CRAIG ALEXANDER RATTRAY says good financial management is key to reducing stress
Mental health is something I am passionate about for many reasons as I have had friends and colleagues suffer from the condition and, sadly, have lost people to suicide. It is fair to say that my mental health was adversely impacted by a messy and acrimonious divorce six years ago that dragged on for more than three years. At the time I did not fully realise the impact. It was only looking back that I realised the adverse effect it had on me, my mood and my performance, and indeed my physical health.
I have spent a lot of time during the last year better understanding how my mind and brain works, and this had made a huge difference to my performance.
Most of us have a need for certainty, safety, stability and predictability in our lives. However, when it comes to business, creating certainty and stability can be challenging especially during times of change and upheaval like the last year has brought.
I have seen the impact of challenging financial circumstances in many businesses over the years and what it has done to business owners and their senior management team.
It is often the finance team that suffers, fending off calls from disgruntled suppliers chasing up payment and not knowing who they can pay and when.
Similarly, this causes huge worry for the business owner.
How will I pay the wages?
How will I pay the suppliers?
How will I get out of this?
It can be challenging and most definitely impacts on mental health.
In my day, we were not taught how to manage our personal finances at school. Nor were we taught how our brain and thoughts work, nor how to manage stress and anxiety.
I am not aware that this has changed.
We spend billions every year on drugs for depression and related areas. More than 500 million people suffer from anxiety and depression worldwide, and the cost of this treatment is expected to reach £14 trillion by 2030.
That is a staggering number of people and cost to us.
From a business owner’s perspective various things can be done to create certainty within uncertainty. If you know where you are, you have a better chance of knowing where you are going.
My key tips are:
- Ensure you have robust and up-to-date financial information.
- Create a monthly integrated forecast encompassing profit and loss account, balance sheet and cash flow, and compare actual performance against this every month and seek to understand why it is different. If it is “good different” do more or it, if it is “bad different” make changes.
- Forecast, manage and monitor the weekly cash flow forecast. This will show future low points and should provide time to make changes and deal with it.
It is vital to keep a close relationship with your bank and shareholders. Keep them appraised of performance and developments, good and bad. Explain the bad and what you are doing to make changes. This will inspire confidence and make them want to support.
Explain the financial support required, why it is required and for how long.
When will things change and improve?
Doing this allows business owners and their finance teams to create certainty amidst uncertainty.
The impact of this on mental health and well-being is huge.
I know my clients sleep better and do not worry by having all of this in place.
I am a shareholder and CFO of a company that is developing the world’s first AI driven wearable device that reduces anxiety and depression while helping improve cognition and performance. The company’s mission is to develop solutions that will serve 1 billion people across the world over the next five to ten years, and help alleviate the problem of deteriorating mental health.
Until our devices are ready, focus on good financial management and forecasting, and create your own certainty amidst uncertainty.
Craig Alexander Rattray’s column on issues affecting owner managers appears on alternate Mondays