Why financial skills are a valuable asset for everyone
I’m not an Accountant. I’m not a Finance Expert. I’m a UX Designer and I’m volunteering to be the Finance Director of our startup. This probably sounds like a bad team decision. It’s not, it’s an opportunity. Not only to grow as a person but also to understand what happens below the surface of a startup.
If you want to start your own business it’s not enough to be an excellent designer or have an extraordinary idea. It’s essential to understand how your business can survive and be successful in the long run. Which means you need to be comfortable with the financial details. Our finance & pricing lecturer Simon Hulme explained it with the following example. You want to know if some fishes are gathering under your boat. You want to know what kind of fishes they are and what they are doing. You cannot just ignore them.
Simon Hulme is an accomplished business angel, management consultant, professional mentor and non-executive director. He created a financial model which we can use for our startups. This excel sheet gives non-financial experts an easy way to calculate key indicators.
I want to be able to react quickly to a critical financial situation. This means to keep your eyes open and learn little by little which numbers are an indicator. The task is to monitor the numbers closely along the way and to stay focused to see the clues. Honestly, accounting was never my favorite subject. What a surprise! I always felt the exercises we did during my school years were so far away from reality. I didn’t know what to do with it or how they would be useful in real life. I was never interested enough to understand them because I could not see the purpose. My situation has changed. I’m not in school anymore. I do my Masters now. I have work experience and a lot more background knowledge. I know that even if you don’t like numbers it’s not possible to run a successful business without them. The new approach of Simon Hulme motivated me to try it again.
I am not the person who can work easily with numbers, but that’s not the point. It’s not about having the skill to do it, it’s about having the motivation to learn it. As Dweck (2006) explains, people with a growth mindset can handle positive or negative feedback about their abilities better. They are confident that they can develop themselves. They focus on learning so it’s important to them to know how they are doing at the moment and where they can improve. (Dweck, 2006) I don’t have financially sophisticated skills, but I believe in self-improvement. I can develop my current abilities further anytime.
In my opinion, every Designer should at least be able to interpret some relevant numbers. It’s a valuable extension of your skill set. Which is exactly the reason why I made the decision to function as the Finance Director of our startup. Furthermore, with Christie, Mick & Kieran I have a strong team around me. We will make every essential decision about our finances together. If you have a growth mindset and helpful people around you, you are more likely to reach your goals.
So for me 1 + 1 = challenge accepted
Thank you for reading,
I share insights, reflections and hands-on experience throughout my year at Kingston University London. I study MA Communication Design & the Creative Economy (MACE). Please be part of my journey and let me know what you think on Twitter.
Dweck, C., 2012. Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. Hachette UK.