Do you need an education to be a successful entrepreneur? Not necessarily, but it sure helps if you know the three Rs: reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
In business, you’ll need to read contracts and instructions, legal documents and lots and lots of information. You are doing it now. The more you read, the more you think. The more you think, the better you’ll run your business.
Writing can be just as important. There are times you’ll want to write a business letter or marketing materials. This is something you can outsource easier than reading.
Then there’s ‘rithmatic. If you are in business, it is to make money. You make money by earning more than you pay. It helps to be able to calculate ROI (return on investment), and manipulate fixed costs and variable costs. Of course, you can always hire an accountant, but there are three drawbacks to that:
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- Accountants cost money, often quite a bit.
- You would be putting more than just counting in the hands of someone else. You would be putting a lot of strategic decision-making in their hands, too.
- You have to wait. Unless you have a very big budget, the accountant won’t be at your beck and call when you need some quick math to be done.
There’s no way around it. You should be able to do math if you are in business. But you can make the math less painful, at least the simple day-to-day math.
There are a lot of great online calculators for lazy and math-challenged entrepreneurs.
My favorite is XE.com. This is a currency converter. It’s not much help for a local business, but when your client base comes from around the world, I can tell you how handy it is. Here are some others:
- A mileage reimbursement calculator can help determine how much to pay staff when they go on a mission for your business.
- The CAA Car Costs calculator gives you a bird’s eye view of vehicle costs.
- A car loan calculator can help you figure out the financing costs of your company vehicles.
Also on the subject of loans, a simple APR calculator can help. You would think that something this simple could just be done in your head, but APR is one of those calculations that seems to confound almost everyone.
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Employees cost money. Salary is just part of that cost. I think this True Cost of an Employee calculator is a really sharp idea. You might never hire anybody again.
This is one you’ll never want to use: a business interruption calculator. That calculator is for when you have to stop doing business for a while. This will help you figure out how much money you would lose. Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself saying that it “came in handy.”
One of the reasons you might need to interrupt your business is if you are injured. Here is a business disability calculator. Using this one could hurt in more ways than one, but if you need it, it will be handy.
If you do retail, you'll want to know how well your inventory is performing. So a simple inventory turnover calculator will help.
Let's finish with a flourish, just as if this was a fireworks show. BDC has a suite of business calculators that measure all sorts of business performance indications, such as debt-to-asset ratio and quick ratio, as well as net profit margin and return on equity.
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Message to kids: These online calculators do not give you permission to slack off on your math studies. Just because you can type your assignments, does not mean you should abandon cursive writing, as David Leonhardt wrote about here. So sit up and take note. Learn your math today, and be lazy with shortcuts when you start your own business.