Small business owners are happier than they ever were as employees, according to a study commissioned by Instantprint (Feb 2016). But, as anyone who runs their own firm knows, happiness can be hard to come by when you’re wondering when exactly you’re going to pay yourself this month; a healthy balance sheet makes for a considerably better night’s sleep.
If you’re lucky enough to run your own enterprise, but still at the stage where the financial management rests on your shoulders, there’s a lot to be gained from assessing your own approach to figures and seeing what can be learned from other business owners.
Typically, there are six identifiable personality types when it comes to how they manage their numbers:
Prepare the pipe and deerstalker, the detective is scrutinous with their finances. They spend a substantial amount of time brewing over every figure, and when the day is done, thoughts of cash flow and capital will be keeping them awake at night.
Some of these business owners may have learnt from past mistakes, hence their unparalleled obsession with detail now. Either way, there’s nothing that goes in or out of the company account that escapes the detective’s watchful eye.
Like John Lennon, Thomas Jefferson and Oscar Wilde, the dreamer has some admirable qualities. Inspirational, creative and possessing the ability to think big, the dreamer is often the imaginative powerhouse behind projects. The question is, then, how well would they manage their accounts?
The dreamer is prone to make financial decisions based on instinct and intuition. They spend as little time as possible watching the figures, leaving them free to craft new directions for the business. However, paying attention to the accounts and possessing relevant financial data could be a major help in crafting the dreamer’s big ideas.
Better still, dreamers benefit from a capable FD, or particularly proactive accountant to complement their skills.
The opportunist lives life on the roll of a dice. If the circumstances present themselves, then these natural entrepreneurs are the first to grab the chance and bet. Financial decisions are spontaneous and the opportunist’s business moves fast and free.
This agility can lead to investing in a growth opportunity at just the right time and stealing a march on the competition, but it’s not always a royal flush. Impulse decisions can lead small companies strapped for cash and vulnerable to unexpected expenses.
A little more management data could be just what opportunists need to make more informed, strategic decisions and gain the winning hand. The challenge is making sure your FD or accountant can deliver the data you need straightaway so it doesn’t slow you down.
Whatever the company, the manager likes to be captain of the ship. Finances are just one piece of a complex puzzle that’s being overseen by the manager. These expert multitaskers have all the right financial information at hand to justify their next business decision.
It’s true that the manager could learn a thing or two from the spur-of-the-moment attitude of the opportunist. A dedicated reliance on financial information can make managers susceptible to missing investing opportunities and growth can tend to be slow and steady.
That said, their philosophy is sound: better safe than sorry.
With a rock-solid foundation to their business and smooth day-to-day operations, the optimist has every reason to be confident that things will work out.
Nevertheless, a habitual reliance on others can sometimes cause problems and this approach can mean a lack of control. The optimist’s financial position could benefit from a little more pragmatism. Whilst there’s much to be said for a sunny forecast, an umbrella can be handy for unscheduled storms.
Ask the scrambler a question about their finances and you’ll be waiting several days for a response. In the meantime, they’ll be wading through paperwork stuffed in every drawer, shelf and desk of their office. The scrambler adopts the ‘forget it until something needs to be done’ mind-set and detests every part of doing their finances.
The scrambler’s accountant regularly has nightmares involving torrents of looming invoices and overdue payments. It’s not that financial information isn’t useful to the scrambler, it’s more that they find the process through which it is obtained painful.
Proper organisation and a simplified process could help, but the reality is most of these people just aren’t suited to great financial management. And that’s ok! Many successful entrepreneurs aren’t. The key is to recognise the issue and get comfortable with delegating to someone you absolutely trust.
The opinions expressed by third parties are their own are not necessarily shared by St. James’s Place Wealth Management. This article originally appeared on the KPMG Small Business Accounting website