Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Organized business for artists

I have been asked about this several times by other artists and that is my cue to write a post on the subject.
Running a tight ship in terms of paperwork and numbers is important to me as a businessperson who happens to be an artist. Artists have a stereotypical reputation for being flaky and disorganized. Let me tell you it is not cute, quirky or interesting to be that artist. It is a mess, both literally and figuratively.
This is a wordy post but I hope it helps some of you that are just starting out.
Here are some of the very simple things I use to stay on top of my business.

This is a screenshot of a sheet that I print out and add up every month. I do not want a program that will do it for me. I am a visual person (duh) and seeing everything in this "big picture" way makes the most sense to me.
In the two left columns I simply write the sale amount or the amount I receive from a gallery. I then write the amount of shipping ( if applicable) in the "shipping in/out column paid by the customer and the amount it actually cost. Let's say they paid $25 and it cost me $21.53 actually. Then I am on track because the cost of packing supplies is in another column.
Each time I purchase shipping supplies, paint, wood for crates etc. I save the receipt and add it to the supply column. This is a negative column and is subtracted from the gross sales at the end.
There are other columns that are part of the cost of doing business and are subtracted. The cost of webhosting and fees from Etsy and Paypal transactions are added in the appropriate columns as would any fee for entering a juried show and other miscellaneous costs related to your business.
Make sense?
Each month I pull out my sales sheets and receipts and enter them all in. Once each column is added up I know my total sales for the month. I also know how much I owe my state for sales tax that I pay quarterly. I add up all of the expenses and subtract it from those sales and I have a net profit. Easy. It is great to know how much you are selling and more importantly how much you are keeping and owe on tax day.

I also have a monthly binder that has folders and pockets for different things. The very front is for those receipts and sales. I also have a place for my commission contracts and contracts with galleries. There is another that holds all of the spreadsheets and SKUs for Serena and Lily. Each month I empty that front section, add up my numbers and place it all in a huge binder that is sectioned by month with this sheet right on top so I can refer to any month easily.
There are other ways to go about doing this. My sister in-law insisted that I get a file box but I know that I'd just stack everything on top and never organize it, so my binders work best for me.
I hope this helps. It took me many months to figure this out and was stressful when I did not know what to do with my sales numbers.

So tell me, business people how do you stay organized... or do you?


Kristen @ Pursuing Vintage said...

I hate the paperwork that comes with being a business owner! Ughghhghghghhh. Math was never my strongest subject!
I also use a spreadsheet - I found programs don't work for me, either.

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