by Sandra Radja
I'm wearing my other hat today, the one that usually lays dusty under the bed, worn and bedraggled and past it's use by date. My hat is in the Sannyasin stage of it's life; it's only desire left is to tell stories to the world, to apprise us all of it's many experiences in the dark hell of the corporate world to the creative vision of artisans and non profits alike. Listen to this story, because without your own hat, your personal vision and your desire to help others and change the world might fall short for something as menial as a bounced check.
I used to be an accountant. I guess I have enough brain waves that have been grooved that I probably still am , like that second language you used to be fluent in. Give me a spreadsheet and profit and loss statement and who knows what second nature habits will come back into play. I never really loved the day to day monotony of being an accountant but I did love helping businesses refine themselves and streamline their work to bring their product to market. And if I believed in what they did, then I had that extra bit of oomph to think outside the box. I travelled the world and paid for it with contract roles. I was the janitor brought in to fix things up and then hand them over to the status quo. I liked that idea and it served my temperament. And I picked up some handy points along the way, of how businesses run well and what causes stagnation.
Because in this micro/macro world, if your house is your second skin, so is the way you run your business. Looking back I can see the Vikruti/Prakruti of an organisation. I could see where stagnation was and where Prana just went out the window. I was fortunate enough to be in roles that allowed me the overall perspective, and being a practitioner is not that different - just different tools.
So here are some ideas to play with your own. Accounting does not have to seem scary or something to be avoided. If you expect that doing the dishes come with enjoying the benefits of a cooked meal, then accounting should come with the benefits of helping others via your Ayurvedic practise.
KNOW YOUR BOOKS
Hire a good accountant if you need. But hire them to teach you what to look for in your statements. Do not hand this power over as a business owner. And a good accountant should NOT use jargon to baffle you. This is not rocket science. They should be able to relate the story back to your product so that you do remain invested in the numbers. When I have worked for visionaries that did not know how to read a P&L and Balance Sheet, they would make decisions based on reaction and politics. And once politics enters the arena, then you know the decisions are based on personal agenda and not the agenda of the whole.
MAKE IT SIMPLE
Find a software that appeals to you for it's simplicity. There are many online accounting software programs that are SO EASY to use. You just spent a bunch of money going to school and getting photographs for your website and spending money on flyers because you think that's important. Take the time to do the tutorial and learn how to use it. You may eventually hand this over, but you should ALWAYS remain in control and know what to ask for. I have seen good people get screwed over by employees because they had no idea how things balanced out.
MONEY IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
Do your books regularly. You may realise your choice in particular suppliers or particular activities don't make you any money. One of the trickest aspects of working for creatives is that they get romanced into the idea of something and they don't realise all that it takes to make a profit. Profit is not a dirty word, it pays for your rent and electricity and more marketing. If you cannot make money, you cannot help others. You will spend time focusing on how to survive. As I know personally working in practise, you cannot serve others when your ojas is depleted and in fact it does a disservice because you don't come from a strong place in your advice. Be realistic in your views of what you purchase and from whom.
It does not serve your business to not know when your products are arriving. Customers like to depend on you not only for what you do but how consistent you are in your delivery. No one will come back if you cancel your appointments regularly. This should feed into everything you choose. If a supplier does not deliver on time on a consistent basis, then it will feed down the line to affect your reputation. This is a HUGE topic in corporate culture and why you see the Japanese create such stringent controls over their supply chain, most especially in the car manufacturing market. It redefined the market and others were forced to follow suit. Have this conversation with your suppliers and get to know how they work. Don't wait to be told, take the initiative to participate in your arrangements. In corporate culture they have a purchasing manager that takes on these contracts. That is one of your hats to wear.
BUDGET JUST MEANS BEING IN AWARENESS
This is all it is - let me pay attention to how I will get sales over the next month/quarter/year. Let me see what I actually pay each month in expenses. Ok, now I have an idea of profit/loss I can expect. Now let me see if I really need that much broadband or do I need to buy flowers each week or how can I promote myself more to increase sales. I noticed that around the middle of Summer things slow down in practise. Perhaps I should try and do a workshop then. This is just an awareness exercise. The real question is whether you want to know. And if you find out you are not profitable then there may be some digging deep as to whether this is something to pursue. If you are spending time on something that doesn't work, you might not be creating the space for something that will really make you shine. Budgets are only a tool to pay attention.
CREATE A SYSTEM
You work with people helping them to enact new habits. It helps when you start with a system that you follow, such as the morning routine. It seems clunky at first but slowly things become second nature. This is how I would advise beginning.
- Create a box for receipts and one for payments. Whether hard copy or a folder on your email account. When you receive one put it in the box
- Create space in your week to do the work. I do not recommend a whole day unless you are weird like me. Set time aside for a couple hours/week and do one thing, like enter receipts, then enter payments.
- Get someone to show you how to reconcile a bank statement. It's not tricky once you get shown how and a lot of software these days will help you along.
- Once a month look at your numbers. Look at the trend month/month and see how things move and change for you. You can usually find this under the reports section.
- Be honest with how much time you spend per client. If you are doing a lot of paperwork per client session, your fee will reduce dramatically. Be reasonable in your offerings. We are there to provide care but we also need to be sustainable.
As an adviser I was so much more effective when I worked for a visionary that knew their books. We could make change quickly and effectively. Just like we use pranayama, asana, herbs and pancha karma to get into the cracks of our being that we may not be paying attention to, your business world is the same in its essence. Always strive to do things better and use the tools that make sense. Just change the feeling you have about Accounting into the dishes that come with cooking a great meal. And if one day, metaphorically, you can buy a dishwasher, then you at least know when it breaks down you can take over temporarily.
Good luck and may I even deign to wish you to have fun!