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Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

The Fortune Is In the Follow-up

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

follow-up

 

How good are you at follow-up? You know, that is where the money is.

I was talking with a few of my clients who were heading back from Quilt Market with lots of follow-up items. Some were clearly immediate, such as filling orders, and those get processed right away.

The problem for my clients was that they came back with all these notes that weren’t really money related or where they couldn’t see the clear money connection or where they couldn’t remember the conversation. Plus they felt overwhelmed getting back in gear. And, the follow-up is in question.

What I have found through the years is that when I pay attention to following up on a consistent and timely basis, it lets me build better relationships, which is really my goal, and that means adding to my business bottom line.

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Leverage to grow your creative business

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

 

You’ve probably heard people talk about leverage. And not the TV show of recent years. Leverage is about using a resource to its maximum advantage.

When I think of leverage in your business, I think of it as a triangle with Time, Money, and Knowledge + Talents + Passion as the three sides. When you start your business, you have all these elements in varying degrees. And likely some are limited.

         TIME (1)

As you grow your business, you begin to have more of each and can use each to its maximum advantage. And, you can leverage other people’s time, money and knowledge, too.

You invest in each of them because you want something back in your business. You have an expectation of a return on this investment.

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Surviving business storms

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Last week was such a storm-filled one that I found myself searching for rainbows each time the rain stopped. And, I found a real beauty. I started thinking about the fact that rainbows are dependent on the storm and started comparing that to our business life.

My first thought was that we all have storms in our business, whether that is feeling overwhelmed by our work or not being able to get done what’s on our list because a “crisis” or storm brews. You have times that you are not in control. You also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and you hopefully have rainbows: turning those to-dos into ta-das or developing better sales the next week. Is it possible to get to the rainbows without the heavy storms? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here are just a few ideas to consider.

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Do you have good financial habits?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Many artisan entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable with the money side of their businesses. It’s not uncommon. You want to spend your time creating not thinking about numbers. Of course, you are in business, and your goal has to be to make money. If you don’t make money, you won’t be able to run your business. You won’t be able to grow your business. You won’t be able to share your art beyond your family and close friends. And, the world will be less because you aren’t sharing your art with a wider circle of people.

Now is a great time to put some good habits in place on the financial side. If you take these steps, you’ll reap rewards both personally and financially.

Understand your money story

We all come to our business with a story about money. It will have good elements, and it will have not so good elements. For example, your story might be, “I’ve just never been good at handling money.” Or it might be, “Other people deserve this financial success more than I do.” Or, ” Money just isn’t important to me.”

Take some time and journal about the stories that you have about money. The stories came to you honestly. They were what you heard as a young child, what you saw on television or the movies, and what your friends or spouse believe and share.

Once you understand where your money story came from, you can ask yourself if it’s true and if it serves you. Just because you came to them honestly, doesn’t mean they are true. They might just be an opinion, and a false one at that.

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Out with the old. In with the new!

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

It is less than two weeks until the end of 2017. To me, this year just flew by. While this does not seem like a lot of time, especially with all the busy holiday activities, you can still take positive actions to end your year right and get a head start on 2018. Here are seven tips that I am taking to heart:

Don’t wait until Dec. 31 to check your financials.

Do you need to follow up on any late invoices if you want the income to be in 2017? Do you need to defer the income until 2018? Do you need to make any expenditures by year end? What tax consequences should you be aware of? A quick call or email to your accountant could make a difference, particularly as we are unsure of the new tax plan.

If you do not have a giving plan in place, consider starting one before the end of the year.

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Save Money With Tax Tips for Creatives

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

 

Yes, it’s tax time again. As a self-employed business owner, it’s important for you to have a handle on your business and know what is deductible and what isn’t.

Invariably when I talk about taxes with creative entrepreneurs, someone will tell me they have an accountant. “Terrific,” I say. “But what does she know about your business in particular?” You go to an accountant because she knows taxes. She can be very knowledgeable about small businesses, but she cannot know the nuances of every type of small business. She works with what you give her. That’s why it’s important for you to do your own research, understand tax strategies and keep track of deductions to which you are entitled. Here are nine tips for maximizing those deductions. To be sure that these apply in your particular instance, be sure to discuss with your accountant.

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Plug The Profit Leaks in Your Business

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

profit-leaks

Do you remember the lyrics of a childhood song, “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza”? I don’t know if kids still sing this today or not. In the 1950s and 1970s, a British comedic duo, Flanders and Swann, wrote a parody named “There’s a Hole in My Budget.” Well, for some of us that hole is all too real.

Last week I was working on a new webinar titled “5 Smart Ways to Make Money in Your Creative Arts Business Now.” While you definitely want to bring more money into your business, you may have holes in your business where money is just leaking out. Bringing in more cash does not negate what you are losing.

To get started, you will need to actually look at your numbers. Yes, I know that it is not as much fun as creating, but you can’t find the leaks otherwise.

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Do You Pay Yourself?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

 

do you pay yourself, salary

 

Recently I attended a conference where I had a chance to talk with a number of different business owners, not all in creative fields. One of the topics that came up was the dreaded “F” word — finances. In fact, we heard an entire presentation geared to helping us understand financial terms and creating a dashboard so that we could look at our key indicators. Remember, if you do not measure, you cannot make changes, and that is why we need to track through those indicators.

 

One of the questions from the group was about paying yourself. When should you pay yourself? Should you just reinvest all the money in the business and not take any out as a salary? Should you wait until the end of the year and then see if anything is left? Should you pay yourself first?

 

I know we always hear we should do this; yet, how many really do? I know I hear people say, “Wait, I will take extra out at the end of the month.” This is particularly true for those who are just starting their business and who are not relying on their business to support the household. The thought is to wait until you get some experience and cash flowing in.

