“Ego in business is toxic”. It’s a piece of advice that I received from the CEO I used to work for after I had told him I was going to start my own business. It’s something that I have always held on to.

Those of us who start businesses have to have a level of ego and self-confidence. That’s fine, to a point. But what my old CEO was telling me was to not let my ego get in the way of doing the right thing and letting my personal ambitions and requirements get in the way of doing what was best for the business.

I’ve always held on to that advice. Mostly I’ve been able to follow it. There have been times where I have let my need to “look good” get in the way. And generally it has been those times when the business has suffered in the longer term.

In the context of the financials we have to be really careful not to tell ourselves stories. The numbers tell a story and we have to be prepared to listen to what they are telling us and respond appropriately. You can only ignore what the numbers are telling you for so long. If, however, you can track the trends on the key business indicators you can see when a problem is brewing and take the necessary steps to address them.

But if you let your ego get in the way and operate in a self serving way prepare to be punished. Take the medicine, put your ego aside, and do what needs to be done. The numbers don’t lie.