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Managing the business side of Design*Sponge is a dream come true for me. I’ve been working with Grace and the team for seven years now and each day I’m reminded of the perks of being a small business. Having worked my entire career supporting admirable content operations, I can tell you there is nothing like building the business of a creative operation from the ground up. Sure, small businesses are a lot of hard work — but they possess an inherent agility that’s missing in most large operations. Even when I worked for larger companies, I somehow managed to find and serve organizations that kept that agile spirit at their core and therefore saw tremendous growth.
At the start of Bloomberg Television, we built tv studios in our news bureaus around the world with no more than six person teams and we’d often find ourselves in the electronics district in Tokyo grabbing equipment off the shelves that had outrageous leadtimes had we ordered them instead. The point is small business has far more freedom to act quickly than businesses with layers of communication, approvals and departmental responsibilities that often can pose conflicts within the organization.
Of course, it’s not all roses and lattes here in small business land. The one area that contains multiple tar pits is finance and accounting. I’ve seen it time and time again – creative businesses that don’t dedicate the time it takes to set up a viable financial plan and then stick to it. I get it. It’s painful. But don’t avoid the pain only to find yourself with one major nail-biting, headache-inducing meeting with the accountant you only speak to at tax time.
There is nothing more empowering than to know the ups and downs and the ins and outs of your business’s finances. That knowledge affects every single decision you make for your time and your business, including what you make, when you make it and the clients you work with. This is exactly why we switched over to . Things are good when they’re good, but when they turn flat or even bad for a variety of reasons, you need to be prepared — and have several back-up plans to lean on in lean times.
We formerly used a large payroll company to process our payroll bi-weekly. They made sure the correct taxes were withheld, healthcare contributions were extracted from paychecks, etc. But there were always questions, because we actually looked at the books. When we noticed market volatility, which really translates to business specific conditions like fluctuating payment rates or a rise in the cost of materials, I felt a disconnect between the large company who processed basic, repeating financial tasks for us for a pretty penny and the front line of our business. To create scenarios that could positively effect our business or protect us when the market changed was not something we could just request. I reminded myself that D*S is a big brand, but a small business. And we needed to take back control of all aspects of the business.
Our decision to migrate over to was really driven by three main reasons. Number one, everything is in the same place – think easy to read (and understand) dashboards and visual charts available anytime. Using QuickBooks Online, you really can’t help being organized. Number two was payroll and invoicing. With both of these business functions in one place, all that data flows into cash flow reports that really help quarterly and long term planning. Issuing statements is easy and can be automated, plus we now have the information ready at hand to forecast when we’ll be paid for projects based on historical data.
Our third reason for switching was handling expenses on-the-go with the QuickBooks Online app. Everything is kept up to date and categorized in real time. What that means to us as a small business is that our decision- making on what projects to take on is optimized. What we can afford to produce is always in sync with where we stand financially.
One of my favorite features of QuickBooks Online is that our accountant can pop in anytime and recommend strategies for us to consider in the near term. Because it’s so painless to track our expenses, issue invoices and statements and tackle that massive pile of receipts, our accountant can get a real-time view of our business and have conversations with us that help us plan for growth beyond the current year. These conversations are essential not only for our security and confidence, but they really serve as motivation to innovate and come up with new editorial ideas that we can afford to take risks on.
I’m always psyched to show off what we’ve learned on or the during these calls. When you work remotely, these resources are so helpful to learn virtually with other small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs. The QuickBooks blog and Resource Center feel like we’re popping into our own finance department to ask a quick question that will enable us to fill out our editorial calendar and stay on budget. If you want to get organized and prepare to unleash your creativity within a realistic business scenario, you can take advantage of the major discount QuickBooks has just extended – up to 70% off – right . To get motivated, start exploring QuickBooks Online with a free trial. Agility is one of the best parts of being a small business, and keeping your finances organized in real-time allows you to maximize your agility. A tool like QuickBooks Online is essential for smooth sailing on the business front so that your creativity can blossom in all the right ways.