The Creative Business MUST be run like a Business.
There's an analogy I like to use when I talk to business partners and prospective employees.
Goes like this;
"Can you make a better burger than McDonalds?"
Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE answers "Yes, Of Course".
"How come McDonalds sells billions of mediocre burgers and gourmet burgers, or even yours will never meet those sales numbers?"
Typical answers range from "Evil Corporations" to "Illuminati" and the honest "I Dunno".
The answer is pretty simple;
Strong business management.
Being creative, working in the creative field, or trying to run a business doing creative services is a huge juggling act between management and freedom to create.
Let's be honest. Everything around us has been touched by an artist at one point. From the car you drive, to the lamp post outside, to warning labels, children toys, to your adult toys, at one point a designer, painter, art director, animator, writer, whatever, touched that product. We know art and design is part of the language, the value, of most of our products, if not all.
During all that creative design though was a strong, and moving set of guidelines and processes which enabled Ariel the illustrator to create cute custom greeting cards sold in Kensington Market for $12.99 a card. Whole businesses exist to supply her with the paper, the ink, the lights which she works under, the water going in to her pipes.
So why, why why are artists so adverse to business management, even avoiding basics like bookkeeping?
Is it unsexy? Is it scary? Is it overwhelming? Is it all the above? Laziness?
Whatever the reason, we can not ignore the very importance of proper business structure.
As an independent operator, your job is to manage your paper. Manage your taxes, receipts, invoices, payables, HST remittance, CPP, insurance, and on and on and on.
Even marketing is a frightening prospect. How do I market myself? There are a lot of resources on line to help with all of this, and I encourage everyone to use them.
I will be writing a few posts specifically on how to manage your revenue, budgets, marketing and all the other top level topics I cover here in future blogs. So, don't worry, you'll be getting some help.
Speaking of help, here's some suggestions to make your life easier and keep the CRA off your back.
There are some really complicated and advanced pieces of software out there meant specifically for the film and TV production world. They are expensive and very rigid and don't always offer the flexibility a freelancer might need when running their small business.
Everything I suggest is about as easy as it comes and I recommend you start using them to help you manage your business.
For invoicing and basic book keeping, I personally use Freshbooks. I used to manually make invoices and clunky spreadsheets to manage my expenses, and sometimes mistakes happened. With Freshbooks, I can track expenses, and manage my invoices. I can even use their online pay portals and have clients pay with credit cards or even paypal.
Google Docs is fantastic for syncing shared docs for managing scripts, breakdowns and other documents.
Google Calendar for keeping your crew on time and up to date with what you're doing.
I'm starting to experiment with online producer portals, which is cloud based software designed to manage projects from inception to completion.
If you have any suggestions or want to share how you manage your business, please share in the comments section!