Last time we talked about tasks. Did you remember to add a business meeting to your task list?
Yes, at least once a month, you should sit down and have a business meeting (usually with only yourself since you’re a solopreneur -solo-entrepreneur). This is a good time to look at your monthly financial statements – which we’ll get more in-depth with shortly when we talk about bookkeeping. For now, you can keep it simple.
What to do at your meeting? Look at how much money has come in and how much has gone out. Look at this for the month, for the year, and if have the records then compare it to the prior year. If you’re creating your business, you’ll see growth. Maybe not at a monthly level, but hopefully at an annual level. Here, the short term isn’t as important as the long term, though it’s still important to know where you’re at in a given moment.
You’ll see trends of where the money is coming in and where it’s going out. Armed with this information, you can decide what’s working and what isn’t. Maybe there’s an expense that’s a hole needing to be plugged. Maybe you need to look for a different option, downgrade that website package to a less expensive version since you aren’t using all the features anyway. Maybe an online store needs to be the free, basic version instead of the premium edition. Maybe one type of art sells better than another. Could you raise your prices on that item? Or maybe put more of a focus into producing that item.
“Woah, Dawn,” I hear you saying. “This is sounding so commercial. I don’t want my art to be like Walmart or only focused on the bottom line.” I’m not focusing on the bottom line, but rather overall. The point is to find ways to make your art sustainable. If you don’t make enough to keep creating your art, eventually all your resources will run dry and you’ll have to stop. Even if you fund your art with a “day job,” how much of a loss can you personally sustain before you have to call it quits on the art? If your art isn’t starting to pay for itself or pay you back, then you only have an art hobby. A career demands that you make money at it. That means lowering expenses and raising income. You are making a product to sell with the intent of making money. That’s commercial. If you’re really afraid of being commercial, chances are you have a deeper issue. Maybe it’s the bookkeeping end of it you fear. Or maybe fear of success emerges as the thought of wanting to have deeper meaning in your art and not be commercial. So, if you can’t see the logic behind this and it still makes your skin crawl with the thought of how art as a product sounds so crass, then look at the reasoning behind this. Why do you feel this way? Is there another issue that needs resolved?
So we’ve seen where the money is coming and going and we’ve thought about small tweaks we could make, now it’s time to make a plan. Have you been following through with all your tasks as you’ve scheduled them? Do you need to make adjustments here? Have you written all the articles for your newsletter? What still needs to be done? What do you have coming up? Shows to do? Orders to fill? Look at your goals. Are you on-track for these goals? Are these goals still inspiring you or do they need adjusted? What’s your next step for completing your goals? Figure out what you need to do over the next month and know how that will advance you in your career. It may not necessarily work out that way or it may work out better, but having an idea is better than just seeing what happens. When you step back and look at it, you’ll realize that this is where you create not only your career but your life. Make sure you’re creating what you want. It’ll help you focus. Your business meeting is your few minutes to really figure out where you are and where you’re going. It should leave you will a powerful feeling.
Next month, review what was on your agenda from last time. Did you complete those tasks? What do you still need to do? Sometimes I’ve found it helpful to actually review these tasks once a week to make sure I’m still on track. Sometimes the list has felt overwhelming. Sometimes I’ve realized that other things need to be completed too, such as a last minute application for a show. A client may want a rush on a commission piece. Allow for changes in your schedule. The best thing you can do is be flexible with the details, but consistent in tracking your business. Make that monthly business meeting with yourself the most important event you have. If something crops up as life has a tendency to do, reschedule for the next possible time. Don’t let it go for another month. If you let it slip, believe me you’ll have a harder time getting back to it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go schedule my October meeting with myself and get caught up on this week’s bookkeeping for that meeting. Until next time…