Rookie Bean CounterMy rookie year…

Once upon a time, I quit my real job (restaurant manager – good salary, benefits and someone to cover for me when I wasn’t around) and went to work for my husband, Hot Rod, in his contracting company.

It was the dumbest decision I have ever made. It was hell. I left my steady paycheck behind and assumed financial responsibility for a sinking-fast company. I was college educated. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Business Administration.

The BS really stood for my approach to business. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was the rookie bean counter. And, I didn’t know my asset from my elbow.

I did NOT want to crunch numbers, look at spreadsheets or confront our financial situation. I wanted so badly for a magical bean counter fairy to wave a wand and make millions of dollars appear in our checking account.

“Shouldn’t our accountant handle this?” I fumed. “I don’t have time to figure this out,” I whined. I just didn’t want to deal with the money.

That approach might have worked if we had lots of money. However, we were running out and digging a deep hole of dept.

Sigh. When the pain of the current condition becomes greater than the fear of change…you’ll change. When I finally got fed up with financial worries, I took a deep breath and said, “OK. I’ll do this.”

No one else was going to figure this out for me. It was my responsibility. Hot Rod was doing his part…he worked from dawn ‘til dusk turning wrenches. It would have to be me. I was finally ready to go over, under, around or through any obstacle between me and financial understanding. I was ready…finally.

Once I committed, it took me about a year to develop a firm understanding of the accounting. Thank goodness for my helpful accountant, Brenda. I struggled along and she checked my homework. I tackled my accounting software and labored over debits and credits. I did whole months of data entry all wrong and had to undo and redo them. I once lost 11 months of data when a neighborhood kid stopped by to visit, stepped on the electrical extension strip and turned off the computer. (Computers were more sensitive back then.)

Once I committed, there were serendipitous moments of …fun. Yes, fun! Accounting is like a crossword puzzle. Numbers add up and across. If you are “off” somewhere, it is probably you, not the computer or the software. And, it is FUN to find and fix the glitch in your data entry. I raised my nerd flag and to this day I wave it proudly.

The BEST part: Finally understanding where we stood financially. I was afraid of knowing. That’s why I fought it for so long. Once we had the data, so many of the emotional issues fell away. We had the score and could make decisions based on the score. No more arguing about working hard enough or being good enough. We could see the problem. We weren’t charging enough. We had to raise our prices. If that meant we would go out of business, so be it. What a relief.

Turns out people pay much higher prices than you think they would. How about that? We made decisions based on the data. I knew where the money went and how to make more of it. Very cool.

Commit or Quit…

How about you? Are you the wife of a roofer? Did you get thrown into the bookkeeping? Are you still kicking and screaming? If so…I encourage you to make a decision right now: Get going or get out.

Are you new to the company and overwhelmed by what the boss is asking of you? You aren’t an accountant and you don’t have much experience with accounting software. He can’t possibly want you to make sense of the mess of numbers…can he?

Why not? Why not you? Commit…or quit. Should you choose to commit and learn basic accounting, you will have a skill set that is in high demand by employers. You will also have the tools you need to manage your family fortune…and maybe start your own business. No bad thing comes from learning business and accounting basics.

Here’s the key for moving from rookie bean counter to rockin’ money maker: Your commitment. This stuff is NOT that hard. You can do it. Figuring out what the accounting words mean is more than half the challenge. You can do it. Basic accounting is a simple, beautiful logical system. You may even learn to love it.

You will need some help. Are you