I’ve been caught on the hop with recent developments as work seems to have stepped up a gear both in terms of volume and the quality.
I’ve missed deadlines; a cardinal writing sin!
There is no-one else responsible, it’s me and frankly, I just was not prepared so immersed have I become in attracting business, dealing with existing customers and getting the job done that I have not seen the wood for the trees.
That stops today or I won’t have a business left and one step forward is pointless if it results in two steps back.
So aggressive have I become at sorting out business affairs and dealing with workload issues that the delightful little darlings, heir and spare, have been packed off to mother for the week and the phone is off the hook.
Now I’m a dab hand at getting to grips with admin and weeding out the important from the immaterial trivia that collects with your business dealings; a hangover from my days being Chief Chimp of my own outfit. This may not be the case with you and artists rarely have a sense of the importance of paper from a business perspective, so here is some TCP to help you stay on top of things before you have a mini crisis.
TCP = Time, Client & Paper
Invest in a good diary – preferably a page a day one so you can plan your day and your week. If you can be organised and disciplined, plot out when you are going to work on each commission. Leave spaces floating in the diary for “last minute” jobs and also make sure you allocate time for performing your admin.
If you are using your technology to the full, try a contact management system; I use ACT and have done for several years. I’m a stickler for it and I never lose a telephone number or an email address. The diary function is excellent for planning purposes and reminding me of approaching deadlines or reminders to clients to pay me.
Managing client expectations is key in my experience. I started off blogging and it becomes all too easy to start throwing in those little free extras that may not appear to take up much of your time but then you have a client that expects that treatment everytime thereafter.
Building a good reputation is essential for building a good stream of repeat business from referral and repeat commissions. Key to building a good reputation is delivering what you have agreed to deliver on time and at the right quality and price. Don’t be a salesman and promise the earth only to disappoint the client or overload yourself with an impossible delivery. Make your pitch, make it credible and deliver exactly what you promise or a little bit more if you are conscientious and time permits.
Do not be afraid to nail a client down exactly and make sure they understand what you will be providing; other extras can be added as “options” the fee for which is negotiable.
If you have a filing cabinet excellent, as though we allegedly live in a paperless world, dead trees still seem to congregate no matter what you do to reduce the paper burden.
There is no need to spend money on this – check out www.freecycle.org – this is a recycling website that offers anything and everything. I have two 4 drawer filing cabinets, several dozen lever arch files and a whole host of office type goodies that have cost me precisely nothing.
Get organised and don’t waste time rummaging around for bits of paper that should be put away where you can grab them when you need them eg. when a client calls asking where you have got to and can they change some of the specifications.
I allocate an hour to paperwork each week and get it over with first thing on Monday morning, the sooner the better.
You can look at managing your activity in many different ways, but TCP has for almost twenty years governed mine and it works; the simplest things most often do.