Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Paperwork. Behind the scenes of a creative mind.

No one likes doing paperwork. Especially not creative people. It is time away from making and designing but it is necessary.

Inventory, stock lists, CV's, artist's statements, terms and conditions, invoices, contracts and order forms are all important parts of running a small business and when you are a sole trader it falls to you to handle all paperwork yourself.

My paperwork skills are quite good, perhaps a little too good. I am very meticulous but this can often get in the way of a streamlined paperwork system! For my inventory I currently have a word document, an excel document, a book where I keep hard copies and a folder for each stockist where I also keep hard copies, which all need updated every time I send work to a stockist. This is paper and labour intensive!


It is a bit strange that someone who worked in inventory for her day job for so long has such an archaic inventory system but it does work for me!

My main struggle with my paperwork is that all my stockists carry out their paperwork differently. Some ask you to invoice them, others don't, some pay after one month, others after two, some even pay at the end of the exhibition period. Also, every gallery's codes work differently. Sometimes they'll inform me that a piece has sold but they only have it listed in their codes, so I have no idea what has and hasn't sold until the unsold work is delivered back to me at the end of the exhibition period. This has caused many a mix up in the past but I haven't quite worked out a way to rectify it yet. It's something to work on at least!

Last year I bought Angie Boothroyd's book Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business (see The Design Trust's review of the book here). It may seem an odd read for someone who has been in business for 9 years but this book is great for new starts as well as people who have been in business for years like myself. There is always something you won't have thought of or a better way to do something, so I never write off set up guides or any kind of business advice.

Recently I have been trying to update my CV and artist's statement but I have been really struggling due to not being able to 'step back' from them. I was offered some help via LinkedIn by Stephanie Webster and I am so grateful to Stephanie for all her ongoing help. It really makes a difference when someone else looks at what you are working on with fresh eyes.

I have also found some great blog posts by illustrator Sue Bulmer that have helped me to work out better ways to do my paperwork, as well as the things I need to put in my terms and conditions and contracts.

It may not be a subject that brings a smile to our faces but it's definitely one that's worth discussing with fellow crafters. If anyone has any tips on how they handle their paperwork please let me know.

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