Have you ever looked at a task you needed to do and, without thinking about it too much, said: "I can't do that"?
Then, after a healthy dose of procrastination, deciding to get stuck in and just have a go anyway, thought "that was really easy! Imagine how much more quickly I could have done it if I hadn't wasted all that time putting it off?"
The reason I bring this up is because so many of the intelligent, amazing, entrepreneurial women I speak to on a daily basis think:
"Tax return? I'll mess it up."
"Sending an invoice to someone I've done work for and asking for money? Not sure how I feel about that - how would I even decide how much to charge?"
"Bookkeeping? Me? I'm rubbish at maths."
"People like me can't quit their jobs to do their own thing."
"Starting a business? That sounds risky and complicated. Don't think I could handle that..."
And so on. You get my point, right?
When you look deeper into what you're stopping yourself from doing, you'll usually find that it's actually pretty easy, but your initial thoughts and feelings on the subject were stopping you from taking action. You were blocking your own path.
We all do this; it's totally normal. But it becomes a problem when we let these initial dismissive thoughts prevent us from following our passions.
That's why I believe working on our mindset is something we all need to do, as while it doesn't completely eradicate these self-limiting thoughts, it makes them far less frequent and easy to recognise when we do encounter them.
It's really common for women to be naturally self-deprecating, as we're taught from a young age to be modest and not to be a show-off. So we need to work extra hard to remind ourselves that actually, we can do pretty much anything if we put our mind to it.
Managing our finances is one of the top triggers when it comes to self-doubt, because money can be such a sensitive and emotive subject. It's easy to attach a lot of feeling towards money and feel scared of somehow "failing". But money is just a tool that we can use to buy ourselves a more comfortable life (and more pizza). There's nothing wrong with wanting it, there's nothing wrong with not being too bothered about it and it's only as complicated as you make it. We complicate it in our heads.
You might feel uncomfortable charging someone for the time you've spent working on a project, because you enjoyed it. You might think that you can't manage your finances because you don't like maths. You might think that you can't run a business because you don't know anything about it.
You'll need to work on those thoughts if you want to succeed, because they will affect the way you work and probably result in failure at some level.
Also, as an accountant I'm obliged to tell you that bookkeeping and tax is more about data entry than maths. If you use my income and expenses tracker it does all the work for you, and when you file your tax return online the system automatically calculates the numbers for you. All you have to do is enter the information.
Here are some tips to start you off if you do struggle with negative or self-limiting thoughts.
- Just do it. This is the best advice ever (thanks, Nike)! If you're not sure whether you're capable of doing something, just have a go anyway without thinking too much about it - you might surprise yourself.
- Remember what you've already achieved. I bet there are lots of things you never thought you'd accomplish but have. Keep that in mind next time you doubt yourself.
- If you have a recurring negative thought, like "Nobody will pay for my services.", question it. Why do you think that? Has anything happened to support this belief? Have you asked someone to pay and they've said no? The likelihood of this is that actually, there isn't any evidence to support this thought and you're protecting yourself from potential hurt by staying in your comfort zone and self-sabotaging.
- It sounds cheesy, but make your negative thought positive ones. If you often think "tax returns are confusing" try to consciously dispel that with "tax returns are easy." It really helps, I swear.
- Take the first step. Just take the first tiny action you need to, whether that's doing a bit of research or finding your HMRC login details. You'll probably find that once you've done that, the next steps will come naturally.
Being able to manage your business finances successfully comes from confidence and simply taking action when you need to. That's why it's so important to have a positive mindset.
You can do it!
I'm a financial coach and mentor helping female business owners to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to manage their finances successfully and have a positive relationship with money. If you're ready to take control of your finances, click below to find out how I can help you.
I also have a range of amazing resources which you can use to help improve your business finances.