How to Complete a Distance Running Race with Confidence and Speed


While competing in biathlon and cross country skiing I found a distinct advantage of being able to preview the course a few days before and event. This built confidence and enabled us to develop a strategy for each section of it.  Luckily the trail running route for Seek the Peak is in my backyard (well close to it) so I can run it as often as I like. It has nearly been two years since I ran the trails from Ambleside Park to Grouse Mountain in West Vancouver so the details are a little hazy.

Getting the  Pace and Distance Training Device to Work

After two  years of letting my Garmin Forerunner 305 sit idle in a drawer because I thought it wouldn’t synchronize with my computer anymore I decided to try again. When the original error occurred even technical support personnel suggested I send it in and might be repaired or even better buy a new one. I was elated that after a few software downloads and installations it synchronized!

Being able to now use a training device with GPS (navigation), heart rate and pace makes the data geek in me grin cheek to cheek! More data to pour over.

Finding Stage 1 of Seek the Peak

Although it was a little chilly and looked like it was going to rain it was time to get running. Sunday’s goal was to navigate through the first two stages of Seek the Peak and test the pace. Stage one begins at Field F in Ambleside Park  then travels around Park Royal mall, along the Capilano River to finish under Highway 1. Easy to find.   After setting Field F as the first navigation point my feet started with a slow run.

The bridge was reached an a quick 18 minutes while l still felt fresh. This was the end of stage one and the start of stage two.At each landmark or change of direction I set running navigation points for future reference.

Getting Slightly Lost A Few Times

Stage 2 is not quite as straight forward. The first section is fairly fast with a gradual uphill. There is a sharp right turn  where the trail goes downhill past the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but close by you can also go straight or up to the left uphill. This bit is a lot of fun and the feet can move fast. Be quick and light footed around the roots.

Keep following the Capilano Pacific Trail through a series of ups and downs and bridges that are slippery when wet. The right on the Shinglebolt trail was a little confusing. While trail directions are clear the names of the trails were not always obvious.

There is signage for an observation deck with a short trail that merges with the main one. Stay left and the observation place will be on the right. Eventually Shinglebolt transitions to Coho Loop. The trail gets a bit gnarly. Look out for a metal bridge crossing directly over a big blue pipe. Cross over it to wind up towards a series of stairs, yes stairs. My confidence started to falter after the stairs. I couldn’t really remember where to go next.

Instead of keeping left along Pacific Palisades I went right instead which brought me into a big parking lot. Crossing the parking lot I  met up with the trail I should have been on. This then continued to climb up to an opening into Cleveland Park.

Grinding Out the Last Mile on Nancy Greene Way

The last mile made me nearly stop in 2010. It is a lot less exciting than the previous sections or even the next – Grouse Grind! Sing “the ants go marching one by one…” to stay motivated and keep plodding along. I kept looking down at my watch trying to keep the pace under 10:00 min/mile instead it averaged 13:27 min/mile at 172 bpm.

Finishing Stages 1 and 2

Maintaining a  consistent pace is more challenging when you don’t know where you are going. The lack of confidence slows you down. The data has some blank spots where the timer was stopped while I entered navigation points.  It looks like it took around 1:08 hour for 5.28 miles. Next time I run this path I will be able move more quickly and more easily monitor my energy output.

Legs felt fresh, energized and even and a spring in their step for the first 30-45 minutes. A good sign since the previous longest run was for the just over an hour on flat treadmill! However, the last 20 minutes my thighs started to burn and they lacked power to push off up Nancy Greene.  Time to do longer tempo intervals and more hills.

Click to see the full training session.

Run with Confidence and Speed

Running route before a running race increases confidence and pace on race day. It will be easier to find your way with hundreds if not thousands of people as well as course markers on event day. You will run faster and know how much to push your speed to finish with nothing left in the tank.

Getting a Foothold on Road Running in Vancouver

The first time my feet hit the pavement to go running on the road is always tenuous. Perhaps it is the memory of having knee pain for nearly ten years while running but not while cross country skiing. I proved to myself long ago by running one marathon and several half marathons that I can run easily without knee pain.

