Why Female Entrepreneurs Need to Know Their Numbers - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

Why Female Entrepreneurs Need to Know Their Numbers

January 29, 2016

I’ve always been a gym rat. I mean, I started lifting weights when I was twelve, ran to burn off energy for fun in high school and eventually even became a certified personal trainer when I was in my twenties. I know a lot about nutrition and exercise and could mostly tell the b.s. from the truth.

Come to find out, though, THE truth isn’t MY truth. Meaning, I recently got very serious about how I am wired and found out that, quite frankly, I’ve been doing this fitness thing all wrong (for me) my entire adult life. 

I’ve never been a dieter. I’ve been an eat right and exercise person. The only problem is, though, what “average” advice in fairness works for the large majority does not apply to me AT ALL. If I consulted with most rookie fitness professionals, they would tell me to eat less calories and workout harder to lose weight. Unbeknownst to me, I was dieting. 

Who knew?

Good thing last year I finally decided to know MY numbers. 

Why was it so hard for me to maintain my weight? I was doing everything right for the most part. (OK, so I am a foodie and I love my wine, but I was still doing better than 85% of America!)

Come to find out I was thinking I was eating more calories than most of my female friends, so I was good. No dieting for me! Feed that muscle and my fast-paced life. However, I found out I was BARELY eating more than my resting metabolic rate (meaning the number of calories I would burn if I laid in bed all day). So once I…I don’t know…got out of bed to do anything, then burned 550-900 calories at the gym I was WAAAAY in a deficit. My body thought I was starving myself in a serious way all because I didn’t consider my own unique numbers.

Every. Single. Day.

For YEARS.

But, wait! There’s more!

Knowing I have tachycardia (meaning my heart rate at rest would freak you out it’s so naturally high), I thought I should check what *my* specific maximum and target heart rate should be. I know it couldn’t possibly be what the typical formula would indicate (220-your age to get your maximum heart rate, then calculate 55-85% of that to see what your aerobic range should be for safe exercise). 

How did I know the formula couldn’t possibly work for me? Well, because my heart while I’m sleeping reads in what the formula says is my “fat burning” cardio zone and I’m not out of breath when I wake up, so….

Anyway, I had a VO2Max test done. That’s right, I hooked up a bunch of stuff to me and breathed into a mask while the tester cranked up the old treadmill to see how high he could get my heart rate before I couldn’t take anymore. Then, they analyzed how my oxygen did whatever it does at different points during the test. It determined when I most effectively burn fat, when I tap into carbs and when I surpass my anaerobic threshold, which is a heart rate you should only cross into for about 4 minutes at a time when doing interval training.

Welllllllll….I’ve been working out beyond my anaerobic threshold pretty much the entire time I worked out…

FOR YEARS.

So to recap, following traditional fitness advice (eat less calories, workout harder) I ended up starving myself and basically taxing my body so hard that I’ve been a cortisol (fat hoarding hormone) producing MACHINE for my entire adult life.

Good times. 

So your’s truly has been trying to eat…get this…2,400 (yes, you read that right…TWENTY FOUR HUNDRED) calories a day since August. I haven’t gained ANY fat and my resting metabolic rate has increased. So no more fat, higher metabolism and I’m totally eating man portions. It’s all I do. Eat, eat, eat. (For the record, it is WAY harder to choke down 2,400 calories a day than it is to diet. #justsayin)

The thing is I have a LOT of muscle for a female, so I have to eat that much to keep that muscle and keep that metabolism cranking.

I recently had lunch with a friend and she was astonished about how much I ate in one setting. Even the waiter was like, “WOW!”

And when I workout I feel like I’m barely doing anything because I’m constantly backing off to control my heart rate. 

But since course correcting, my body is believing that I’m not starving it and I’m not telling my body I’m in panic mode every day. 

So now that I know MY NUMBERS, unique to MY BODY, I’ll be able to move towards my goals and make some progress.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s all fascinating, Amber, but what the hay does that have to do with my business?”

So glad you asked.

While conventional business is advice is a great place to start, you need to know YOUR NUMBERS for YOUR BUSINESS to adapt that wisdom.

If you have a boutique in a small suburban area you can’t necessarily apply the same principles that makes a boutique in a metro area successful. Likewise, the same type of businesses with different niches would probably take different paths.

So, while I needed to understand my resting metabolic rate, my body composition (how much of my body was lean mass versus fat), and my VO2 max to finally get to the right nutritional and exercise prescription for me, you have some numbers you should take a gander at, too:

Understand Your Demographics: 

What is the population of your community? What is the average age of the population? Average income? Average price paid for a home? These numbers will help you understand what types of products and services you should offer, as well as how to set your pricing. You could be dramatically undervaluing yourself for what the market could bear. Likewise, you could be offering products or services for the wrong age group and your advertising could be all wrong, to boot.

I always joke that I can tell the age of a graphic designer by the size of the font in a design. 🙂 But if you have a business in an area that is booming with retired Baby Boomers, a ten point font in a thin, san-serif isn’t going to work. And depending on Instagram to get your message out probably won’t be as effective as old school direct mail.

Understand Your Financials:

How do you make money? What are your reoccurring expenses to run your business? What product or service do you offer that nets you the highest profit? If you create something, what is your cost per unit? Meaning, after you buy all of your materials and *factor in your time*, how much have you invested in each piece. And yes…you have to factor in your time because if you scaled and had to have someone else make your widget, you would have to pay them for THEIR time, right???

Go back through your past three years and see what part of your business made the most money consistently. For example, if you own a spa, did you make the most money on your massages, your aesthetics, on hair or nails, etc…Knowing this helps you understand how to staff, what to market to acquire new customers, what to cross promote internally as an “upsale” to get those new customers to spend more money with you and sometimes you’ll learn what to stop offering because it’s costing you money or perhaps isn’t worth the time and energy to have it on your menu.

Understand Your People Numbers:

Wait, you have to know the numbers for your people? Why yes you do! How much are you paying each employee and what does that mean in terms of revenue generation? If you are paying them X and they sell Y, are they costing you or making you money at the end of the year? If they are in a supporting role (meaning they don’t help create revenue) numbers STILL matter. What is their absentee record? How many sick days, personal days, etc…do they take? What is that costing you? Rank your employees from the most productive to the least and that should give you a good picture of who deserves raises, additional professional development, mentorship or even progressive discipline.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, no matter what you read in Inc. Magazine or what your friend tells you about her business, if you don’t understand YOUR unique numbers it is going to be very hard to reach your business goals. In fact, it is hard to set goals at all without being clear on “where here is” so you can realistically set your next benchmark. 

While I have offered some good places to start in understanding your numbers, I really want you to kinda obsess over as many “unique to you” numbers you can come up with. It is important to do market research and have an understanding of how you fit in with your competition, but nothing matters more than getting extremely acquainted with your business and the digits that will make or break it.

So, what did I leave out? What numbers do you consider that other Bombshells should be looking at, too? Share in the comments!

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