This is a guest post from Yu-Fen Chang-Pett, a business financial consultant I highly recommend for sorting out all the scary money stuff in your business. Yu-Fen has offered to answer any questions you have for 10 days in the comments section. So feel free to ask her whatever’s on your mind, even if you think it’s tough or too specific! – Laura
I ran across Leonie Dawson last week. I was immediately drawn to her because of something she wrote in her “Biz & Blogging” workbook. In it, she tells a story about how a few years ago, she stumbled upon what she calls her “One Hundred Thousand Dollar” idea because of a book she read called One Minute Millionaire. Though she admits she only read half the book, it did plant a question in her mind: what would be her One Million Dollar Idea?
To answer this question, one of the first things Leonie tried was a “profit clarity” exercise, which helped her to lay out a variety of different models that might enable her business to reach $100,000 a year in profits. Today, after just three years, she now owns a company that makes half a million dollars a year!
Recently, I launched a private financial mentoring program called “The Path to Profitability” to teach start-ups and solopreneurs how to organize their business finances and create a profitable revenue model with a clear vision.
Whenever I see entrepreneurs who don’t look at their business finances seriously, I get nervous. There are so many risks you face if you let the financial issues slip out of your hands. Here are three examples:
1. If you don’t have a financial system to track your revenue and expenses, you won’t likely have a clue how to pay your quarterly and annual taxes – BIG mistake.
2. If you also don’t know about your net profit and cash flow, you’re essentially running your business in the dark, and aren’t going to get too far. Without a profitable model as a map to run your business, how do you expect to increase profitability?
3. Having detailed, organized financial statements is a crucial requirement if you ever want to ask for a business loan, or look for partners to expand your business.
The truth is, understanding your business finances thoroughly will help you increase your profitability dramatically.
I understand that for many entrepreneurs who don’t have a finance background, it can be difficult and frustrating to try to navigate through the financial side of your business. But you really need to get a grip on the numbers if you want to make a profit. What’s an entrepreneur to do? Here’s how to take control of your business finances when the numbers terrify you:
1. Take a business financial program to learn more about the money flowing in and out of your business.
2. Hire a local or virtual financial expert to help you manage the financial aspects of your business. (Note: this person should not be your aunt or cousin who doesn’t have a financial background; I can tell you countless stories about how bad bookkeepers can ruin a business.)
3. Hire a business financial consultant or coach to teach you how to manage your finances. (I personally don’t recommend reading accounting or financial management books by yourself. Most likely you won’t finish the whole book and you’ll get confused about some of accounting principles.)
Yu-Fen Chang-Pett, the founder of Money Wisdom Empowerment, is a business financial consultant and certified money coach with 15+ years of experience in financial and accounting management. She teaches small business owners such as coaches, yoga teachers, artists, and holistic practitioners how to better understand the complicated financial aspects of running their businesses. She clarifies profitable business models and reveals the blockages of unconscious money behaviors and patterns in order to earn more money, enabling you to live the life you have dreamed of. Check out Money Wisdom Empowerment to revolutionize the way you deal with money or ask Yu-Fen a burning financial question in the comments!
Yu-Fen has a soft spot for artists, being that she is a professional potter. She has been working on pottery since 1995 and owned a pottery studio and gallery in Virginia for four years. You can view her work at www.yustudios.com
12 JanArtist’s Block
Ever get stuck? You’re trying to sketch out a new design or maybe you’re just staring at a totally blank canvas… it totally sucks!
Everyone always talks about the ways to get past it. It’s good advice like taking a walk, changing mediums, eating a good meal, flipping through a magazine… I always recommend that artists keep an inspiration file (either digitally, like in Evernote, or physically in a sketchbook) that’s available in their studio space.
But when it comes down to it – you just have to start.
Put the pen to the paper, dip the brush in the paint, grab a skein of yarn… just start.
Do things get a little crazy during the holidays for you? Maybe you get testy with the hubby or find yourself crying at least three times a week? That’s holiday overwhelm. But, my friend, there is a cure. You have to plan in advance and you have to be realistic.
First, consider taking a break from your business. You won’t make much money while you’re gone. But it’s actually not that hard to step away and return smoothly with no collateral damage.
If you’re not going to take a business vacation, then you need to start your holiday prep with a good, ol’ brain dump. Write down every task you’ve got to get done from today through about a week into the New Year. I like to use Asana to write my tasks down because I can easily make notes and subtasks, categorize, and later – schedule. But use what you’re comfortable with, even if it’s pen and paper. Take into account business things as well as family, travel, and gift- and event-related ones. You can add more later, but try to get every last task out of your head and onto the page.
Next, I want you to put the huge list aside and chill. We’re going to create a time-block template. During the holidays, every day is a little different, but you usually know how the day will look by the night before. So every night before bed, you’ll sketch out a quick idea of your day, roughly hour by hour.
A holiday time block on a Tuesday when you’re visiting family may look like:
Sleep in until 10
10-11 eat a late breakfast and visit with family
11-1 help Lisa shop for last-minute gifts
1-2 make and eat lunch
2-3 check email and social media
3-4 meeting with Julia
4-7 visit with family, help make dinner, eat
7-8 layout a banner for advertising on Papernstitch
8-9:30 workout and shower
9:30-12 relax, enjoy hot chocolate and a fire
But you’d start with just the bare bones:
Sleep in until 10
10-11 eat a late breakfast and visit with family
11-1 help Lisa shop for last-minute gifts
3-4 meeting with Julia
6-7 help make dinner, eat
So you start with a time template by hour, then you fill in the absolutely-scheduled things. And then you look through your list and pick the most important thing and put it into the day, the second most important and put it into the day, etc. While it sounds a little tedious, it actually only takes 5 minutes each night if you do it consistently and you’ve already brain dumped.
