Browsing the archives for the financial skills tag.

Building your financial acumen

Business Acumen, Geek 5, Outside Articles

In the last post, we talked about the importance of financial acumen to geeks progressing in their careers.  So now you’re thinking, I know I need it, but how do I get it?  And – how painful is it going to be?

OK, OK, learning about financial stuff might not be as exciting as some endeavors, but it is still important.

I found a great website that can help with some accounting and finance skills – and most of the site is free!  See – it is a great financial decision already!

The site is called accounting coach.com. The site is run by Harold Averkamp and he is dedicated to improving knowledge and skills related to accounting.  Containing a wealth of information, the site presents accounting concepts in easy to understand terminology and in bite-sized chunks.

The Accounting Topics section contains tutorials on concepts like Accounting Basics and Depreciation and Activity-Based Costing and Improving Profits.  If those topics don’t mean anything to you, then you desperately need these tutorials!

My favorite part of the site is the Test Yourself section.  It offers quizzes and crossword puzzles and word searches with financial themes. I failed the Basic Accounting quiz, so I obviously need to spend more time with the tutorials!

This is a great place to get started.  Once you master some basic concepts, you can seek out a mentor at your company who can help you apply the new concepts to your specific company.

Good luck on your path to financial enlightenment!

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Importance of financial acumen

Business Acumen, Geek 5

One of the Geek 5 risks is that geeks often lack basic business and financial skills.  In school and early career, geeks often focus so intensely on their area of expertise that general business concepts get neglected.  If you are interested in moving from a technical role to a more general leadership role, you need to get savvy about business.

 For Geeks, gaining financial acumen is important for three reasons:

  1. Important understanding – Financial skills are more than a ticket to success.  The skill is important for a reason. The foundation of any business is the finances of the company.  Financial acumen will expand your understanding of the costs and challenges of doing business in your industry.You’ll gain a better understanding of how outside economic forces impact your company and how your company’s decisions impact your bottom line.  In many cases, this also directly impacts your personal bonus and compensation!
  2. Critical skill – As a leader, you will be called upon to make important and probably costly decisions for your company.  You need to know how to assess the best course of action.  For example, think of an IT Leader who needs to decide between a costly, gold-standard software package and a lower cost, lesser known package.  What does she choose?  How does she compare costs and assess short and long-term value?  How do you expense the package or is it a capitol expenditure?
  3. Credibility with senior leaders – As you rise in your career, financial skills becomes a ticket to play.  They are expected from all leaders at a certain level.  You need to talk the same talk as other leaders at your level and above.  You don’t need to turn into a Finance guru or get an MBA, but you should be able to contribute intelligently to a financial conversation and decision.

In the next post, I’ll point you to a website that can help you build your financial acumen.

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Business Acumen: Become a Financial Whiz!

Business Acumen, Geek 5

One of the Geek 5 risks is about lacking business acumen.   By definition, geeks have deep expertise in their fields.  Learning and developing deep expertise usually requires laser-like focus.   Engineers focus on math, science and technology; doctors focus on medicine; computer programmers focus on coding and systems, etc. 

As recent research has shown, it is believed to take approximately 10000 hours of practice to get good at something.  Geeks focus their 10000 hours (give or take) on their specialty.   As a result, most geeks don’t learn general business and financial skills.   

There are a lot of available resources to help geeks learn general business skills.  We’ll explore some of them in this blog.  Some of the resources are free and some cost to use.  The one common theme will be that you can learn from them on your own while you are working.  You don’t need to quit work and get an MBA to find success in your career. 

You already have a technical expertise that sets you apart.  What you need is to have enough business and financial acumen to understand the broader picture at your company.  You also need to understand the business issues facing your senior leaders and be able to discuss the issues.  To be a leader, even in your specialty area, you need to take a broader view of the business and financials of your company.

One resource to explore is Harvard Business Review (HBR).  HBR has many terrific resources – including articles, books, blogs and more.  I use HBR resources in many leadership programs and in executive coaching.  Recently I received an email about some new e-learning offerings from HBR.  I have not taken these course, but I trust content from HBR.  Sometimes HBRs web-based materials are not slick and flashy, but the content is always superior.

These e-learning courses cost $70-$130 for an individual license.  The topics include:

So if you are looking for some good business or financial course, check these out!

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