Each season begins with six to eight weeks building up to a confident 60 min treadmill run as well as two to three days of lower body strength training to build durability. The concept of using the treadmill to run on first is that if something does go sideways it easier to stop instead of being stuck somewhere on the road and needing to hobble back.

On Friday the sun was shinning with clear skies that gave way to a good view of the Vancouver mountains.  It was time for the rubber to hit the road.  The Stanley Park Seawall is a fairly flat run with a beautiful of view of the city for all runners and walkers.  There were many dogs and owners traveling the same route as I (some dogs were running their owners).

Setting the Running Goal

This run was primarily about seeing how my legs felt running along pavement instead of rubber under my feet.  There was a nice breeze to start from just in front of the Vancouver Convention Center.  The 4.0 miles (6.4 km) tempo run set to be a series of four intervals at 5 minutes at a 7:30 min/mile pace with  2 minute rest periods at a 10:00 min/mile pace with a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down on either side.

Getting the Feeling of Running Faster

With fresh legs I started the first interval right on pace before I heard someone gradually catching up with me. Time push the pace! Legs turnover more quickly and breathing rate kept pace. Beep, beep, beep ended the interval. Looking down at the watch face the pace was 6:30 min/mile. Just a little faster than planned. As my legs slowed down she passed me wearing a “Ran Van” long sleeve shirt; she is probably training for the Vancouver Marathon in a few weeks.

The turnaround at mile two happened to be Deadman’s Island. A nice landmark for future runs.  Paces for subsequent  intervals gradually slowed down indicating fatigue.  The positive side is that the recovery pace was around 9:00 – 10:00 min/mile, which was a goal set in February.

Run Analysis – Training Plan Adaptations

First outing on the road went very well. There was no knee pain and my energy stayed fairly high for the rest of the day. Although  a race pace of 7:30 min/mile is just at my anaerobic threshold heart rate of 170 bpm and not sustainable, it is comfortable. Training is on track but, the next tempo runs need to have longer intervals and/or be longer runs.

Now that spring is here have you started to run on the road more frequently?

Photo credit – Ted McGrath via Flikr

Getting Back to Preparing for Seek the Peak

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Canada Marketing Summit where I met some of this blog’s followers.  They mentioned that they enjoyed the posts about training for the Grouse Grind, so I thought it was time to provide more thoughts on the subject.

Last year was almost write off for participating in the Grind. Seek the Peak and the Grouse Grind Mountain Run were out of the picture instead finding and preparing a new space for my business took all my energy and time. Now settled, I am able to direct more attention towards staying physically fit.

Grouse Grind

Preparing for Seek the Peak 2014

For those unfamiliar with this race it rises 4100 feet and transverses 16 kilometers from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver to the top of Grouse Mountain and back down to the chalet. This event is a fundraiser for ReThink Breast Cancer; it can be completed solo or as a relay.  It is a fun spring challenge which I completed three times from 2010 to 2012. An uncompleted goal is to finish in under two hours.  Each year the course was slightly different due to trail construction or snow at the top.


Seek the Peak Results 2010 to 2012

Year  Stage 1  Stage 2  Stage 3  Stage 4  Total
2010  0:20:49  0:43:25  0:53:12  0:26:49  2:24:14
2011  0:16:49  0:36:03  0:47:08  0:22:19  2:02:18
2012  0:26:53  0:29:22  0:48:10  0:24:48  2:09:12

 Setting Goals for 2014

Three completions gives me some trends to work from.  Previous training data on Training Peaks shows me what training I was doing and how fit I was to accomplish  these times. My memory enables me to replay how I was feeling on each part of the terrain.

Stage 1

The first stage is fairly flat and is a quick 3.5km jog behind Park Royal, along the Capilano River to just under the bridge. 2011 was my fastest year while  in 2012 I wasn’t confident in my fitness so I started out too slowly.

Goal: 0:16:00 min at 4:34 min/km – start further up to the front and go out faster.

