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Entrepreneurship and Math

Written by Scott Scheper for Gaebler Ventures

Some would-be entrepreneurs wonder if they need to be good at math to be a successful entrepreneur. We take a look at why an entrepreneur should know math concepts — at least on a basic level.

Do you need to be good at math to be a successful entrepreneur?
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For those individuals who dread the subject, the good news is that an inability to get high marks in school should not be a great cause of concern for a would-be entrepreneur.

Actually, students studying entrepreneurship in college typically have to take only one math course — business mathematics.

What is business math?

Business math includes reading and interpreting tables, charts and graphs; computing discounts and markups; solving problems related with percentage, ratio and proportion; determining unit costs, total costs, scaled costs for receipts; budgets; financing; credit; costs compared to cash; understanding income, payroll taxes and deductions; studying federal income tax annual reports; comparison of various methods of financial investments; understanding sales tax, utility tax, property tax, and miscellaneous taxes; comparisons of insurance programs; knowledge of costs of manufacturing, and analyzing business performance.

Do entrepreneurs need to be good at math?

One might contest that the days of paperwork and performing tedious manual calculations are long past, as ample market software compensates for what an individual may lack in basic skill.

In what situation then, does one require math knowledge?

The point in having a strong grasp of math concepts is not as essential for the actual computations as it is for the understanding of the big picture. These days, software does much of the actual math for you.

For example, Business PlanMaker Professional 4.0 is software that helps create professional business plans that are intended to ensure financial success.

An entrepreneur has to merely put in the appropriate numbers, and the software displays professional results. It helps to forecast project sales, expenses, and cash flow quickly and accurately. It also suggests financial projections with reports and charts; you don't have to make any calculations, create formulas, or design and build reports or graphs yourself.

You can obtain profit/loss statements; balance sheets; cash plans; sales forecasts; expense budgets; ratio analysis; break-even analysis; sales by category; and expenses by category by simply feeding the software the required numbers.

All this sounds very convenient. Nonetheless, you have to be able to interpret the results. In fact, efficiently feeding the numbers into the software also calls for accuracy. Instead of blindly depending on software, having mathematical knowledge to authenticate the results certainly works for your benefit.

Are entrepreneurs generally good at math?

An entrepreneur with average mathematical skills can manage his entrepreneurial work efficiently. Nonetheless, the importance of the subject in the world of business is such that most successful entrepreneurs are, by default, good at mathematics.

How useful is mathematics to entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs with a sound knowledge of math often perform better than their counterparts who are not proficient in the subject. Being able to accurately calculate and interpret figures allows you to analyze data, compute probabilities and statistics, understand investment systems, evaluate target consumers, and understand taxes.

How can an entrepreneur improve his proficiency level in math?

The key to success in math is focus. Time is of utmost importance to an entrepreneur, so developing math skills must be done in an efficient fashion. As important as it is, an entrepreneur cannot afford to waste time in revisiting high school math concepts.

So, focus on the most important areas of mathematics. Stick to those concepts most utilized in everyday enterprises, and attend college classes that specialize in teaching business math to entrepreneurs.

Scott Scheper is a venture finance enthusiast and serial entrepreneur hailing from Orange County, CA. Scott recently graduated from Chapman University where he was a Cheverton Fellow and graduated with honors in Finance, Management and Marketing.

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