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Your Art is Your Business: Making Time for the Business to Keep Making Art

There are three things that work against artists making a living from making and selling their work: the (seemingly) fickle nature of people’s taste, the fickleness of the market, and (sometimes) the artists themselves.

Movies and television have fed us that trope for years: the temperamental artisté who isn’t good at “real life.” The writer who won’t use a computer. The painter who hates cell phones. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with liking typewriters or hating cell phones. But if you are counting on being discovered, lauded for your eccentricities, and left alone to create while other people handle your money for you, you might be waiting a really long time.

If you’re not interested in making a living with your art, that’s one thing. You working a day job and you make the time to create. But if you want to make a living with your art, you can’t afford embrace that faux artistic temperament and ignore the practicalities of running a business.

If you’re going to make a business of making art, you need to be able to approach it, in part, as a business. It helps to start doing that from the very beginning. That means creating a workable business plan.

What you need to know about creating a business plan

The Mission and Vision Statements

Every business plan, and every business, begins with mission and vision statements. Naturally you know why you’re an artist. You understand the drive it requires. But there’s something about putting it down in writing, codifying and clarifying it so that as you move forward, they are more than words on a screen. They are the foundation of your future success.

Goals

Yes, you want to create art and sell it. That’s the larger goal. Establishing some benchmark goals, however, will help you plan the steps you need to take in order to make that a reality. Where do you want to be in three months? Six months? Nine months? A year? You want your goals to be ambitious, but they should also be reasonable. You want to be able to march forward, but you also want to make sure that your goals aren’t so abstract that you grind to a halt when you hit a stumbling block. (And you will.)

Identify your customer

No, it’s not about making art to satisfy a customer. It’s about focusing your marketing and social media strategies to create the best possible outcome. The thing about being an artist is that while it may sometimes feel like no one notices what you do, it’s important to remember that there is an audience – and a customer – for everything. The hard part is knowing how to focus your marketing so that you’re working smarter, not harder.

 

That’s really the entire trick to giving the business enough time so that you can keep making art. Work smarter, not harder. It means more than just being comfortable wearing multiple hats and working on multiple levels. It means that, on some level, you thrive on it.

Starting and running your own business is always a risk, regardless of the kind of business it is. Turning your art into your business is a unique kind of risk, though, because you’re risking more than just the very important tangibles of time and money. You are also risking that intangible part of you that drives your art and makes you who you are.  The bravery required to put your passion on the line is necessary. But you need to protect that passion as much as you can.

However, if you forged ahead without a business plan, that doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and write one out. There’s never a wrong time to sit down and rethink how you’re doing things, and creating a business plan is a good way to re-evaluate and reorganize your business so you can focus on your art. There’s plenty of information out there to help you, too. Remember, part of working smarter, not harder means making use of available resources. Check out the Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Development Center, and SCORE a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses in your state.

Spring Cleaning For Your Finances

OK, now breathe! That’s it, take a deep breath in and slowly release it… tax day is over, spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner. LIFE IS GOOD!

That is until you take a good look at the mess around your computer… the strewn trash piles along with the old financial records and leftover coffee cups and who knows how long that box of chow mein noodles has been siting there… right?!

But remember, it’s SPRING and what better time than to get started on a bit of spring cleaning? I’m not just talking about cleaning up from your deadline with the IRS or cleaning out the closets and under your bed, I’m talking about your financial spring cleaning.

Now, don’t get me wrong, spring cleaning your house goes a long way in helping you spring clean your finances too. By organizing your home, you are much more likely to know what you need to buy and may prevent you from purchasing something that you don’t need, simply because you misplaced it. Listed below are a few other ways that you can spring clean your finances:

  • Check Your Credit Score – Is there any incorrect or misleading information about you that could hurt your score? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Organize and/or Shred Old Financial Documents – Clean up your files and shred any old or no longer needed information.
  • Re-balance and Diversify Your Investment and Retirement Accounts – How are your investments doing? Are you on tract with your retirement goals?
  • Review Your Insurance Coverage – has there been any life event changes? Do you need any additional coverage or is any coverage obsolete?
  • Review Your Expenses and shop for better rates – Can you pay less if you switching to a different company? Are you using what you paid for like that gym membership?
  • Set up Automatic Bill Pay – Late fees undermine your financial goals, therefore put regular payments on automatic bill pay so this doesn’t happen.
  • Save without Thinking – How is your emergency fund? Are you saving enough each month?
  • Revisit Your Budget – Once you have reviewed your finances ensure that the new numbers are worked into your budget.
  • Record Your Financial Passwords and Store Records in a Safe Place – Or better yet, use a trusted online password storage system and be sure to use a different password for each of your financial sites changing the password on a quarterly bases.

Knowing where you stand with your finances will better enable you to make wise and prudent money choices and as a result, you will be better prepared for your next tax deadline in 2017.

Holiday Spending: Forewarned is Forearmed

The Holidays are upon us as we gather around the table to give thanks, share that amazing Thanksgiving feast and fall into that tryptophan induced slumber.  Soon, we start to realize that our favorite day of the year is almost here!  No, not Christmas, it’s Black Friday and we all know what that means right?  We now get to go shopping and save all that money on those pre-Christmas sales!

Well, think again… not only do we NOT save money (saving money means not spending money) but our emotions usually go into overdrive and trick us into spending more and buying things that we wouldn’t normally buy at any other time of the year.  We use excuses like, “But it is Christmas, and my children really want this!” or “I know my kids have moved away so I’ll just treat myself to this little gift because, after all, I want a Holiday gift too!”

