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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Business Chat - running your office

Last week we talked about the importance of keeping all receipts AND entering them into some sort of spreadsheet or system. If you do this on a regular basis it’s really not a big deal and can save you HUGE amounts of both time and money. So why do so few businesses do this? Why is the blogosphere full of crafters moaning about how far behind they are?

Why? Because they don’t run their office properly. This is especially true for part-time businesses. So many part time people don’t really think of themselves as a business and so they fail to run an office. Even if you only sell at one craft show a year, have a handful of online sales or just sell to friends you are running a business. As soon as you have sold a single piece of jewelry you are legally running a business. So since you’re running a business why not make it a successful one? If you don’t take your business seriously no one else will either.

Having a successful business means that you need to run your office properly. It’s not the most fun you’ll ever have and sometimes it’s downright boring. Imagine that your business is really large and you have an employee. You’d make that employee do the office work on a regular basis wouldn’t you. So put on your employee hat and do the work. (Hey crafters, why not make an actual hat to wear? Something sparkly?)

Running your office is much easier if you have set office hours. Decide when you’ll take care of this and schedule it in. Even an hour a week on a regular basis will make your life much easier. When you’re doing office work turn off other distractions. This is not the time to facebook or tweet, nor to blog or send personal emails. Tasks that should be done include:

  • update your income sheet (assuming you’ve sold something)
  • update your expenses (you will spend money EVERY week on your business)
  • manage any outstanding bills
  • manage any outstanding accounts receivables
  • check for upcoming deadlines (craft show application?)
  • take care of any correspondence
  • balance your cheque book, bank accounts, credit card statement

Whenever you sit down in your office make use of your time. If you have allocated one hour a week for office work and your paperwork only took five minutes, then use the rest of the time to brainstorm ideas or make plans. Do some internet research and check out some craft shows. Find cheaper suppliers. Check out online sales sites such as Artfire or Etsy. Design a new website and research hosting plans. Jot down some notes for your marketing strategy. Work on your business plan. Play with your income statement, what would happen to your bottom line if you added a craft show? Check out possible stores to sell at.

This is the time to work ON your business. A well-run office will take care of itself and you won’t end up in huge mental stress when faced with a pile of receipts and no idea where you stand. That leaves more mental energy for the fun stuff, like making, which is after all the point of all of this isn’t it?

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