How I Learned Not to Be Afraid of Numbers in Accounting

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Stephanie Nuesi

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Nuesi

The myth that accounting is all about numbers has traveled across generations. But is accounting really just numbers?

Welcome to a new space where we demystify some of the major myths in accounting. My name is Stephanie Nuesi, I am 24 years old, a proud Gen-Z, and a first-gen Latina. I am an accountant working in tech, a founder, and a content creator who loves helping businesses grow with innovation and creativity. As such, I used to be afraid of accounting because I believed it involved complex numbers and formulas. I quickly discovered that accounting was much more than that.

Here are a couple of techniques that helped me conquer my fear of numbers in accounting.

Change your mindset 

Stephanie Nuesi

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Nuesi

The first step to stop being afraid of numbers is to embrace them. Acknowledge that they exist, but also note that you don’t have to be an expert on numbers in order to be successful. Changing your mindset is crucial. I started listening to professors and accounting leaders on how they embraced the unknown and didn’t let the scary myths about accounting take away their passion for the career. This is what I did to build a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

A growth mindset is a learning mindset. A fixed mindset is a non-learning mindset. When you develop a growth mindset, you’re able to understand the obstacles you’re facing, develop strategies to learn about them and find ways to challenge them. Even if you fail, you take it as a learning opportunity and move on. That’s the mindset I developed to master numbers and data in accounting. 

Leveraging free resources to understand what is needed to be successful in accounting is also extremely helpful. I always recommend people to leverage the free resources for resume building, interview prep, and scholarship opportunities that platforms like Accounting+ offer.

Learn to Analyze Financial Statements

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Accounting is not just adding debits and credits. It’s not just putting numbers on a calculator. Accountants need to understand the health of an organization, and with that comes analyzing financial statements. 

When I first started my career in accounting, I was really afraid of numbers, math, or anything that required me to use technical knowledge (which I thought I didn’t have). Instead of living in fear, I decided to embrace the ambiguity and master the skill to the best of my ability. I started by learning about the core of accounting – financial statements. To prepare financial statements, you need an understanding of numbers. But much more than that, you need to know how each account affects the statements. This will be key in seeing the trend between the numbers and what makes up a company’s financial statement.

Learn How to Read Data

Stephanie Nuesi

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Nuesi

Working at a company sometimes requires you to deeply analyze data and create stories around it. This can be a very scary thought for people who don’t enjoy working with numbers, but I will show you what I did to become an expert in data analysis:

  • Became a master in Excel, SQL, and other data tools: I took several free courses on Excel, SQL and other data tools to understand how they work together and why they’re often used in accounting
  • Leveraged some of these tools to prepare reports and presentations summarizing my findings, which helped me identify what the numbers meant, and how they align with the main problem statements 

By following the tips mentioned above, I was able to let numbers be a stepping stone in the success of my work vs. a limiting obstacle and potential failure driving factor.

Familiarize Yourself with the Formulas that are Important in Accounting

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Some of the formulas/numbers that are important to know and master in accounting are those that relate to the major financial ratios: profitability, liquidity, return on equity, etc. Once you master these formulas and how they impact the company’s financial health, you will see that the numbers and data in accounting are much simpler than you think.

So, is accounting only numbers? Not at all. There are definitely mathematical and logical things to know, but it’s not the only factor needed to be successful in the career. If you follow the techniques mentioned above, you might start to see accounting differently.

If someone were to ask me if I would choose accounting as my career (even if it involves some technical expertise), I would tell them that I would choose it all over again. Accounting changed the way I look at businesses and success. And I can proudly say, it changed my life.For resources to enhance your accounting knowledge and expertise, visit Accounting+.

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