But before you start putting tasks in your templates, I want you to revisit the gigantic brain dump list. We need to organize it. You should make sure the style of organization works for you, but I suggest ordering in some manner by importance. You could just order the entire list. Or you may prefer to split things into categories like business, kids, presents, parties, etc. and then order by importance. If you do that, you can easily pick a task from each category and fill them into your day so that you’re making progress on all fronts. Or you can work on one category each day so you stay in the zone and can focus the few days before a party. Do what feels good to you and adjust along the way.
Now that things are ordered, you are to ignore the list until each night when you fill out the time template. If you’re using Asana, you can go ahead and roughly schedule things out by day. But you still need to use the time template each night to get a clear visual of the day ahead and to keep you on task during the day, never floundering for the right thing to do. Again, ONLY look at the list when you are filling out the time template, and try to only fill out one time template at a time. If you fill out more, you might find a task doesn’t get done because it takes longer than you thought or your day got derailed by an emergency, and then you’ll feel very overwhelmed when you’re trashing the other time templates and having to recreate them.
This is all about feeling in control of the tasks. You know when they’re going to get done and you’re giving them time slots to prove it. I swear this helps tame the mind-clutter and makes you more productive. But you have to relax and you can’t let yourself look at the huge brain dump list unless you’re filling out tomorrow’s time template.
The last thing you’ve got to do is relax. Yep, eat some chocolate, drink some wine, take a hot bath, read a book…. do whatever you have to do to chill out. Your holidays are taken care of, the tasks just haven’t been actually completed yet. But there’s no more worry that needs to be done here. So reward yourself for all the prep work and take some time to bring yourself down from the stress it undoubtedly brought on. And then proceed with the plan to turn your stressed-out holidays into Happy Holidays!
Planning on taking off some time during the holiday season? Great! You deserve it. But you also need to make sure your business is ready for a break. Here’s what you need to do:
Communicate: let your customers know when you’ll be gone. Start by posting on social media about the vacation you’re taking or how excited you are to see your family and take a break from orders. Then put an announcement up on your site that tells customers when you’ll be gone and when they can expect orders to ship. Don’t forget to update any automated messages to reflect your vacation times. And let your custom or personalized order customers know directly about their order.
Prioritize: first, don’t take on any new work. No custom orders and no new pieces. Make a list of crucial things that need to get done – orders that need to be shipped, social media or blog posts that need to be written and scheduled, pieces that need to be finished, etc. And then prioritize them so that the most important things get done first.
Automate: site visitors and customers during your holiday break still need the best service you can give. Anticipate their needs by answering Frequently Asked Questions somewhere easy to find on your website. Link to it from the front page and from the shopping cart if you can. Put your business email on an autoresponder that lets people know you’re on vacation and when you’ll get back to them. Don’t forget to link to your FAQ’s.
Tidy: there’s nothing worse than returning from a vacation to a cluttered, stressful mess. Make sure you take a half hour to tidy up your workspaces.
What else do you do before you take time off from your business? Let me know in the comments.
Ever feel overwhelmed with the thought of finally getting your art up for sale online? Websites, social media, newsletters, marketing, photography, eCommerce, branding…. oh my goodness! It’s enough to put you off from the idea completely. And I know artists, maybe even some of you, who have done just that – decided the world wide web just isn’t for you.
Well, today I’m going to tell you how little you actually need to get started online. I bet it’s less than you ever thought. And anything else you want to do can be implemented slowly. These basics are the foundation you need to just get started already!
1. Website. It’s your hub where customers can go when they’re ready to buy or want to know more about you. It only needs to be 3 pages: a homepage, an about page, and a shop page. Simple is key, just write out some honest, descriptive text and put up lots of photos of your work. The shop page needs eCommerce capabilities, but that’s easier than you think.
Action Step: Get a website. I recommend buying a domain through Dynadot, hosting through BlueHost, and installing WordPress.org to make it super easy to create your site all by yourself. For eCommerce, I use and like the free version of WooCommerce, but there are lots of options out there at various price points.
2. Social Media. You only need to start with one. And if you don’t want to, you never have to move beyond that one. But having a social network you can connect with customers on makes a big difference in your online marketing. It drives traffic to your website and builds camaraderie with your customers that keeps them coming back for more. This is also a crucial step if you have nothing up for sale yet. You’re building relationships that will reward you in the future when you do have something for sale.
Action Step: Pick between the most popular sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Click over to the .com and sign up for an account, using your full artist name if you can. Fill out the profile and then take a look around or put a date on the calendar when you will learn the platform and start posting.
3. Email List. Technically, this is really the same as a newsletter. But that word sounds so scary and daunting that I prefer “email list”. You just need to have somewhere you collect the emails of people who are interested in your art. You don’t need to send them anything yet, but you want to have the option if you need to get in touch with customers for any reason.
Action Step: Sign up for an account with an email marketing provider (I use and adore MadMimi). Ask friends and family if they would like to be on your list. Contact previous customers and ask if they would like to hear from you when you’re having a sale or a gallery show. Always ask before adding an email to your list. Also, add an “opt-in form” to your website that will collect email addresses from interested potential customers without you lifting another finger.
4. Photos. You need high-quality photographs of your art – assuming you aren’t a photographer… of course, then this one is taken care of!
Action Step: Do your homework. Read up on how to take good photographs of artwork with regards to things like lighting, staging, and editing. Then take four or five great photos of at least ten of your pieces and put them up for sale on your new website.
5. Celebrate. Rejoice in the little accomplishments. They are actually really big and scary and daunting. And you’ve conquered them! Whenever you take another leap forward, reward yourself. I prefer chocolate, but feel free to pick your own vice.
Last updated byat .