Stage 2

This 6 km stage undulates through the forest, often with downhills, stairs and flat sections. There are places to pass or be passed. It is an opportunity to have a little fun and move more quickly. Two years it opened up into a the Capilano River Regional park before heading up Nancy Green Way the other year it went over the dam itself.   In 2010 the road heading up to the Grind was literally a grind! In 2011 I made sure run on that road often so that my body and brain was very familiar with it.  The fastest year, 2012 I made sure to set a specific pace on my GPS and heart rate monitor.

Goal: 0:29:00 min at 4:50 min/km – keep a fast past in the forest and be steady on the road.

Stage 3

Ah, the Grouse Grind! It will probably be about 20% slower than the best Grind time for the year.  The challenge is getting an appropriate number of ascents in due to the fact that it opens in late May or even one year it was June 12th! Opening day depends on how clear the trail is from the previous winter. Five climbs seem to be the right number for me. In 2010 my left calf cramped about three quarters they way up which seriously hampered stage 4.

Goal:  47:00 min, season opening Grind time of 40 minutes. Be light and quick on my feet.


Cresting over the top of the Grind doesn’t mean the end is near, just nearer! There is a little bit of rest as the trail winds past the maintenance yard before the last ascent. Many participants walk up the wide dirt road because of how steep it is and how tired they are. As other pass going the other way it is clear that the home stretch isn’t far away.

Going downhill  after this last climb safely, but fast is a challenge due the gravel.  In 2010 and 2011 it ended at the chalet, but in 2012 the course was changed to end somewhere differently. My preparations were foiled because I didn’t have a clue as to how much further I needed to go so I slowed down to conserve energy.

If the ability to run the course can be incorporated into the training plan do all stages. Run the stages a single sections and as bricks of multiple sections without completing the whole thing will help you gauge and adjust your training but also help you familiarize you with the route. Grouse Mountain runs weekly training sessions on Wednesday nights.

Goal: 0:22:00 min

Total:  1:54 hr 

Seek the Peak Training

Now time for a plan! I started training at the end of February. It started with building base distance and strength then eight weeks (now) out continue with resistance training two to three times per week, but transition to two sessions of power and move to more single leg exercises. The other days would remain for high aerobic or threshold runs on the course.

Strength goals are to be able to deadlift 1.5 times body weight and front squat 1 times body weight each for 5 repetitions. These targets are important so that my tendons and ligaments are able to support the running. Strength training has been proven to assist with improving running economy (so less energy is required). I am up to body weight with the deadlift and getting closer on the front squats. Long runs have progressed from easy 20-30 minutes to just over six miles with several types of intervals including high aerobic and threshold to build endurance and speed.  

The distances will continue to build up in 5-10% increments to 9.5 miles. Then more emphasis will be placed on going faster for longer. Some of the runs will also be on the course (hopefully the Grouse Grind too!).

Find out more about Seek the Peak.

Reliable information on strength training: Poliquin Group

Need more training guidance? Please contact me at Lifemoves

Are you training for Seek the Peak? Please share your thoughts.

Celebrating a Lifetime of Legacies

Water ripplesIn January Henry Polessky passed away in Vancouver. Henry was a visionary and leader within the Canadian fitness industry. He will be honored this month at the International Health Racquet and Sports Club Association conference. His legacy and impact was exemplified even further during the celebration of his life last weekend which coincided with the end of the Olympics.  The afternoon was capped by the city of Vancouver lighting the Olympic torch to honour his contributions.

I knew Henry founded Fitness World and grew it into thirteen fitness clubs in metro Vancouver, but his other legacies weren’t well known to me until people began to speak about their connections to him. Dr. Taunton, Chief Medical Officer of the 2010 Olympics described how they both started the Vancouver Sun Run over 20 years ago which each year has nearly 50,000 participants who run or walk 10km. Rick Hanson, Man in Motion spoke about Henry’s advocacy for spinal cord research. Wally Oppal former BC Attorney General recalled how Henry was always interested in you were doing. Others told stories of how their life’s path changed for the better because of Henry’s encouragement.

