For some business owners, numbers are absolutely and positively the last thing they want to confront.

For some business owners, numbers are absolutely and positively the last thing they want to confront.

Not exclusively, but more frequently, creative, artistic and sales-oriented individuals can't stand numbers, can't deal with details and couldn't care less about the finances until the checkbook runs dry. Please don't take offense. Not everyone fits the mold.

Some people keep writing checks, not knowing, or not caring, if there's money in the checkbook. Blank checks in the checkbook? They must be there for a reason, so money or not, let's use them. It doesn't work that way! There's a reason each bank statement contains a grid for balancing the checkbook, and all the computer accounting programs have a bank-reconciliation feature. It's amazing how many people don't open bank statements for months or years. On the other hand, there are people who prefer to deal with the numbers, can't draw more than a stick person, and couldn't sell salt in an ice storm if their lives depended on it. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the description above, do something to control the situation. Find a detail-oriented person — a bookkeeper or accountant — to counteract this problem. Learn enough about what they are doing, or should be doing, so you understand each process.

Remember, it's your business. You need the ability to track transactions through the process; to conduct your own audit. You need basic knowledge, even if you don't create invoices and balance the checkbook. Take a beginner's class in bookkeeping or QuickBooks. I cannot recommend this strongly enough: Take a tax preparation class or read a tax manual and spend an hour or two for several weeks on The IRS publishes online and printed forms and booklets such as "Tax Guide for Small Business" (Publication 334).

Most start-up and small businesses need to wear all the hats in the beginning. It's good training to develop basic skills before the business grows, putting you in a leadership/supervisory position. If you're completely right-brain or left-brain oriented, line up the proper support before the business gets in trouble.

Charlene Finerty owns Plans and Profits, primarily a business plan writing service. She also presents workshops, teaches business plan writing and cleans up unorganized offices and backlogs. For more information, go to, call 343-1515 or e-mail Her column appears Thursdays.