As a creative business owner you likely want to spend the majority of your time doing what you love most—being creative! And there is nothing creative about some of those pesky business details like financials, marketing, or time.
Creating systems that you enjoy will help the pieces of your business that encourage growth that much easier. If you are like me the thought of excel sheets, cash legers, or press releases is such a turn off you simply don’t use them. Below I have outlined four areas to try new systems including ideas that have been fun and useful for my business.
Areas of your financials to consider organizing are profit in/profit out, your annual projection, and where you can grow your business. There are more, but this is a good starting place. I use the following tools for keeping my money on track:
- Outright: This is an online accounting program/website that when signed into can look at your accounts and give you an up to date record of your profit and loss for the year. It’s quite handy considering you don’t have to do anything but sign in!
- Projection Sheet: You can find these all over. I use one that calculates my fixed and expected costs for the year, my profit centers, and my proposed growth. Then I can see how much money I can put back into my business for growth.
- A Monthly Envelope: Every month I take a blank envelope and write the month at the top. I write out my fixed expenses for the whole month. Then with every sale I record a + amount and every expense I write a – amount and place the receipt in the envelope. Each month the goal is to be out of the negative as soon as possible.
- A Large Filing Cabinet: I keep record of everything! I file away receipts organized by type so that I can call on my records when needed and be prepared January 1st for tax season.
Marketing is rather daunting and its power doesn’t make it easy to approach. Try these tips for organizing your marketing for your entire year if you wanted:
- Seasonal Calendar: Write out the marketing or promotions you want to utilize based on the seasons and major holidays.
- Marketing Model: There are many, many ways to market your business. My personal favorites are the kinds that create connection to your business. I model out my marketing based on as many points of connection I can make. For example current or previous customers, referrals, local press about the business, press about me, joint ventures, seasonal promotions, new development promotion, and national press. Then I fill in each with different ideas.
I use similar systems for product development as I do for marketing. I consider the following when writing or planning our product for the year:
- Customer Requests
- Popular Products
- Seasonal Needs
- Holiday Needs
Another fun way to look at product scope is to visually create your dream line. Using sketches, photos, and words make your product vision board. You can lay everything out and then compile it within your seasonal calendar. This way you know when to market what, months in advance.
Time is of the essence and yet so fleeting too. Time management is very useful as it creates focus, awareness, and quality work. To keep my time in a no-stress zone I use these tools:
- iCal: This little tool allows me to manage out my year and in different colors! Knowing my products and marketing for the year I can break down tasks that need to be accomplished first. I start my week with an understanding of what I am tackling already. Then I batch my work into smallish time (90 minutes) to allow for flow.
- Stickies: I am a daydreamer, so if I don’t write down the distracting thoughts I can’t move on. Stickies is a desktop program and I let it collect my randomness until I am ready to tackle it, or file it away.
- Creative Time: I made this up, but my creative time is the time in my day I know I am my most creatively charged. This happens to be from when I wake up until about 10 AM. Knowing this I try and do my most challenging or useful work in that time. No emails and no phone calls. Just me, and my thoughts.
My Project Book (My #1 Favorite System)
My project book is my favorite tool. It’s a binder that is organized into goals, marketing, brand, product, press, joint ventures, events, and notes. Since I am a daydreaming I need something to capture my long-term imagination for my business. Ideas, contacts, upcoming thoughts, even five or ten year goals get filed away. Whether they are active projects or not they keep me moving forward while growing my business.
To put a system in place may take some time, and not all are going to be a great fit! Find that one sweet system that gives the rest of your creative business clarity.
Andrea Mansfield is the owner of Brand & Bloom where she guides creative women using clarity about their purpose and passion for a successful business.
Main image courtesy of gadl