Henry built his dream team which became a fitness family. These people worked passionately beside him for over 25 years until Fitness World was sold in 2009. Henry’s impact on me began  in 2000 when I joined Fitness World as a Personal Trainer.

One way that Henry showed that he cared about his staff and clubs was through his periodic visits to each club during which he would greet people by name. Two other ways were through the recognition awards held at the annual Christmas parties and his presence at company wide meetings.

In 2007, I came up with the idea of converting unused space in North Vancouver to build a rehabilitation center.  Throughout the negotiations Henry supported my idea while asking some tough questions to make sure that it would thrive but also that I would be to differentiate it from the Personal Training department. After several months he and the other owners agreed to give Lifemoves a shot. It isn’t often that you can start a whole new business within one while being an employee for the previous. In September 2007 I made the transition from employee to business owner; his support and that of others is something I will be eternally grateful for.

He showed me that it is important to treat everyone fairly and like your own family. In November I was invited to a weekly brunch with the core Fitness World family. Even in his frailty and after not seeing each other for several years he still remembered my name.  His actions always demonstrated how important it is to conduct yourself ethically and integrity, something that I echo even tough situations. Henry is missed and will be fondly remembered by many people including myself.

The celebration of his life left me wondering what others might end up saying about me. What legacy do I leave? Remember impressions we leave people with happen on every single interaction we have, not just when we pass away.

Our legacies don’t have to be world wide to make changes. Do something small today to make someone smile; they may just do the same to another. What will your legacy be?

Build a Lasting, Powerful and Agile Business: Trim the Fat

big belly of fat man

In a recent post  Soft Tissue Seth Godin made a great analogy of how businesses are similar to humans but, didn’t properly distinguish between fat and muscle which are both soft tissues. When rehabilitation and medical professionals refer to soft tissue damage we are referring to anything that is not bone, but primarily fascia, nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Humans need a certain amount of fat to function properly and be healthy; the amount varies between men and women. Too much fat poses many health risks including diabetes, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease and early death. To little is also detrimental.

An organization that lets itself be overwhelmed by the small but insistent demands of too much soft tissue gets happy, then it gets fat, then it dies.  – Seth Godin


According to Harvard Health fat cells are metabolically active. Fat is a soft tissue that is also an excellent source of energy – ATP that well trained endurance athletes depend on to fuel themselves.

Fat Doesn’t Fly  – Dr. Mike Young, Strength and Conditioning Coach Vancouver Whitecaps; NSCA BC Provincial Symposium 2013


As Godin mentioned and Dr. Young in his presentation on training power athletes so eloquently eludes to too much fat will make a person or organization slow, sluggish, unable to respond quickly to imposed demands such as market shifts and could lead to an early death (bankruptcy).

So how can we build more muscle into a business to be more responsive while trimming the fat to a level where the business can outlast its competition?

Continue reading

Repairing the Boat to Keep More Treasure: Cash

Kids Bailing Water from a DinglyJune 5th, 2013 was a dark day and stormy day because unforseen waves crashed upon our deck. We were told to vacate our current premises. This news came without a warning shot over our bow, but it struck us right in our hull and threatened to sink my business. Also, six months earlier I used all cash reserves to close a second location that just wasn’t developing as planned. It took a lot of courage, self-reflection and discussions with friends, mentors and family to discover that I really didn’t want to abandon ship.

For various reasons including my only employee leaving the initial blow was 40% of revenue! Without cash I was taking on water fast and was having a great deal of difficulty making payments to our accounts payable. My only option was to stay strong in mind and keep renegotiating with my vendors by letting them know our challenges and that I knew it would turn around.They understood and were patient because they also respected my integrity.

Thankfully, we were able to quickly find an independent fitness studio to operate out of. The studio owner also showed me a 900 square foot open clinic space in the same building which I could lease for the treatment room and business growth. After a few tense weeks I was able navigate through the murky waters of the district’s business licence rules to land my own clinic space. Finally my own island! A month of zipping upstairs to renovate between clients and weekends labouring my private oasis was open to clients on August 1st, 2013.

