Tuesday, 28 February 2012
How I manage my paperwork...
I got a tweet this week asking about how creative business types such as ourselves manage their paperwork... Well it got me thinking about my processes and how they have improved over the last year, things that work and things that don't. So I thought I'd share a post about how I do my paperwork, I'm not saying the way I do things is right, but it might help you out if you are struggling to find a way out of your huge pile of papers.
As you all know, when it comes to running your own creative business, you have to be a 'jack-of-all-trades' and when you are just starting out, you probably can't afford to outsource a lot of tasks such as paperwork, accounts etc and you end up doing it yourself. For me this was a huge learning curve, there was so much to think about and at times I didn't know where to start. Luckily, I started very small with only one or two stockists so i was able to play about with my systems to see how they worked.
I created a file for my stockists with one plastic sleeve per stockist. In each sleeve I placed contact details and list of all work left with stockist or a copy of the invoices as well as contracts etc. When work sells I make a note on the invoice and place a sticker on the front saying 'awaiting payment'. When sales are paid for I then write 'paid' on the invoice.
Now, this can be a mine-field if you aren't organised, so one huge tip from me is to 'be very organised'. You don't want to leave it all to the end of the year and then have to tackle a box of receipts!! I have a box-file for all receipts and also a small A5 ledger book. I use one double page spread per month and I label the left page 'Money Out' and the right page 'Money In' and then list what I spend (placing the receipts into the box file and stapling each months receipts together). I also keep all of my business account statements in the box too. I'm sure there are loads of programs you can use and do this on the computer but, call me old-fashioned, I much prefer to write it all down.
I keep all of my prints in digital files on my computer but when it comes to running limited editions of prints you need to keep track of where you are up to. I still haven't mastered this 100% and I'm not completely happy with my system but it works so will have to do for now. I keep a list for each print, with the name and size and colour at the top of the page and then numerically record each edition of the print and where they have gone. SOR can make this a bit tricky as some prints do come back to you unsold so you have to be super-duper organised and record this.
I hope this wasn't too boring and was useful to you. As I said, this isn't the definitive guide to how to do your paperwork, but it might give you an idea of what works for me. There are probably loads better ways to do it, and if you have a system that works well for you, please do let us know