Knowing your numbers

22nd May by Kate Freedman

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When I write the monthly blog, I send it to my amazing father to proofread before posting. When writing this one I can already hear him chuckling away. The reason I send it on for help is because I know my weakest solopreneur skills even six years into running a coaching business are still my lack using the correct grammar and my grasp of numbers.

The first stems from swearing that I wasn’t taught grammar at school in my day and hence heavily relying on others to correct my work and the numeracy issue I know stems from a core belief that I am rubbish at Maths. My family still tease me to this day about my need to use a calculator for everything and how I winged it when I was a product buyer using spreadsheets I couldn’t read. All of these stories get stuck in my fears about number work. In these moments I remind myself of my preferences for verbal communication and not wanting to look at detail and either dig deep or seek help!

Knowing your numbers is critical to running a business and basic financial acumen is a skill to learn and get comfortable with if you want to build and maintain a successful business. To be a coaching solopreneur it’s important to not let the lack of comfort with numbers get in your way. Your number work fears often start when constructing a business plan and it amazes me how so many coaches don’t have any grasp of their annual turnover and costs and even fewer understand how to manage their books.

For many getting into coaching is not about making money and therefore paying attention to their business profitability is not front of mind but coaching well, with presence and at the scale needed to make an income, requires us to be as good commercially as we are professionally in our delivery. Our coaching reputation and repeat business, if we are in the game for the long-term, requires us to learn to be financially savvy.

The good news is that financial skills can be learnt and help can be sought. If nothing else I encourage you to feel the fear and get familiar with the numbers by making it personal. Knowing your why for the business can help here – why have you gone into running the business in the first place and what would success look like to you? Is it earning a living, providing for others or being successful that enables you to do more for others and change peoples’ lives for the better. Whatever the motivation, how can you start by quantifying that ambition and building a plan to reach that goal. With that success metric you can start to work on what numbers will help that goal be realistic and feasible. The motivation of having the value of the work spelt out will help you break down the numbers into sales targets, what to spend and what overheads to control and what you can afford to get help with to achieve the ambition.

Still stuck in making your numbers stack up? This is the time to seek skill support or market knowledge from others to test your number assumptions or unlock the mental block around your skills.

If you are seeking help, then it won’t surprise you that market knowledge and financial questions have been the number one topic in the Solopreneur Coach Community forum and in my client business mentoring 1-1s. It seems that I am not alone in constantly needing support in seeking to know my numbers and working on my weaker solopreneur skills but together we can see more coaching businesses thrive!

Our thanks to coach and AoEC consultant coach/faculty Kate for allowing us to share this blog.

If you would like to know more about setting up your own coaching practice, you will find more resources in Kate’s Solopreneur Coaching Community on her website. And you can purchase her first book - The Coaching Solopreneur from Amazon.