May 29, 2018
Should you care about your company’s financial statement if you’re not in sales, finance, or another “money-related” role in the organization? For women who have their eyes on success, the answer is yes, Anna Samorukova told participants in a Women’s Leadership Center workshop, “Business and Financial Acumen: Empowering Women to Lead with Business Thinking,” held in May.
Samorukova, who is an adjunct faculty member at NYU School of Professional Studies, said that what you do at work and how you do it play a large part in your organization’s financial success or failure.
She taught workshop participants, many of whom did not have financial backgrounds, the basics of a financial statement, using “The Lemonade Stand Game” to help explain a statement’s various parts and how an action in one segment has a corresponding effect on some other segment. If you purchase supplies, for example, your cash total goes down while your expense balance goes up.
She said she had created this game so that she could teach finance in an easily understood and approachable manner and show women how to interpret their company’s data. For every segment of the simplified financial statement—for instance, expenses—she asked participants to think about what their own companies need to get goods or services to customers. While a lemonade stand might only need cups, lemons, ice, and sugar, a company must pay for operating expenses, salaries and benefits, insurance, and more, she explained.
Helping the participants understand a financial statement was just part of the workshop. A larger purpose was to help people in all positions develop business acumen and see the value they contribute to the company’s well-being, Samorukova said.
“The main lesson was to learn key business drivers and key financial concepts,” she said. Samorukova wants women to feel empowered when seeing how business decisions, risks, and opportunities impact business performance.
“Business thinking is about understanding how business works and thinking with financial concepts in mind that everything has an impact on financial performance,” she said. No matter the size of the business, there are four areas to consider: What do we sell? Who are our customers? What do we need to do/have in place to sell our products and services? Who are our suppliers?
“How do we balance the uncertainty of demand with what we need to have in place?” she said. “Demand is never guaranteed.… In a real business, you want to really understand what drives demand.”
All areas of a company, such as technology, sales, marketing, operations, HR/L&D, suppliers, and customers, have an impact on its sales and financial success, Samorukova said. Once employees see this, they grasp how day-to-day challenges and solutions impact the bottom line. “Ideas now have more importance,” she said.
“Once you understand how impactful your own role is on the organization’s financial results,” Samorukova said, “you have a more tangible understanding of how you can contribute.”