There were times when my faith wavered, but I knew that my business was one worth keeping and rebuilding. I also knew I had most of the necessary skills to repair the ship. The skill missing to keep more of my treasure was cash management. After reading several books on cash flow management I stumbled across Cash Flow Management Mojo by Sandra Simmons.

Most of the information I found on cash flow management didn’t really explain how to build in cash reserves for growth, taxes and emergencies while others were too complicated or did not link budgets with sales goals while Sandra’s software and book do. Tired of bailing out water with a small bucket I started to attend a bi-weekly business mindset group where we set three levels of two-week heart centred profit goals – achievable, stretch and outrageous.

Learning cash flow management is much like learning a trade. With some trepidation and optimism I signed up for the cash flow management mojo software online. Many fitness and rehabilitation entrepreneurs are excellent practitioners but like myself also lack some key business skills. It took me six years to figure out how to manage with cash.

Who knows better how to manage cash than Warren Buffet? He buys businesses with cash on hand and believes that the majority of growth should be cash-based. Warren Buffet is also keen and trimming any excess costs. I took a look at our expenses to trim so of the fat. Something to do every 3-6 months so that costs don’t get go overboard. In two weeks our vendors were current a month before my goal. Two weeks later the cash was available to invest in an iPad, a tool to enhance our services that I had been eyeing since 2010!

Sleeping on a log

Each week ends with allocating cash to pay bills and for savings followed by the setting of income goals for the following week. The rest of the week my mind is solely focused on providing oustading service to our clients. Ah, now I can rest my weary head knowing that the ship is repaired and my island is safe.

How to Create a Healthy Workplace for Introverts and Extroverts

Stressed WomanSometimes there is so much noise around me that I feel like pulling out  my hair! There is on going trend towards an open office concept that is supposed to promote creativity and collaboration. Companies are tearing down their dingy old cubicles in favour of wide open spaces.  Is this really the right way to go? Have we gone too far from cubicles to the other extreme? Is this even healthy? A 2008 review suggests perhaps not.

A 2008 review article published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management found that 90% of studies looking at open-plan offices linked them to health problems such as stress and high blood pressure. – Oommen, V et. al,

I am an introvert who lives in an extrovert world. Quiet space to actually get work done and think clearly without being infected by interuptitis or loud obnoxious people with headphones blaring or who are nearly yelling at each other when they are actually sitting next to each other is precious. The introvert’s need for quiet space is not considered in the push towards open offices.

The first office Lifemoves was in was about five feet wide and twelve feet long without windows- not exactly inspiring.  We have now grown into a space with eight large windows and plenty of sunshine during the day.  Workplace wellness is very important to me. My current dilemma is how to create a successful multidisciplinary clinic in less than 900 square feet that caters to introverts and extroverts while maximizing its financial capacity.

Right now, I am alone and I love it. However, growing my business means sharing the space with more professionals and clients in the space when I might be trying to do administrative duties or just need a space to be quiet.  It is also imperative to develop a space where extroverted people feel comfortable as well.

Office layout shouldn’t be a compromise between private and public space, but one which offers both things to its employees whenever they need them.  – Alexi Marmot via BBC News

A recent BBC News article describing the development of office architecture over the last 100 years eludes the need for flexible spaces which gives people the ability to be an organic spaces where they can be alone or in groups as needed.  One solution to some of the distractions is broadcasting pink noise, which makes human voices less discernible.

First it is important to study the needs of the organization and how work gets done (ergonomics). One solution for small spaces is to set-up hubs for various activities as well a culture of deliberate times for collaboration or conversation and times for quiet.

Remember introverts are often their most creative and productive when they are alone.

It is very easy to be sitting next to someone, have an idea or agenda item pop-up in our head and then have the need to ask the person next to us. This adds to their stress by interrupting their workflow (do interrupt them if there is a fire or danger to their life).


 the Getting Things Done methodology of adding them to the agenda for that person then addressing it in your next scheduled meeting.

