The Financial Archetype: What Kind of CEO Are You?

Do you find yourself hiding from your numbers?

Our assets as CEO of our business

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why so many of us get so tangled up around our finances, particularly as entrepreneurs. It’s a common situation, but it shows up in a myriad of ways, seemingly without rhyme or reason. It’s frustrating for many of us as we strive to take our businesses to the next level and find ourselves continually spiraling around our financial decisions – whether setting pricing, feeling confident in our spending decisions, or planning for future investments.

Why does all this angst show up again and again for smart, creative, motivated change-makers? As far as I can tell, there are a few reasons, including two basic approaches which I discuss in the following excerpt of my second book Zen Money Map: Charge Your Worth, Pay Yourself First, and Fund Your Wildest Dreams:

What kind of CEO are you?

In addition to recognizing our habits around generating income, it’s important to identify how we handle money as an entrepreneur. During my career working with small business owners, I’ve come to realize there are two types of entrepreneurs: those who use their numbers voraciously and those who “shoot from the hip,” making decisions based on their intuition. There are pros and cons to each approach. Obviously, as a numbers woman myself, I tend to believe that the more information you have at your fingertips, the better off you’ll be in the decision-making process. That being said, I’ve known plenty of successful entrepreneurs whose gut was spot on 98% of the time, as well.

Ideally, I’d love for you to have a balance of both, so your financial decision-making becomes a mix of data-driven and that hard-to-define “knowing” that many of the creative entrepreneurs I know have in spades. Since we’re looking for a middle path in our journey to Zen Money, this hybrid is the holy grail, in my opinion.

A lot of people deal with their money in a very intuitive way. They have a gut sense of what will work, how to set pricing strategies, and what is a manageable expense. I’m the same way, strange to say, but I always go back and double check the numbers to make sure I didn’t miss something in the moment. If you’re wired to leap before you look, double-checking your sixth sense against what your finances are actually telling you is a great idea. Alternately, if you find yourself being unable to make a decision without reams of data to support it, you might benefit from putting your gut to work a bit more.

So, I’d like you to take a moment and reflect on how you’ve made financial decisions up to this point. Have you tended to throw down the credit card and hope for the best? Or do you know to the penny whether you can afford a new training program or attend that event with the movers and shakers? How does your decision-making feel? If it’s uncertain and fear-based, then we have some work to do, and getting a little more intimate with the inner workings of your business finances is the path to changing that around. But don’t worry! We won’t throw your creative, intuitive, organic self out the window either. If relying on your instincts has brought you a level of success, then it would be foolish to attempt to strip that away entirely. Think of this as an add-on to your inherent assets exercise from the last chapter. What are your traits around monetary decisions as an entrepreneur and how can we build on them to your financial advantage?

When you’ve considered where you are today as a CEO, and where you might ultimately like to be, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just done some serious reflection work that many business owners never accomplish. Hopefully, it will begin to open the door to understanding your business money picture with greater clarity.

Taking it a step further

This is just a piece of your financial picture, of course. There are many habits and ingrained responses layered on top of our basic decision-making process with our money, both in and out of our businesses. To take it one level deeper, I would suggest each of us fits a certain financial archetype as entrepreneurs. Understanding that archetype – and how to put our innate tendencies to best use – is as critical to our financial success as figuring out how to market to our target audience and hit our sales goals month after month.

Our financial archetype is based on a variety of factors: how we make monetary decisions, how stressful we find day-to-day financial management, whether or not we think of ourselves as “good with numbers,” our general management style, and our risk tolerance, to name a few. And from my perspective, no one archetype is better than the other. Understanding our inherent tendencies can help us create a money management strategy that meets our needs in a way that feels fantastic…because instead of running contrary to our inherent financial style, our plan enhances it. We’re able to play up our strengths and downplay our weaknesses if we understand what’s driving us on a basic level when it comes to our finances.

What’s your financial archetype?

Are you wondering what the archetypes are and where you might land as a CEO?

In Zen Money Map, I describe five main types of business owners when it  comes to financial management. And often, which type you are has a parallel to your personal life as well. We can learn to shift and change, just as we do moving through the stages of business, but we all have tendencies when it comes to how we’d prefer to deal with our finances. The primary financial types are:

The Architect:

This entrepreneur is comfortable managing the daily record-keeping for her business and may even take care of her own taxes. She isn’t daunted by the ins and outs of bookkeeping; in fact, she may even enjoy the work. This type of entrepreneur is fully confident managing all the tasks for her financial house and may go a long time before feeling the need to hire additional help around her finances, to take over daily bookkeeping duties or for higher-level strategic support. She likely takes good care of her own personal finances and may manage her own investments without an adviser.

The Baker:

This type of entrepreneur knows what needs to happen generally and may have a bookkeeper she calls on once a month (or once a year) to create her financial reports, most likely for tax purposes but possibly also for management review and decision-making. She is comfortable making spending decisions and knows where her money stands but enjoys having someone she trusts providing additional assistance in her financial kitchen throughout the year. She may have an adviser to assist her in building her personal nest egg.

The Celebrity:

This entrepreneur knows that money management is not her zone of genius and delegates the day-to-day financial work as soon as possible for her business. She’s likely to work with a financial partner or CFO who can help her identify opportunities within her business as well as coordinate taxes and other reporting requirements. She likely appreciates working with personal financial advisers who understand the entrepreneurial mindset and builds her team to support her big vision early on.

The Dancer:

This entrepreneur wants to make a difference in the world but looking at her numbers leaves her feeling uncomfortable to say the least! She spends quite a bit of time avoiding her money management and consistently carries anxiety about her financial circumstances. She’s likely to continue dancing away from this part of her business until the discomfort becomes too much to take and she begins to shift into becoming one of the other archetypes. She usually doesn’t work with anyone in particular for her business or personal finances but may utilize someone for tax coordination (which is kept at arm’s length and only when necessary).

The Editor:

This final archetype is an “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur”, someone who knows exactly what needs to happen with her financial management. She’s taken care of it all in the past (and may previously have identified as the Architect) but is ready to delegate this piece of her business to a trusted advisor. She recognizes that to grow her business, she needs someone dedicated to her financial growth at her side moving forward. The Editor appreciates working with smart, qualified people who will get things done and help her achieve her big goals.

bottom line

The Bottom Line

While the financial flow between business, personal, and giving back is the same for these three types, each of them enjoys their Zen Money differently. These examples can help you consider how you want to manage your money going forward and potentially what kind of help you may enjoy as your grow your business.

Ready to Map Your Version of Zen Money?

Take our Zen Money Quiz, find your unique Financial Archetype and start building your business the Zen Money way!