing. “People are coming to me all the time with broken tools, like I’m just going to replace them without question.” After some conversation, Tim admitted, “Since I started my business, if I’ve ever needed a tool, I just go get it. We need tools, so it’s a necessary expense.” He’s not all wrong in this belief: Tim’s team does need tools to do their work. But his unstructured and reactive approach to spending sent the message to his people that resources—in this case, tools—were easily expendable. 

With the help of his coach, Tim looked at how much money was actually going to tools—and the number surprised and worried him. He realized that his own spending behavior was sending the wrong message to his team about the value of their materials. His behavior was influencing their behavior. Tim needed to face the consequences of his own approach and actively change himself. So he started tracking spend, and regularly shared with his team how much goes to tools and how else he could be using that money. By connecting those dots in a powerful way, he started to see more care taken.

Risk aversion

I don’t believe in taking on debt in my business. I’m too upstanding a person for that. 

Among these unhealthy behaviors, risk aversion is the most subtle and undetectable. Chances are, if you’re avoiding, abdicating or spending erratically, deep down you know it. But being risk averse is so attached to your value systems, so protective in scope, that it can often feel like a healthy behavior. After all, isn’t it safeguarding your business?

Yes and no. On the one hand, debt can increase your company’s vulnerability to downturns that may reduce revenues or excessively leverage your company in a dangerous way. On the other, borrowed money can provide the support your business needs to grow bigger and faster—and give you a higher return on your investment. So while it’s wise to be cautious about taking on debt, strategic risk is necessary to grow. If you have high confidence that the risk could lead to the sustained success of your company, speak with your accountant about it. Asking for help with things you don’t fully understand yet is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Do any of these four financial behaviors ring true for you? Identifying your beliefs and behaviors is the first step to getting control of your finances. If you want to truly manage your financial system and make more informed decisions, check out our free Finance System guide, or reach out to speak with a coach.

 

Kirstin Fulton

Written by Kirstin Fulton

Kirstin Fulton is a Content Creator for EMyth, where she partners with every department to develop content that inspires and educates business owners on their entrepreneurial journey. Her experience lies in writing and producing digital and print media for various industries, developing corporate events, and building immersive curriculum for both academic and business environments. She’s passionate about serving the EMyth community—our clients, Coaches, and colleagues—through writing that brings clarity, guidance and enthusiasm to the everyday.

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