 Another idea is to use a red light green light system. Turn off all technology interruptions and place a red card in a visible place during times when you don’t want to be disturbed. Turn everything back on and use a green card when you are open to a conversation.  To block unwanted noise use noise cancelling headphones or add pink noise to make the voices others less discernible.

This idea came from a Canadian company with a new technology [wish I could remember the name, if you find it let me know] which places all calls and email alerts on hold with a bright red light; turn the system off and the light turns green.


  1. Buelow, Beth The Introvert Entrepreneur (thank you)
  2. Kramer, William. The Pleasures and Perils of an Open-plan Office. BBC World News Services, March 27, 2013.
  3. Oommen, Vinesh Should Health Service Managers Embrace Open Plan Work Environments? A ReviewAsia Pacific Journal of Health Management3(2), pp. 37-43, 2008

Discovering Cool New Technology: Coverting from HTML to WordPress

Computers from the 80sBeing exposed to computer technology at a very young age helps me comprehend what is possible as I put together a new website together for Lifemoves® in WordPress. The first computer I received as gift was an Apple II (I think).  My father owned his own software development company and I began to program at  during a summer a camp around the age of seven (?).  One of my summer jobs in the the late 1990’s was working for him coding in Visual Basic and developing MS Access Databases.

A personal summer project for me  in 1996 was coding a website in HTML that was unexpectedly noticed by employment recruiters in Kitchener, Ontario. I declined their offer for a job in IT to finish my Human Kinetics degree. Wow, that was one decision that if made differently would have drastically altered my life!

While CSS and Javascript have drastically changed the website development landscape, WordPress makes it a lot easier to manage content and for non techies to put together something decent. Unless there is need or desire to create detailed customizations there is not a lot of need to know these computer languages because there are many paid and free plugins that take care of this need. screen shot Home Page Style Sheet 2008

In 2008, I paid a lot of money for a great website that has since outlived its purpose. Quotes to convert it to WordPress so that it is also mobile friendly and easily updatable from $2,000 – $5,000. Cash I just don`t have for now. Instead of waiting months to save up for this project, I thought about doing it myself.

With limited funding, some previous website, coding and graphic design experience I decided to dive head first into WordPress.   Choosing a new host who makes it easy to ask for help as well as install WordPress on to my domain was first step. New site is being developed on a sub-folder of my domain and then it will be moved to the top level when complete. Self-hosting enables the owner to gain access to a lot more plugins as well as the files needed to code.

After consulting with a couple of graphic designers and someone in my target market I chose a paid theme with a number of different shortcodes (quick easy functions to do cool things) and page templates.  The plugins and widgets add even more tools to add individual flare,

Yes, it is going to take me longer to flip my site over to WordPress than if I hired someone, but during this time I will have learned a lot (with the help of Google and those who have traveled this path before me) and be able to customize more quickly on fly down the road.  It also keeps my long-term costs down because I have easy and quick control over my website to keep it freshly pressed.

All the final touches or anything that is stumping me to figure out will be handed over to the graphic and web developers. In less than a week the new site is almost complete; even my web and graphic designers like the changes to the theme.

It is really cool to see it take shape page by page, feature by feature. It feels much like the summer I assisted with framing the basement of a family. Stay tuned for the launch!

Read my first WordPress post: Trying this WordPress Thing

What is your experience with website development? Leave it to the pros or try it yourself?

Using Coaches as Guides To Achieve Greater Success

3 Hikers In SnowHave you ever found yourself stuck and not sure how to improve your business? Have you thought about getting help from a business coach?  Coaches are guides who’s outside perspectives help those they assist reach their goals and improve their skills. In essence they are facilitators. Coaches have been an important part of my life in athletics, business and life.  The first coaches I can remember were the parents, including my dad of Jackrabbits. Jackrabbits is a cross-country skiing program for kids aged 3 – 12 years old.

For those unfamiliar with Jackrabbits it is a program similar to scouts and girl guides, but on skis that takes place in the winter.  We even had badges for accomplishing different skills and milestones; mine are still tucked in a box for safe keeping.   Since then I have had many coaches for different purposes and at various stages of athletic and business development.

