Think Like a Business Owner by Paul Butler

04/14/2015 7:47 PM | Deleted user

Think Like a Business Owner

Most people don't. Most people check in and check out. From my observations around the world working with entities of all types, very few people think like a business owner. Imagine an organization where everyone understood the money-making model of the business; where they understood the financial jargon and how to interpret the financial statements. Imagine if everyone in senior management understood capital investment analysis and what that would do to the robustness of long-term decision making.

If you were to ask for my top tip for not being laid off in today's highly competitive workplace; one where outsourcing is becoming the norm, where the jobs get less plentiful the further you advance up the organizational pyramid, and where change is the only constant - it would be to sharpen your business intelligence.

Remember every business is a business. An educational entity (private or public) is a business. A non-profit entity is a business. A city municipality is a business. The definition of a business is an organization that sells goods and/or services. If it generates a profit (defined as income being greater than expenses) that's taxable, it's a for profit business. If, due to its social purpose it is not taxable, it's defined as a non-profit or not for profit business. Notice the last word in each definition? Yes, business.

Think. You can only advance so far in your career based on your technical ability. If you're also good at managing yourself you may be asked to lead others. But if you're technically excellent and a superb leader your contribution is capped if you lack business financial intelligence.

If your personal finances are a mess, please don't do the same with the organization's resources! One of the consistent findings in the financial mess of AIG, Enron, Tyco International and the web of Bernie Madoff was dreadful personal financial management. Funny how that works, isn't it? These folks may have had bigger pay checks than us but their personal financial affairs were a complete mess.

I remember my father saying to me as a young man: "You'll never be able to lead others if you can't manage yourself." I believe it's the same with business finances. How can you be invited to manage the organizational finances if you can't manage your own household?

I highly recommend websites such as to sharpen your knowledge of the stock market. Check out for understanding earnings calls. Read a good book or two on the subject, such as What the CEO wants you to know by Ram Charan or How to read financial reports by John Tracy.

Find a friend in finance within your organization and see if they will mentor you for a few working lunches on how to understand the organizational money-making model and to demystify the financial terms you hear in meetings (but presently nod your head pretending to understand them).

You may even consider bringing us in to teach a seminar called Business Financial Intelligence. We also offer this as a webinar, as well as an architecture for executive coaching.

No organization ever wants to let go of someone that is technically excellent; someone who manages themselves well, leads other superbly, and thinks like a business owner. 


Paul Butler, Client Partner, Newleaf Training and Development

(661) 877 6833

ATD-Los Angeles Chapter
9852 W. Katella Ave. #187
Anaheim, CA 92804
Chapter Code: CH8028

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