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How to Decrease Financial Anxiety in Your Business

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In a study from Statistica, From April 2020 to September 2022, anywhere from 25% to 37% of adults over 18 reported anxiety disorder symptoms in various 2-week periods. The average is around 30% over this nearly 30-month period. Also, I would assume the percentage is even higher for those who experience some anxiety. 

 

Business owners have more stress than the average person. In a 2021 study in Business News Daily, 52% of owners felt stressed over the year.

 

The Bible, Anxiety, and Planning (Ancient Wisdom)

 

In the Bible, Jesus says, "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34). In Philippians 4:6, it says, "do not be anxious for anything."  

 

What's interesting is that when I am told not to worry, I tend to worry more. It is like telling someone not to think of a purple elephant; that is all they think about. 

 

I am a Christian and know many anxiety issues stem from the lack of praying, trusting in God, and putting money and possessions too high a priority. But, as a business owner, how do I reconcile between planning and being a good steward of the resources, clients, employees, and responsibilities we have been given without having anxiety and worry?

 

My favorite compilation of books (the Bible) also has many verses on planning. For example, one great verse from Jesus says, "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?"

 

Why Forecasting Helps with Anxiety? 

 

We all experience some stress and should spend time forecasting or planning. When we are proactive and plan the best we can with what we know for the future, it can decrease anxiety. I am not saying we know everything. Below are five reasons that proper business financial forecasting and planning help to reduce anxiety.

1. Current Reality 

Businesses should spend time regularly assessing their current financial situation. Keeping current financials helps you understand your current revenue and profit levels. It also lets you know how you are doing according to your goals and, more importantly, what you have accomplished.

 

I recently read a book by Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan called "The Gap and the Gain ." The book's premise is that you should measure yourself on the gain you have accomplished from a year ago, three years ago, and even longer. Unfortunately, most people measure themselves on the gap from where they want to be. This doesn't mean you don't have goals to grow, but it isn't something you keep stressing about. When you focus on the gap of what you are accomplishing, it is much more rewarding.  

 

How do you focus on your gain if you don't even have current financials? This would be difficult. What if you are working on a set of incorrect assumptions? Even a month or two of bad financials can get you off track. You could be patting yourself on the back because you have cash in the bank, or you could be stressed out thinking your business is failing. I know these are extremes.

 

2. Financial Vision

A financial vision for your business is an excellent way to plan for revenue opportunities, staffing, operating expenses, and cash flow. Once you have a good understanding of your current reality, you can more easily create a vision. First, there is a plan if you keep doing the same things. Then certain activities can strategically take your business to the next level.

 

I always start working with businesses by creating a financial forecast. It can be exciting when business owners begin to see the different possibilities by making tweaks to their business. Sometimes ideas and thoughts need to test on paper (or Microsoft Excel) to make sure it all makes sense.

 

How exciting and helpful would it be to make a decision with a tool that allows you to make some adjustments and scenarios to see how that affects your revenue, profit, and cash flow? Moreover, it makes decision-making less stressful.

 

3. Operational Ease

Once you understand your current reality and the vision for your business, you can better understand the need to change to improve your operations. Maybe some systems and processes need to be updated.

 

One of my favorite systems to implement is Bill.com, which helps streamline bill entry, approvals, and payments electronically and saves 40-50% of time. There are many ways to automate, make electronic, and organize information so you can make decisions.

 

I have been working on a project to understand the cost of vehicle and equipment purchases. Unfortunately, as the business has grown, the data has become disorganized and difficult to compile and make decisions. There needs to be a better system. However, we can see the current reality and know the future vision. The anxiety of making expensive equipment purchases will decrease with effort, planning, and organization. It might even save some money.

 

4. Risk and Reward

 

We know there are risks. Right now, there is the risk of inflation, rising interest rates, rising or volatile fuel prices, and the changing workforce. How do we plan for all the risks, so we are prepared? Of course, there is no way to plan for everything, but you can be more informed. There are usually signs of changes that allow for planning. Maybe contingency planning is necessary to understand what would happen in an economic downturn, natural disaster, or pandemic. Are you a flexible company that can pivot? Do you need to pivot now? How much does this cost?  

 

Businesses that plan and have more cash tend to do much in a recession. Sometimes these businesses can even grow and especially after the recession is over. In the article "3 Ideas to Make Your Business More Prepared for a Recession", I state that diversification, cash and profit, and scenario planning are essential for preparing.

 

Those who do more planning for a downturn will be rewarded the most. I am not saying there isn't stress, but those who are more prepared would have less anxiety than others.

 

5. Excitement Defeats Worry

It is hard to be grateful and anxious at the same time. I also believe that worry tends to make people think in a scarcity mindset. Planning and forecasting different opportunities help you think in abundance, which is exciting.

 

If you are someone who understands their current reality and looks at what they have gained, you will have more excitement.

 

Suppose your business has a financial vision that you put into action. In that case, you will be more motivated and excited about your business and work.

 

What if you wake up and have a well-functioning company that does not require fires and stress? You can take vacations without checking email and being on call all the time. You have more real-time numbers and can make informed decisions. Wouldn't this lead to less anxiety?

 

Finally, once all this is working together, there is simply excitement that is all working, and you can continue to build a business to make the impact you want.

 

Conclusion

 

We all deal with stress from time to time, which is good. If you didn't have stress, you wouldn't even take the time to do any planning or improvements. Over time, this would eventually cause more stress, or your business will fail to keep up and grow. No stress at all leads to complacency, which can lead to laziness. On the other hand, you can get stuck if you are under constant debilitating stress due to chaos in your business.  

 

The solution to getting unstuck is better planning and forecasting.