A fire lit inside of me in 2007 that was so strong that I knew it was time to make the transition from employee to business owner. Unsure of where to start I enlisted the help of two coaches.  With one we were focused on developing the business strategy and figuring out how to manage the re-branding of a sole proprietorship to a new corporation and the switch from employee to entrepreneur. The other guided me through the business plan creation and successful negotiations with the gym owners.

It was with their help that I navigated my way from working for a major private fitness gym as a Personal Trainer, to owning an independent business that operated as a strategic alliance within the same gym in less than five months.

Coaches provide a non-partisan sounding board for ideas,  help elucidate resolutions to problems, celebrate successes and keep you on track.  There is no doubt in my mind the start of Lifemoves was accelerated because the coaches provided the pilot light with their of years of business knowledge that perhaps, without coaching I would have found on my own but over a much longer period of time.

While competing in biathlon the importance  of having a diverse number of coaches became very important.  When I attended a Junior Canadian national biathlon summer camp the coaches there were able to pick-up things I needed to work on that my local coaches didn’t see. This was because they had their unique perspectives and knowledge base.

Over the years I have had a few more business coaches all with different areas of specialty, such as financial management or purpose and vision.  Each coach was sought to help find a solution to a major stumbling block in my business.

If private coaching seems difficult to afford try starting with group coaching or think of coaching as an investment for greater future earnings. Next week I will be attending a business coaching group for the first time with many other entrepreneurs.  This excites me because I will be with a group of like minded individuals all interested in accelerating their business and learning from each other as well as the coach.

What are your thoughts on business coaching? How have they helped you?

Overcoming a Fear of Financial Numbers

Fear of Equations

How many small business owners know their craft (in my case Kinesiology), but have challenges with finances? Looking back it has been nearly 20 years since I first developed a fear of numbers. The words “don’t take math again” have been etched into my memory since they were spoken by my grade 10 math teacher.   Perhaps this new fear of numbers why I initially stared a degree in English and History?  It was near the end of my first year of university that I discovered that I really wanted a degree in Kinesiology. The irony is that a Kinesiology degree has numerous courses that have numbers and computations as part of their curriculum.

Now as a business owner it is even more critical to be competent at understanding my financial numbers as well various key statistics that drive my business forward. This fear of numbers has previously prevented me from feeling confident enough to develop cash flow projections and budgets.    I would much rather write, go play outside. update my website, go to the movies than sit down and complete cash flow projections however, I know they are important pieces to being profitable and running and an agile business.

What I think was missing from my financial education was how to properly manage cash-flow. One effective way to overcome a fear is to dive deeper into by seeking more knowledge and combining it with practical application. I found a couple of books that helped (see below) and started to in grain some weekly habits.

In addition have been working on  switching the “I am not good with numbers” thought to something more positive such as “I am in the process of being competent at understanding and creating cash flow projections“.

A business exists to make money, no shame in that. For me I enjoy the independence, but I also want the business to support my lifestyle and family.  There a few habits I am in the process of implementing to help my business thrive and strength my financial numerical literacy:

  • Balance books weekly
  • Complete weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly cash-flow projections
  • Added line items in the projections to pay off debt, pay taxes and pay myself
  • Use the projections to what cash as to be on hand to make appropriate payments and know what sales have to be.
  • Use the projections versus actual to make strategic adjustments, increase sales or decrease expenses
  • Keeping all my receipts organized with Neat instead of in a shoe box!

It isn’t easy in the beginning, however the more frequently that these items are completed I gain more confidence in my financial management skills. This process also keeps me focused on creating a bright future instead of the berating myself for what has already happened.

Educational Resources

  1. Unleash Your Cash Flow Mojo: A Business Owners Guide to Predicting, Planning and Controlling Your Company’s Cash Flow - Sandra Simmons
  2. Managing Cash Flow: An Operational Focus – Rob Reider & Peter B. Heyler