Even though we are all supposedly saving money,  Americans will be “saving” their way into a debt of around $800 within the next 30 days!  Ok, so now you’re thinking, “Bah Humbug!”  Well, that’s not true and I’m not trying to rain on your parade either.

What I am trying to do is get you to a place where you will think before you buy; to spend with a purpose… after all being forewarned is being forearmed!

How to spend, with purpose

Impulse shopping is the quickest way to spiral your way into a debt that you will be paying for in 2015. So, before you brave the malls or shop online do the following:

  1. Plan a budget and stick to it.
  2. Create a “gift list” of what you are planning to buy for each person
  3. Ask yourself this, “Is this a need or simply a want?”
  4. Do an online research to get the best deals on the items you need.
    • Find discount codes and save hundreds of dollars and it doesn’t take more than a minute. Simply go to RetailMeNot.com, SecretPrices.com, and FreeShipping.org to pull up all of the available discounts for your store. Use the discount code during the checkout process to get free shipping or to save 20% or more.
    • You can purchase discounted gift cards and the discounts are usually 5%-30% off the face value of the card. Check GiftCardRescue.com and GiftCards.com.

Finally, consider giving a charitable gift in someone’s name… not only will you be able to write it off at tax time and save money, you’ll be sharing the true meaning of the holidays with those you love.

Avoid Last Minute Scramble For Accurate Payroll Records

Life happens, however, payroll must go on. Are you ready for year end? Here is a helpful checklist to ensure you are ready for the W2 and 1099 reporting coming your way soon:

• Employee profiles: Are you up to date? Ask employees to verify their information.
• Employee documents: Avoid Fines. Important documents are Federal Forms W-4,  I-9, and state tax forms in your area. Find the Federal forms you need on the IRS website.
• Payroll Items: Look through items in your Payroll Item List and make sure all of them have the right tax tracking type.
• Bonuses, reimbursements, and deductions: Review Now. You only have until December 31st to make sure these amounts will appear on employees’ 2014 W-2 forms.

Do you hire 1099 Contractors?  Make sure to secure a W9 from all service/provider Vendors,  if not a Corporation, if you have paid them over $600.00 in a calendar year.  If they do not provide W9, you need to withhold taxes from their payment.

Questions? Simply contact us via our Contact Page

MJB’s Bookkeeping Solutions

July 2014 – Ideas on Success and Well-Being

 A Warm Welcome to July,  the “dog days of summer” month, the month of the USA’s Declaration of Independence, and also these fun celebrations:

  • National Ice Cream Month
  • National Blueberry Month
  • National Hot Dog Month
  • National Picnic Month
  • National Pickle Month
  • Parent’s Day – July 27, 2014

Inside this Issue of Money Matters Monthly you will read about…

  • The four types of people you should have in your network for a better career/business and life.
  • Quotes: It’s art, it’s the most important thing in the world, and the lack of it is evil. What is it?
  • The silly decision Sean Connery is probably regretting.
  • The back page: Sudoku
  • Funny Bone… “You should worry…”

July2014 MMM

Receive this newsletter monthly in your email by clicking here.  Enjoy, and feel free to forward this to a Colleague.

Best, 
Marla J. Blanchard
MJB’s Bookkeeping Solutions

Easy Accounting for Music Teachers… & Others?

We like to pass on good information to help our followers, and we came across an app for Music Teacher businesses you may like.  Admittedly, QuickBooks may be too overwhelming for some businesses.  We really love the ease of use.

Submit your best Slogan for MJB's Bookkeeping Solutions and you might be a Winner! Music Teachers Helper They offer a 20% off your first month with
Promo Code: D63935

I hope you will check it out and let Us know what you think.

Sincerely,

Marla J. Blanchard
MJBS Bookkeeping Solutions

 

June 2014 – Enjoying Summertime & Staying The Course

Greetings June Wanderers! Every Summer has a story. How will you spend yours?  Will it be a balance of enjoying the great outdoors, planning barbecues,  and allocating activities for keeping children busy?  Make it a safe and fun time, and budget some relaxing/reflective time as a solution for you to thrive.  Grab your Ice Tea or Lemonade and favorite lounging spot and profit!

Inside This Issue…

  •  Common #Savings Mistakes Even Made By Active Savers
  •  A “Quotes to Ponder” tribute to Maya Angelou
  •  You’ll never guess where a girl got lost on New Year 2005…and for how long!
  •  The back page: Sudoku and Funny Bone… “Watch and you’ll see…”

June2014 MMM

Sunny Wishes,
Marla J Blanchard
mjbsbookkeeping.com

May 2014 – Re-Group and Move Forward

Dear Friends,

These days, it seems like what we see on the News brings mixed messages.  Trust your Business Instinct,  and Plan for what is True for You.  Contact SCORE in your area for  Mentoring, and let MJB’s Bookeeping know how to assist you. Our Newsletter is linked below.

Inside This Issue…
Mind Games: Three Ways Our Brains Fool Us About Money
Jim Rohn: Since you’re not a tree…
You’ll never guess which two countries have been at war since WWI.
The back page: Sudoku and Funny Bone… “The Very First Case”

Lately, I have received SPAM emails, and Solicitating emails.  Please be advised, YOU will be blocked and reported.

May2014 MMM

Best,

Marla J Blanchard
mjbsbookkeeping.com