"We all need to be financially literate, whether we're artists or entrepreneurs."
I started a digital agency with two partners in 2004. We ran it for four years. When the recession hit in 2007-08, we quickly discovered we hadn't made any kind of financial plans for weathering a crisis. But I discovered a deeper failure: I was terrible with money. Not irresponsible, not a wild spender, just completely unequal to the task of reconciling revenue to costs, or planning ahead. It affected me personally, but also the business.
My initial solution was born of necessity: I left my company and got a job at a much larger, much more established media company where my job was limited to technology. There were hundreds of other people responsible for the business and financial operations. This was a huge load off for me, not least because having a regular paycheck enabled me to get a grip on my personal finance in a way I'd never been able to before.
We all have to be financially literate, whether we're artists or entrepreneurs. But that doesn't mean we need to make a career of it! Once I focused my career away from what I was bad at—building a business—and towards what I was good at—building and running technical teams—I was finally able to develop basic personal financial literacy, which has made me a better partner, and parent, and a happier person.
Matt, CTO of DoSomething.org [Brooklyn, New York]