Throughout my life, I never thought of myself as a numbers person. Yet, with my goal being to pursue consulting after I receive my Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the Ford School, I knew I wanted (and needed) to improve that “not a numbers person” attitude. So, I went out on a limb and was put on the Point of Sales (POS) team which focuses on using financial technology to optimize business analytics.
It has been a little less than two weeks on the job, and I can confidently say my knowledge of different POS systems has drastically increased. After doing countless hours of research and calling representatives of various POS systems to figure out prices, I now look at businesses in a new light. When I walk into a business, I find myself analyzing what type of financial technology the business is using and why they use that particular software. Moreover, every time I make a simple transaction online or with my physical card, I think about the transaction and per swipe fee. This thinking led me to analyze “menu” prices – big businesses pass off those financial service fees to the consumer by raising their prices. However, small businesses, especially the ones we have been working with, try to keep their prices low despite the high fees. Consequently, small business owners face the challenge of balancing the tension between being profitable and being accessible to the community they are determined to serve. And this balance is just one of the many challenges small business owners face that lead to burnout.
After speaking with Felicia Maxwell, founder of Fit4Life Michigan, and Lisa Ludwinski, owner of Sister Pie, I have learned that burnout is one main reason these businesses seek assistance. On top of being CEO of their own business, they are also the CFO, COO, CFO, as well as being full time moms. Owning the business is just one of many hats these women wear.
While these first few weeks have been lots of data collecting, the next steps will be to take this research and apply it to businesses to create cost analysis spreadsheets and find the most cost-effective POS system for each client. I have enjoyed being on this team because I have recognized that numbers tell their own story. As a policy student, we write essays to communicate potential solutions and initiatives. However, being on the POS team has taught me how numbers can communicate the same story in a different way. By showing clients a spreadsheet of numbers that demonstrate cost effective POS systems and ways it will help minimize their time manually entering information or tracking inventory, a solution is demonstrated in a new way. Hopefully, with our recommendations and implementation, the burnout, emotional, and physical taxation we see small business owners face will hopefully decrease, and they can continue to foster that passion while also profiting off of it. I hope to use these next few weeks to continue strengthening my “numbers” attitude so that they can tell their own story.