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Universal Truths about Business and Life!

Accounting and Healthcare have more in common than you think!

Jay Kimelman is the digital CPA.  That title describes him in every sense of the word.  He sees numbers in his head in nice neat columns, remembers them in photographic detail, and associates no emotion with those numbers on the page.  I try telling him that not everyone is like this but he really has no way to understand that.  I call him a Unicorn, he is amazing! So when I left my job as a nurse to help grow his firm, we thought, “Wendy is good with people, she can talk to anyone, she can do the marketing”.  The ways in which that thought process was problematic is the subject for another blog but forward we went into the unknown.  I hear some of you laughing out loud! Meeting with business owners on a regular basis, I have learned that some of them see numbers more like Jay, with little emotion, just numbers on the page.  Many business owners see numbers like me, as a measure of worth.  “Am I successful?” “Am I good at what I do?”  “Am I good person?” “Do people like me?”.  Check the bank balance, how is your credit card debt, do you have enough in your retirement, did that business sign with us?  Those things give me a number for my success or failure. I see business owners struggle every day and I want to help them all but the truth is, I can’t.  Some of them won’t let me, some of them can’t afford me, and some of them just don’t know what they don’t know.   But I have learned that all businesses have some similarities.  Some fundamental truths that can be found under every situation.  These are the truths I wanted to share:  

1.     You define your success!

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.  Many business owners just want to be accountable to themselves, do what they love, and pay their bills.  Some of them want to be wildly rich but after a while, most are content to just have what they need, care for their families and have a nice life.  It creates a lot of angst for the business owners I have worked with when the profits don’t come fast enough, they struggle to show their employees they value them with their salaries, and they realize even though they don’t have a boss, they still have to do things they don’t like.  Very few business owners I have met, including myself, start their business with a really clear idea of what they are working toward.  But, I have met some business owners who have been in business for a while who finally realized they had to create a picture of where they wanted to be before they could actually get there.  Call it a business plan, call it a vision board, call it a dream map, they all do the same thing!  If you have yet to define what success means to you, you may never get there because the goal post will keep moving!

2.     The basics are the basics and we all have to honor them.

For a business, bookkeeping is about as basic as it gets.  Jay can do lots of fancy things with tax returns, accounting software,  POS systems, inventory management systems and on and on.  But if a business does not have good basic bookkeeping, how much money came in, who it came in from, how much money went out, who it went out to, they have very little information about what to do more of and what to do less of.  I am struck all the time in my own business and in the businesses of my clients that most of them need better basic bookkeeping.  Some of my clients with smaller businesses and less total income, live much better and happier lives because they know exactly what they have coming in and they manage that.  They don’t manage what they hope will come in or what someone promised them will come in.  They manage what is. They often grow slowly but consistently.  They generally have very little debt.  They take calculated risks and recognize there are consequences to those risks.  Call it managing your assets, call it mindfulness, it is the same.  The basics matter and the longer you avoid them, the more their will be to clean up.  But they never go away.

3. You cannot eliminate mistakes, you can only mitigate them.

As a nurse, I learned this rule the hard way.  As long as we have human beings doing tasks, mistakes will happen.  We fool ourselves into thinking that getting smarter, building in safeguards, and hiring “the right people” we keep mistakes from happening in our business.  It doesn’t.  Now that I am in mid life, I think about each mistake I make as a lesson I either need to learn new, learn again, or be reminded of.  When your business is life and money, people get really fussy about mistakes.  When I was in nursing school, a friend of mind owned a flower shop.  One night we had dinner and I was sharing about a clinical experience I had that day that was stressful.  Her comment to me was “Man, when I make a mistake at work, someone gets the wrong flowers”.  At that moment I realized that the capacity to make the mistake is not changed based on the importance of the outcome.  In my business today, I am aware that what happens after I make a mistake is really the most important thing.  I want my clients to know that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes.  I know they will make mistakes that I will need to help them fix.  The real valuable peice of information, we are in this together.  We rise and fall together, we work hard and prosper together, we grieve and celebrate………..together.  Not everyone values that and that is how I know they may not be the right client for me. One day, I am going to write a book on universal truths.  You know the ones we all know but forget about from time to time.  The ones that when we are reminded of them again we wonder how we could have forgotten how critical they are.  In the mean time, I keep moving forward!  I hope you do too!

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