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Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

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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The Fortune Is In the Follow-up

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

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 had returned from Quilt Market with lots of follow-up items. Some were clearly immediate, such as filling orders, and those got 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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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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Leverage to grow your creative business

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

leverage

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, 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.

Leveraging Time

Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. You can’t create more or save it for another day. And, you have no clue how much time you actually have in the end. One of the keys to being able to leverage your time is to surround yourself with great people. Here are three ways to leverage time.

1. Learn to use other people’s time. This could be hiring people to lighten your load. It could be bartering tasks. It could be creating win-win opportunities with other partners.

2. Look for ways to serve more people at one time. You may already be doing this, only not thinking of it as leverage. If you teach classes, either online or offline, you are reaching more than one person at a time. If you create patterns, you create the pattern once and reach many people.

3. Create systems for tasks. When you have a task you do more than once, create a written procedure for it. This way someone else could do the task and you’ve gained the time. A great example of this is in the franchise business. The franchisor has created systems that are followed by all the franchisees. That’s why you can go into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and get the same good tasting fries.

Leveraging Money

For some of us the money side of the triangle is particularly short when we start our businesses. I like to say I started mine on a quilting thread! For others with corporate or other full-time jobs, money may not be the short side of the triangle, and you may be able to leverage money to a greater extent.  Here are three ways to leverage money.

1. Reinvest what you make in your business. It’s about growing the size of your business and you will need money to do that. If you reinvest what you make rather than spending it all, you will grow at a faster rate and leverage more.

2. Borrow from family and friends. Many small business owners, especially those starting out, may not be able to get a bank loan. Look to borrow from your family or perhaps your friends. If you do this, be sure to draw up some type of agreement so that they get their money back with interest. As your business grows, so do both of your investments.

3. Look outside your close personal network for crowdsourcing. You may be most familiar with Kickstarter. Other options include Indiegogo, Smallknot, Peoplefund.it. A google search will yield others.

Leveraging Knowledge

The amount of knowledge available today is more than any one of us could ever take in and understand fully. With technology today, there’s literally no end in sight to the amount of knowledge you need or can gain. Your specific talents and passions also play into this part of the leverage triangle. It’s important to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Look for courses to take and books to read. Here are three more ways to leverage knowledge.

1. Look for mentors to shortcut your learning. Study what they have done and model them. Look for ways you can work with them one-on-one.

2. Build a team. You can’t possibly know it all, and the easiest way to supplement your knowledge is with a team of advisors, affiliates, and employees who support you.

3. Harness the power of the Internet. This might be through search engines or programs that let your own knowledge go further.

How are you leveraging your time, money, and knowledge? Maybe you have some ideas you would like to share, if so, I would enjoy hearing them. Would you share them below or on our 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/

 

 

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.

 

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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/

 

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.

 

 

Book Review: Profit First

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

 

Profit First

 

Profit First
Mike Michalowicz
Obsidian Press; $24.95

 

This book was recommended to me and when I found it in the Kindle store for $2.99, I hit the 1-Click® button, downloaded and began reading. I am so glad I did. Most of us learned the basic formula Income – Expenses = Profit. Profit is what you have left. Mike teaches you Income – Profit = Expenses. Even if you know to pay yourself first and are doing it, this is more. You start with four types of accounts (Profit, Owner’s Pay, Taxes, Expenses) and divvy the money up in the order according to set percentages. What happens if you don’t have enough left for your expenses? It doesn’t mean take from the other accounts; it means you need to get rid of the expenses you cannot afford. One of the other suggestions Mike offers is to get  a handle on bill paying by doing that twice a month, on the 10th and 25th. The book includes an Instant Assessment so you can see where you stand, as well as suggested percentages to apply to the four accounts. Yes, some of it seems obvious, yet how many of us are really doing this? Definitely worth the read.

 

Look for this book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

 

Chasing Rainbows

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

rainbowLast 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 just across the street. 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. Times we are not in control. We also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and we 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:

  1. Chart your business activity, specifically your financials. All businesses have sales cycles, times when sales are up and times when sales are down. And, it is often a pattern. If you do not look at what is happening in your business on a regular basis, you can not expect to make adjustments and get to those rainbows. It is about creating a history so that you know that the first two weeks of September are always slow and you can develop a plan of action to combat that.
  1. Using that same history, you can predict when you will need to add some additional help. If history shows that you are always busy and overwhelmed during December, then plan ahead for help. Also give thought to whether the new hire should start at the beginning of the busy time, where she is thrown into the fire, or whether you need to be available for training, in which case a slower time might be better.
  1. Understand how you work. Are any of those storms because you are not paying specific attention to your needs? For example, do you allow interruptions during the times when you should be working in your brilliance? Or do you do all the “it only takes five minutes” items allowing a storm to brew rather than working on the important tasks, which will take longer?
  1. Do you have a Plan B or contingency plan for unexpected storms? Thinking ahead about the potential storms and having a plan will make a difference.
  1. If you find that the rainbows continue to elude you, spend time journaling about the situation or talk it out with a trusted advisor. If you do this, you will probably come to a better understanding and possibly a good solution.

Do you ever look for rainbows in your business? What is your tip to find more rainbows?

 

What’s Your Value?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Value - Business SignThis past Friday I gave the keynote at the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference. I had a great time connecting — and reconnecting — with so many talented artists. My talk was titled “Starving Artist No More: 7 Steps to a Profitable Creative Arts Career.”As the title suggests, I spent a lot of time talking about your mindset. One of my slides included a favorite quote from Mika Brezinski on knowing your value, which I will share below. From my experience working with creative entrepreneurs, I often find they struggle with determining a value for their work and then charging for it. Here are some tips for dealing with worth.

  1. Know exactly what you are charging. Many creative arts entrepreneurs often are challenged by what to charge for their services. Many tend to undercharge because they don’t know what to charge. They look at what others are charging and figure it must be right. Ever wonder how that person came up with her price? She probably did what you did: looked around at what others were charging and figured it was right. Take the time to go back and determine how long it takes you to accomplish your work. Consider what your expenses are – overhead, taxes, materials, etc. Then determine what you need to make on an hourly basis to meet your expenses and make a profit.
  2. Build confidence in your work and value. In Knowing Your Value Mika Brzezinski said, “Knowing your value means owning your successes. Owning your success means acknowledging your achievements. By acknowledging achievements you build confidence.” One way to do this is to have what I call a Weekly Success and Strategy Session. This is where you set aside time to review your accomplishments for the week and celebrate them. Then strategize for the week to come. Seeing what you accomplish does build your confidence. With increased confidence you will be better able to see your value and express it.
  3. Be visible and promote yourself. Once you see your accomplishments, don’t be shy about sharing them with everyone you know – and even those you don’t. Women, in particular, are not bold about this. Remember, if you don’t toot your own horn, who will? If you need ideas on promoting yourself, listen to our the call in the ICAP Library with Tara Reed on “How to be a Pres-Friendly Agent.”
  4. Look for a mentor. It can be useful to have someone else help you objectively look at what you have to offer and your value. It’s easy to stay in our own shell and others often see things we don’t.
  5. Step out in faith. Once you know and believe your value, don’t second-guess yourself. Own your value and move forward. There’s an African proverb – When you pray, move Your feet – that says it all.

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