 

What is the problem? You get to the end of the month, the next month starts, and you promise to do it then. And on, and on. Maybe once in a while you do take money out as a “salary.” Maybe at the end of the year, you look and decide to take some money out. And maybe you do not. So what is wrong with leaving all the money in your business checking account to build the business? I think it says you don’t value yourself or your business the way you should. If you stick with that approach, it is also easy to get to burnout. Again, I think it is related to not truly valuing yourself as a business person. It’s so easy to decide you don’t need to pay yourself.

 

What should you do? Set aside a certain amount each month to pay yourself. It does not matter how much. Perhaps you decide to pay yourself 10%. If you make $100, then you pay yourself $10; if you make $1,000; you pay yourself $100; if you make $10,000, you pay yourself, $1,000. It really does not matter if you pick 10% or $100. It just matters that you do.

 

Make it easy on yourself. Set up a savings account attached to your checking account and have the funds automatically transferred once a month. I think you will be surprised that you will always be able to pay yourself.

 

My question is, do you pay yourself first? How do you value yourself monetarily. Please share your thoughts below. I would love to hear them. You are also welcome to go to leave a comment on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

Whose Wallet Is It?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Shocked woman showing empty wallet

In the past couple of weeks I have had several different conversations that seemed to have a recurring theme — pricing and value.

 

One conversation was with someone creating a new online teaching program, and she was struggling with what to charge people. I thought her price was really low, and I asked why. She told me that she just knew not all her customers could afford to take the class and she really wanted everyone to have that opportunity. I asked how she knew that they could not afford the class, and she wasn’t able to answer that question. It was just her gut instinct. When we went further with the question, it was really that she would not have paid that amount. I asked her what she was doing living in someone else’s wallet and deciding how someone else spent her money. We talked about what her value was, and she went on to charge a higher price. And yes, her classes have filled with people who absolutely love what she has to offer.

 

There is something to be said, too, about people expecting value at a certain price. Would you expect the same value in an online class that cost $50 vs. an online class that cost $350? Would you put the same effort into the class?

 

If you are the instructor, what value do you place on yourself at each price point? And, it is not really all about delivering value on your end, it is about valuing what you do deliver.

 

Another conversation I had was with a neighbor who is struggling with when to leave her high-paying corporate job to fully commit to her creative arts business. She is a wonderful pet photographer. She keeps telling me that it is impossible for her to make what she is making in her day job. Maybe she won’t make her nice six-figure salary, at least right away, but I say it is an excuse that just holds her back. She is afraid to make that leap, and she is afraid that people won’t pay her. Yes, she is living in their wallets, too, feeling sorry for them, deciding how they will spend. And, she is stopping herself from the joy of making her own decisions about her business and her life.

 

And, then there’s Jan, who makes incredible mixed-media art quilts. Last month a couple was interested in one of her pieces, only they told Jan that they couldn’t afford to purchase it and asked her if she would negotiate on the price. Jan started questioning whether her work was overpriced and whether she should lower her price. Jan really wanted to make this sale. Again, Jan was living in someone else’s wallet not her own. While it’s fine to be empathetic to someone’s plight, I think Jan was being sympathetic and living in her potential customer’s wallet. Jan had a couple of options: saying no because she knew her value and waiting for the right buyer, or offering to work out a payment plan with the couple.

 

I believe that your ideal client is out there, the person who will pay you what you think your classes or your art is worth. Yes, you do have to be clear on who they are and where they hang out. And, you have to be super clear on your value. So find your value and stop living in someone else’s wallet.

 

– – – – – – – – – –
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

 

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

 

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

Valentine’s Dinner Thoughts

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

 

Did you enjoy your Valentine’s Day? My husband and I went to a lovely dinner at the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, Md. This is the oldest inn in the United States, dating back to 1710. It sits by the Tred Avon River and is very picturesque. Not quite as bustling as in the summer tourist season, and we were greeted with a snow storm as we left to remember the day.

As I was watching the staff handle the evening’s activities, I was reminded about how our businesses are like a restaurant.

When you own a successful restaurant, it’s divided into two areas: front of the house and back of the house. Front is what the public sees, i.e., the host/hostess, the waiters, the dining room, the meal. And back of the house is where the work takes place. If a restaurant business is to be successful, the owner has to manage the back of the house.

For creative artists, I see the front of the house as our completed art, whether that is displayed at a gallery or in a booth at Quilt Market or even on our website. That is the public face of our business.

Most of the real work in our business takes place back of the house, whether that’s our creating, managing our books, or marketing our business in a variety of forms. Restaurants have staff both in the front and the back of the house. So, too, our creative businesses have back-of-the-house help. We might have reps to market our business, virtual or non-virtual assistants to help with a myriad of tasks, bookkeepers to input the numbers into our financial software, etc. We don’t have to do that work that doesn’t fit our skill level or that seems too “left-brained” to us. It does, however, fall to us, the business owner, to look at the big picture. Part of that is looking at those numbers and becoming creative about how to grow our businesses.

When was the last time you took a good look at the back of the house activities, specifically your financials? How can you know where you are or what adjustments you need to make if you don’t? I know, so many artists say they aren’t interested in numbers; it’s such a left brain activity. I don’t buy that argument. Organizing your work space so you can create art is a so-called left brain activity; so is putting together that list of art supplies to order. You do those anyway because you want to create art.

You should have that same thought about your numbers. You want to create a profitable business – and you definitely use lots of right brain activity in that – knowing your numbers is part of the picture to get you there. And, if you don’t look at the whole picture, well, it’s like a half-finished quilt. You don’t have the complete story.

How much of your time do you spend front of the house vs back of the house? Leave a comment below or go over to our Facebook page to tell us.

 

 

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