In an increasingly interconnected world of work where transparency is paramount, small business owners, managers, team leaders, analysts – and just about anyone aiming for the top (or even the middle) – should have solid financial literacy. Why? Because every decision a manager or leader makes has financial implications for a business.
As the saying goes, it’s an accrual world out there. But if the thought of studying finance drives fear into your non-numerical heart, or if you still consider budgeting a form of punishment, then it’s time to start thinking differently.
Anyone who passed even basic math at school can grasp the fundamentals of finance. It’s empowering, it’s worth every penny, and, yes, it can even be fun.
Benefits of understanding finance
By learning the basics of finance, entrepreneurs and business managers are empowered to:
- Manage upwards, create accountability, and engage in the language business leaders understand and use
- Contribute meaningfully to discussions around company financials
- Engage more proactively with finance teams and stakeholders
- Learn to make informed decisions based on the company’s financial information
- Engage more proactively around budgets within departments
- Keep up with the growing field of financial technology (Fintech)
- Gain a competitive advantage with greater job prospects and increased chances of promotion
Financial skills everyone should have
It doesn’t matter if you work in marketing, tech, consulting or manufacturing; finance is everywhere. If you’re pitching a project or looking for additional funding, understanding and being able to communicate how you can turn that investment into revenue for your company will help you make a more convincing argument.
Getting to grips with financial concepts – such as costing and planning, purpose-driven investing, and corporate governance – is as important as understanding the payroll, how to distribute dividends, and when to re-invest in product innovation. Here are four essential financial skills that will enable you to manage these with ease and become a smart asset to any company.
Being able to crunch numbers doesn’t mean you need previous experience as an accountant. Rather, it’s about proficiency in reading and understanding financial documents, including balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements and the financial results for the year. Mastering these gives you a clear picture of your business’s financial health and future initiatives.
- Analytical thinking
While team members will prepare statements, business managers must perform financial statement analysis by studying the performance metrics found on various financial statements and through financial ratios. They can then use this information to leverage the business.
By learning how to take quantitative data and use it to solve problems – and make sound business decisions – you gain a valuable skill that can serve you well in your company and career.
- Planning and budgeting
It’s important to develop your knowledge of the differences between planning, budgeting, and forecasting and the unique role each plays. A financial plan defines the financial direction and vision of the organisation within the context of a broader business plan.
A budget determines how the business will spend its capital during the next period and inform decisions about resource allocation – from salaries to office supplies. Both short- and long-term forecast projects the business’s financial future and, based on data, allows executives to make changes in real-time, adjusting their operations, such as production, marketing approach, and staffing.
Decision-making is an essential management skill that has a huge impact on a business’s financial performance. Research by McKinsey shows that organisations with fast and efficient decision-making processes are twice as likely to report financial returns of at least 20% (as a result of recent decisions). Inefficient decision-making, on the other hand, leads to over half a million days of lost working time and millions wasted on labour costs per year.
Being able to read data effectively to, for example, calculate financial risk and analyse macroeconomic variables, allows managers to make quick, informed decisions that help them avoid pitfalls and overcome business challenges.
Master finance with MasterStart
As business magnate and investor Warren Buffet said: “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” By enrolling in a course that enables you to gain a quality finance education (in a format that works for your schedule), you’re on your way to knowing exactly what you’re doing.
Through peer-to-peer learning experiences, access to industry experts and a supportive community, anyone can excel at spreadsheets! Contact us today to book your place in our eight-week online Finance Course for Non-Financial Managers.