Just a few short months ago I was not doing business. I was stuffing around with the idea of making money outside of my day job and billing people for bits and pieces. It felt so messy. It was stagnant and so ridiculously unorganised. Seems ironic for someone who teaches business systems, yeah? Don't worry, the irony isn't lost on me either.
Going back to a day job in September was the best infusion for my business systems. Counterintuitive as it may seem, corporate structure is the fuel for what I teach creatives and a huge injection of inspiration.
I work in finance (yeah, I know - boring!) and if you're looking for an example of an industry with strict end-of-month procedures, you've found it. End-of-month activities are all about accountability and growth. The big bosses want to know how much money is coming in and where its going when it leaves the bank account. They want to know how their staff have succeeded during the month. They want to know how the business sustainability is looking. It's the same for creatives!
I want you to start thinking about your own end-of-month processes for your own creative business and today I've got five suggestions for where to start.
Print out your Profit & Loss statement
My accountant heart loves a good ol' Profit & Loss statement. It's a simple report listing what money came in and what money went out for the month, leaving you with either a profit or a loss. P&L statements are how I put together my monthly income reports.
In your accounting program, it's as simple as running a report. There will be a button for it - just plug in your dates and go. If you're not using an accounting program, use a simple spreadsheet listing your income and expenses.
The aim of your P&L is to see at a glance what you've had coming in through the business and what you've had going out through the business. When you print it off and pop it your Finance Bible (a binder where you store all of your financial docs like your P&L, bank statements and your Monthly Stats sheet) you've got a paper trail of progress for your business that you can pick up and flick through whenever you need.
Do your filing
I know exactly how your office looks right now. Piles of paper on the end of the desk that you'll file when you get five minutes. A clipped bundle of worksheets that you printed out from the last opt-in you signed up for.
Move those digital files off your computer desktop. Hole punch that paperwork and file it in the binder it belongs in. Bin the stuff you really don't need. Scan in the stuff you want to archive. Sort out your email inbox because no, you don't need to keep all of them.
Clutter breeds clutter and you need to create white space - mental and physical - to keep moving forward in your business.
Finish the little tasks you've been putting off
Those one off tasks that you leave for “one day”, they add up. Take some time to tick them off and start the next month off with a fresh, clean to-do list.
I'm a procrastinator by nature and it hurts me. I waste so much time just looking at my Asana projects and moving things around to "make more time" in my week... when really I'm just making more work for myself when I finally get around to it. I was starting every new month off on the back foot before it even began.
Eventually, like a bulldozer moving dirt, everything is going to spill over the bucket because there's only so much room for it to build up. If it's a thirty-second task, all the more reason to do it now! Completing the things you've kept putting off - that's how you'll give yourself time back in the week.
Follow up outstanding client invoices
Bill out projects that you've been sitting on, time you've not yet charged on and send that reminder email to a late paying client.
Asking for your clients to pay up can be really awkward. I still haven't mastered the money talk but hey man, I need to pay my bills too! I've made a habit of sending out client statements every month. It's a gentle reminder to clients of the invoices still outstanding and something that can be set up automatically in your accounting program - set and forget!
Complete a monthly stats sheet
I have no idea how many website visitors I had in March. Couldn't tell you how many people read my emails in June. I don't even think I had goals then. In November, I started tracking my stats and boy do I regret not doing it sooner! Not only do I have visual proof that my business is growing but it keeps the momentum going and makes me want to keep on keeping on with blogging, emailing you guys and playing with social media (because I will never master that stuff!)
Facts and figures, that's what can make or break your business. Look at how the month has seen your business grow by tracking stats like website visitors, page views and newsletter subscribers.
Grab my free Monthly Stats worksheet for free below and start tracking your own growth!