If you are creative, how do you manage the boring stuff?(16 Posts)
Started a v. small business working from home last year, just filed first tax return covering the first 6 months.
Am feeling really disillusioned as I find it really confusing and difficult to do the "boring" stuff, accounts and legal stuff etc, business is too small to justify accountant/book-keeper to take care of that side of things, OTOH I have had to spend a lot more time trying to understand that stuff instead of working on the creative side which actually generates money.
I'm wondering whether I'm just not cut out for it and considering jacking it in, and only having another go when I have a proper business that justifies a book-keeper etc. I'm good at keeping records of everything, I might just be a bit stupid about understanding the tax stuff. I want to be self-employed and make a living from creative endeavours!
So I'm just wondering how other people who are running small businesses and consider themselves primarily creative-minded manage to actually......make it work?
I detest that side of things (I'm a designer and illustrator) but in my first few years I had to bite the bullet and get on with it. I was never convinced I was doing it properly though because I am useless with numbers so eventually I decided to go with an accountant - best decision I could have made!
He costs me £300-400 a year (there may be cheaper ones though) but has probably saved me that much because of things I didn't know about. In addition I no longer dread a call or visit from HMRC (well not as much!) and I figure the time I spent struggling with my books is better spent
on MN doing what I'm good at and earning some money.
I keep my own records on a monthly basis (invoices, expenses etc - no stock involved) then present it all to him in a tidy fashion at the end of each tax year and he does the rest.
Would that be an option for you? If you could just mange the day to day stuff and get an accountant to handle the complicated bits?
Treat admin as a problem-solving exercise worthy of your brain, reminding yourself that "work hard, not smart" is a mantra for fools. I once had a promotion in a job which involved freelance contributions, and saved myself at least 2 hours a week (compared to my old boss) for editorial work, by putting the freelance contribs onto a spreadsheeted basis (boss used to list them in Word, then add up by hand ). No-one saw any extra work tge first time I did it, as it took me as long as my boss used to take. Thereafter, I got extra wirk done every week.
Also, surely it's satisfying to be paid for your work, and demoralising not to be paid, so there really are rewards here.
Thanks, that is interesting! I am just reading this which has lots of usueful articles on the subject.
I think that is why I think I should probably give up on what I have been doing - it hasn't been wasted time, I've learnt a lot...namely that 1) it's important to focus on one area 2) I am very bad at that and 3) it's probably worth spending a year or more in planning and come up with a proper business plan, take out a business loan, get an accountant etc and then like you say, free up my time to do the stuff I am skilled at instead of floundering helplessly!
Yes, I mean, I take pride in trying to get to grips with the admin side - i've kept extremely detailed accounts etc but haven't got round to re-learning how to use excel so can use spreadsheets, have been doing everything the very long way on paper, just because I know I can get it right, with a long term view to converting to online accounting software, excel etc.
Think I need to learn more!
No chance of getting an accountant, then? I have a friend in a creative industry who has a star accountant who has worked out record-keeping methods "friendly" to the touring lifestyle and the chronically disorganised (also keep in mind that many of the receipts must be put away at the end of a heavy night! )
If you are making money & it suits you I'd try to overcome the admin/managing money issue if you can. I know where you are coming from, I hate it. One of my ambitions is to grow enough so I can give it all to somebody else!
There are lots of videos on youtube re using Excel. It is much quicker than paper and you have a copy etc. Am sure you know all the benefits etc.
From what you have said you are doing the most time consuming bit of accounts well.
Like Cambridge I pay £300 for an accountant to spot check what I have done (so entering expenses in excel & doing the invoices), produce the accounts and do my annual return for me. It is worth it for peace of mind.
I loath that side of things OP.
I'm a writer. I also own various online (writing related) blogs and websites.
What I do, is diarise time that has to spent doing the shitty chore-work. I also diarise time spent doing creative stuff, domestic stuff, even wasting time .
I like a timetable, me .
If you are making money & it suits you
I hate it too. But then there were lots and lots of things about having a job-job I hated too. Like having to do a bs appraisal every three months. Attending 3 hour project review meetings over the phone with 15 other people who never identified themselves before they spoke so you spent half the time wondering who was who. Team awaydays. A weekly round-up of my achievements for my boss.
What I'm saying is, if you work for yourself the things you don't like doing should take up less of the picture than the things you do like doing, but they'll never fully go away. If you genuinely like what you do and are making money as others have said, don't stop.
I've found with accounts etc. it's best to put receipts into a spreadsheet and file them as soon as possible (not straight after a gig but usually the next day) so it only takes a few minutes and I don't waste time trying to find them.
I'm a storyteller and children's author, I like a good bit of variety in my day, so view a little bit of accounting and filing as another type of tidying.
I wouldn't dream of leaving my writing desk or puppet box untidy, as I wouldn't be able to find the things I need to work.
Same goes for receipts and files. Keep them tidy for a simple life, and free up time for fun things.
I do what Nomad does. Stick all the receipts, invoices, and so on in a file, go through them once a year to hand them to the accountant. Not expensive, usually £200 for me.
Also, I went on a free bookkeeping course with the council or local Business Link or whatever (was ten or more years ago!) which was worthwhile. Told you the basics. Still use an accountant though.
Get an accountant. Best £250 I spend (I'm in London). I've been self employed for 7 years and got an acc 3-4 years ago. She's great and saves me loads of money on my tax by claiming for all the things I'd forget about. I just keep all receipts, keep an excel file of my earnings, and send her everything once a year. She files my tax return.
Try freeagent. I've linked it to the practice bank account so you spend 5 minutes a day logging what transaction was what and that's that. It also lets you create and link invoices, log hours etc (I'm an architect so still working out how long I spend on a job vs how long I've quoted for!)
It was recommended to me by a techie friend who also runs his own business, although totally different from mine and we both swear by it now.
I paid £200 to an accountant my first year and he came round and went through everything with me and explained what to do, how to fill in my tax return, and what I really needed to document (surprisingly little). Then he filed my tax return and sent me an annotated copy so I could do it myself next time. For me the huge benefit of this was relieving my anxiety - I had this floating sense I was Doing It Rong and £200 seemed fair enough to relieve that.
I use no cash in the business and put every transaction through the business account. Once a month I put everything from my statement into my Google spreadsheet "trading accounts" and check the summary sheet matches my cash balance ... and that is that.
I've not read all the threads but whatever the line of work there are going to be bits you don't like doing but have to do. That's life I'm afraid. Unless you're paid megabucks and then you can afford to pay the minions to do admin, for instance, for you. But i guess there will still be things you have to do that you'd rather not!
Same for being at home (I mean not doing paid work): would you rather wash the kitchen floor and the loo, or hang the washing out on a beautiful spring morning when the birds are singing and the crocuses are out? Both need doing but one of them you'd happily drop....!
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