You may have noticed my absence for the last few weeks? I had 2 weeks off for a holiday (for the sort of big anniversary you can’t quite believe you’re old enough to have) and came home from America with pneumonia which took me out of action for a few more weeks. But I’m back now and raring to go!
Is there a bit more uncertainty?
I’ve noticed over the last few months a definite air of increased uncertainty. And speaking to accountant-friends they say they’ve noticed the same thing. I don’t know if it’s anything to do with Brexit (I don’t confess to understand enough to know) but even my most stable clients are seeing a shift.
And there’s nothing like uncertainty to trigger fearful thoughts that project doomsday scenarios and get us pretty stressed in the process.
But there’s a real problem with this.
Part of our brain is hard wired to look for danger so it’s always on the lookout for threats. Left unchecked we end up in a permanent state of fear, with our brain perceiving everything as a threat. It then triggers the stress response in our body, producing adrenalin and cortisol, and shutting down all non-essential functions like digestion and healing.
It also shuts down the logical and creative parts of our brain. Which is great for escaping from a tiger but pretty useless at successfully resolving a business problem. Not to mention long term stress is medically and scientifically proven to cause most major diseases and illness.
So we’re in the worst state possible to deal with our challenges.
And financial uncertainty in particular can be crippling – there’s a reality of running out of cash that can’t be underplayed. But the fear of this is destabilising and can stop you doing the very things that will get you back in control.
I can tell you I’ve had to work hard at keeping out of fear these last few weeks; losing a months’ income and feeling completely out of the loop was a great feeding ground for the fear centre in my brain.
Getting out of fear
- Fear can become a default state if we let it – we don’t usually see when it’s running the show, with everything we do coming from a place of fear. So it’s helpful to recognise when our reaction to something is out of fear and not logic. Understanding that the fear is just our brain trying to keep us safe and this is not a life or death situation, is a useful way to get some perspective. Your brain wants to know however that you’ve got the message so acknowledge there is something that needs your attention.
- Write down what’s worrying you. Your brain has a way of making mountains out of molehills and magnifying problems in your mind. When you get things down on paper they never seem as complex or overwhelming – don’t try and fix a problem in your head.
- And by calmly writing down all your tasks, worries, priorities (I find post it notes work really well for this) will get you clear on what really needs your attention – you know, the things that actually make any difference.
- Stop rushing around, trying to multi-task and do too many things at once. Focus on one thing at a time. Rushing and juggling just activates the stress response – and we know what that does!
Getting into certainty
- Focus on the positives and what certainty you do have – your brain loves to run amok finding all the negatives and difficulties. These are rarely a true representation of reality! Keep your focus on these positives and recognise the fear thoughts for what they are.
- There are some very practical things you can do to keep financial fear in check. And they’re things that you should be doing all of the time, not just when things feel difficult. If you make these things financial habits, you’ll drastically reduce the odds of having financial uncertainty in the first place!
- A cash flow forecast that looks ahead at least 13 weeks
- Building buffer cash that will see you through if something goes wrong (my years of obsession with buffer cash paid off having just had over a month off work!) I recommend at least 2-3 months overheads – I like to have up to a year but I’m anal!
- Control and visibility of your order book and pipeline at all times – you’ve got to know what sales are coming in
- A simple profit and loss report each month that shows your full year position – you always need to see the bigger picture and not just the month
- And I love a flash report – a simple weekly snapshot of the key things that will make or break your month
We behave differently when we’re not in a state of fear; we’re calmer, we make better decisions and we think more clearly, logically and creatively, we’re nicer to be around, we can be better leaders and have better ideas.
Being in fear will get you the opposite of the results you want.
The case for fear is dismissed.
Fear and Pricing
I ran a brand new workshop this week for D2N2 Growth Hub called “Get your pricing right to stay in business”.
As with all my workshops there was a lot of animated discussion throughout the morning as everyone shared their biggest challenges, and helped each other to solve them.
Can you guess what the biggest issue was?
It was Fear. And lack of confidence.
Fear that if we put our prices up we’ll “lose all of our customers” or “no one will want to work with us”
Notice the dramatic “all or nothing” language, and how this is driven from fear and not logic?
This irrational fear can keep us stuck. Undercharging and under-valuing what we do in the world, which will directly impact on our financial future and security.
It really helped everyone on the workshop to realise that it was just the fear that was holding them back, stopping them taking action, and that they all felt the same; they shared that lack of confidence.
And it was so great to see them leaving empowered and excited about taking control of their revenue and their bottom line, and able to better recognise those fearful thoughts for what they were. Not Real!
A big month for finance workshops!
There must be something in the autumn air but we’re running a record number of workshops this month.
- Sharon has been off running the CMBD level 5 program in financial management
- Chris ran a financial management workshop for NBV this week
- I ran the new pricing workshop for D2N2 Growth Hub (which was SO much fun!)
- I’ve got two more D2N2 workshops coming up
- Sharon and I are running a finance masterclass for Leicester Growth Hub
- And not forgetting my monthly workshop in London for the restaurant group that includes The Ivy and Annabels.
We’ve still got a few places left on the D2N2 workshop in Edwinstowe on Friday 16th November and the Leicester finance masterclass on Thursday 22nd.