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Why Artists are Good at Business

Magnified Dollar
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brooks Elliott

Successful creative workers make something and then relentlessly pursue ways to improve. To make progress as an artist in any field you must be able to critically assess your own work.

These same skills apply to improving your creative business. It’s not scary; you do it all the time. Let’s use some examples to break it down and show how these ideas apply to your business. Continue reading Why Artists are Good at Business

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Free for All: The Customer Love Challenge

Sweet Little Bird
Creative Commons License photo credit: geishaboy500

Well, that sounds a little pervy doesn’t it? It’s really not; let me explain.

LaVonne Ellis, who is The Complete Flake (no really, she calls herself that), took a leap in November of last year and hosted the very first ever customer love challenge in which participants were challenged to lavish time and attention and LOVE on their customers for 28 days with no strings attached. The last two days were left for asking for something back.

LaVonne must have gotten more than she bargained for because she’s hosting it again this November with help and a dedicated website.

The Love in Action

I want you to ask those questions about your business management and accounting that you’ve been putting off, don’t know who to ask or aren’t quite sure what to ask. Ask me and I’ll give you an answer – for free this month.

Like This:

You can ask something like “Am I charging enough for the sparkly fizzle doodle I make?” Send along as much information as you have (it’s all confidential – I promise) on your current price per fizzle, the cost of materials to make it and the time it takes.  I’ll figure a bit and Poof, an answer!

Or, say you don’t quite have all that on hand and the question is more like “I’m not really sure how much it costs to make my fabulous sticky snoodles, can you help me figure that out?” Sure, just include a listing (nothing fancy) of the amounts you’ve spent for materials and supplies, how long it takes to make a snoodle and how many you’ve made over the last few months. I’ll take a look at that pile of information and Presto, an answer!

Maybe you’ve got questions like “My interlocking ingerrands are selling well but I’m not making as much as I thought. Can you help?” Yes, if you tell me some basic figures for sales, expenses and how much it costs to make an ingerrand (a standard profit and loss statement, that would do it too). I’ll analyze your numbers and Voila, an answer!

But I don’t know enough to ask!

Don’t think you have to know the question. Just ask what you think is the right question. This is all strictly confidential – no one will see and I’ll help you get to the question you really want.

Don’t think you have to have scads of information to back up a question either. Just send what you have. You’d be amazed (maybe even a little frightened) by how much I can tell from a few numbers and I’ll ask if I need more.

Details,  Details

You may have noticed that these examples are all about management and accounting. That’s because most tax matters are best left to your local tax experts. Each taxing jurisdiction has its own fiendishly complex rules and you’re better off with someone who can hack through that particular jungle. General questions are fine though.

Oh, there’s no limit on the number of questions. Please, send one at a time. I’ll work through them in the order they come in. Some may take longer than others with more details or longer research and analysis.

So, Go Ahead, Send ‘Em In!

Click Here to send a question – or just to say hi, I’d like that too!

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What do Zombies and Cash Flow Have in Common?

construction sign
Creative Commons License photo credit: underbiteman

Nothing, really, but I wrote this post and it was dull, dull, dull; correct and all that, but excruciatingly dull. So I decided to spice it up with … Zombies! You were thinking I was going to say sex? I’m not that interesting.

Editing Note: Zombie parts are grafted onto the original lifeless post for an authentic zombie experience.

Last time, we talked about the basics of cash flow and I gave you a quick test to tell how you’re doing. I asked you to take a minute from fighting off the zombie horde outside your fortified building to get your last six months (or as many as you have) bank statements and a piece of paper. If there’s no paper, just write on the walls. It’s not going to matter anyway once you’re a zombie too. Write down the ending balance for each month, in order.

Did you do it? Is the balance getting smaller or larger? Arguably, you won’t care as they eat your brains, but still, nice to know. (Zombie trivia: They don’t exclusively eat brains and will feast on any living flesh available.)

This is a rough – very rough – indicator of the health of your business. That is, unless it’s become a zombie business – a little known side effect of general zombie infection where companies continue to shamble along well past their expiration date.

What we’re doing is an overview and doesn’t substitute for a proper analysis but it will help point you in the right direction. For some people it may be all you need.

If not, let me know and I’ll help you get going with it.  Sorry, but I can’t help you survive a zombie apocalypse. You’ll need more stuff for that like The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead*,supplies and luck – really huge amounts of luck.

Unusual Expenses

If your cash is stable for most months and then dips suddenly, that usually means you paid unusual or infrequent expenses that month. Maybe you got a fantastic deal on supplies and bought six months worth of paper or your business license and insurance were all due in the same month. Perhaps you stocked up on survival supplies and paid a pretty penny for a sweet top of the line zombie preparedness system.

If the balance goes up one month and down the next, it’s more likely something was paid twice in one month and not in the next which might indicate you’re turning into a zombie yourself. But, try not to think about that too much, if you can still think.

Unusual Sales

Cash balances going up suddenly are often a sign of extra sales like you’d have from a show or large order. The flip side of that is a sudden dip in one month could be a drop in regular sales like you’d see if you took a few days off or some outside event, like a hurricane, a blizzard or an invasion of shuffling moaning zombies, killed your sales.

Escalating Expenses

More seriously, a downward trending balance may be due to expenses rising without corresponding sales increases. This happens when your materials and supplies cost more, overhead costs have crept up or maybe you’re buying too many lattes on the company till.

Dwindling Sales

The most serious cause of a steady fall in cash is declining sales. It’s the hardest source of cash to influence and has the longest lead time to change. If a zombie infestation is turning all your customers into staggering flesh eating creatures that don’t have the mental power to buy anything, it’s pretty hard to reverse that trend.

Now what?

Now that you’ve looked at your cash balance and given some thought to why it is what it is, the next step is to do something about it other than stumble around the place looking for snacks. We’ll talk more about that soon, when I’m feeling better. I think domrhinh is etonh … Errrrrhhhhh aaghhaaa …

What have you found out about your business so far and how do you feel about it? Let me know in a note or the comments, your thoughts are valuable to me. If you liked the zombies – let me know! If you thought the zombies were stupid – let me know!

If you’re looking at your numbers and getting a headache, let me help. I can bring focus and clarity to the jumble of figures and give you real next steps to take. I specialize in reassurance. In a calm non-zombie like way.

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