Small Business

When business psychology and business logic collide, make them groove to the same profitable beat

Mariko O. Gordon, CFA
3 min readJan 31


We’re not taught that business is like physics, but it is.

Just as the laws of thermodynamics, motion, mass and energy help us understand how the world works, the laws of finance help us anticipate the results our business decisions will create.

Not that these laws can’t (or shouldn’t) be broken. The laws of finance can be defied in a way that the laws of gravity can’t.

Just saying business has an internal logic.

I coach many people with a love/hate relationship with their business, especially the financial bits, like what to charge or how much profit to make.

Their business is either a mysterious stranger or a withholding and disapproving authority figure torturing them.

If you feel that way about your business or practice, it’s a sign you have conflicting mental models about money and business.

Sometimes this conflict is inherited, sometimes it is learned.

But it can almost always be defused by learning business “physics,” which lets you grab the steering wheel and control the runaway bus.

If you don’t reconcile warring mental money models, you’re managing your business like a disco where everyone is wearing headphones and dancing to their own music. Nothing is synchronized. No one is moving to the same beat, and the dance floor is pure chaos with flashing lights.

I have a client, a coach, who struggles with pricing. (She’s OK with my sharing this story.) She’s still building her book of business, by giving free sessions and converting clients into paying customers.

Recently she felt queasy offering a 3-month package for $300. $50 a session felt outrageous. So she immediately offered 6 months for $500, a better deal. She also thought $500 bucks was way more credible than $300.

My client has a mental bucket labeled “session rate” that caused her discomfort — “Gah! How could I charge that much?” and another labeled “business income” that felt $300 was peanuts.

Offering a discount on a longer commitment makes business sense. But that wasn’t the case here, where the rate per session was too expensive, but the total of those sessions was embarrassing.



Mariko O. Gordon, CFA

Built $2.5B money mgmt biz from scratch. Coaching badass women to build & love their businesses, manage their finances, and make sure the thrill is never gone.