How to Overcome Your Fear of Accounting and Make Better Business Decisions

There are mountains of research on why we get a fear response to things. 

The fear response is that empty feeling in your gut, the racing of your heart, palms sweating, and the nervousness.

Fear is as basic a human process as breathing and it allows us to escape and avoid threat.  There is a lot of research about why and how it comes about but still it is not fully understood.

People tend to fear what they don’t understand or know – things we don’t understand are seen by the brain as threatening. 

That means ambiguity is terrifying to us because we need to know what’s happening in order to feel safe.  To make things worse, the behaviour of people around us can influence our response to the unknown.

In our hyper-informed world we see little bits of everything and it is very hard to piece together a full picture – that leaves unknowns and ambiguity causing us to feel scared.

Put more simply,

Once we understand something, we know what to do; if we don’t understand it, we start to panic.

So …

“The solution is facing the thing we’re afraid of. … However, we have to be willing to accept a certain amount of fear in order to beat that fear.”

David Tolin, author of Face Your Fears 


For many, accounting falls into the category of things we don’t understand.

You might think you’ve never been good at numbers or you may have been told you are not smart enough to understand them.  Perhaps an accountant or a family member has told you to leave it to the experts or outsource it.  

However, as you know, I believe all business owners can understand accounting once  they view it as the story of their business. For me, it is an absolute privilege to work with business owners and managers  to overcome their fear and lead them to a state of confident curiosity.  

Here’s how you can come to  understand your business numbers and be able to listen to what they want to tell you.

Step 1: Accept some fear to break your fear.

Accounting might not be your comfort zone and that’s OK.   Now how will you accept and address it?

Fear is a powerful force but  all that stands between you and your fear is  action 

Thank you for accepting some fear in order to beat your fear!

What Action can you take to introduce yourself gently to your numbers? Here are some suggestions:-

 – If some one else is preparing them ask them to walk you through what they do and why

– If you are doing them yourself  have a crack at looking at a profit and loss statement  

Step 2: Familiarity breeds understanding  

Action also  builds confidence . Confidence is acquired and developed – no one is born with it.!

We destroy fear over and over  with confident action .

Like any new skill working with business numbers takes time to master.  At first you just need to follow through anything you think isn’t right – over time as you correct the buckets your data is collected into you will be able to interrogate the story to give you suggestions for improvement.

Find a trusted business ally to work through your numbers, tell you what they mean, and which ones are most important to your business story etc

Step 3: Using the force

Our force is “curiosity” – you can never ask too many questions when it comes to your business.

As a business owner  It is your responsibility to understand every aspect of your business in order to bring it all together and deliver the special gift you have to your customers.

The lovely thing about curiosity around your business numbers is the increased understanding that ripples out from it.

You may find you need to repeat these steps in the various areas of business numbers until fear is completely locked away.  Business is a journey of ups and downs and fear creeps back in sometimes. Remember to take action, build confidence and curiously seek answers to improve your business position.

Reach out if you’d like a hand to harness those numbers to make better business decisions

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