I am wondering if people could advise me on what they have found
to be the best ways to "manage data" and I mean particularly as
someone starting out. Is it good enough to start by using
spreadsheets in microsoft excel or do most people see a real need
to invest in some sort of management system? If I set
up spreadsheets now listing things like inventory,
consumables/suppliers/prices, sales/customer details etc, etc would
this be helpful to me later or just a waste of my time?
I am also someone who is starting out. This year was the first year
I loaded everything into Quickbooks and I found it very helpful to be
able to have a picture of how things are going and also to be able to
give the info to the accountant.
As far as managing data in Excel, I think this is fine if you know
how to segregate items. If you have an accountant already, he/she can
advise you on this. An example would be this: If you went to a class
and had to stay in a hotel, you would want to put the charge for your
hotel room in one account and the charges for your meals in another
account as they are treated differently for tax purposes.
If there is a local Chamber of Commerce for your area, you might
check if they have small business workshops. An intro to accounting
would be very helpful to you now. If not, maybe a local community
Probably (imo), a couple of the most important things to keep a
handle on are 1) the level of raw material you are carrying 2) the
amount in your bank account. I was a partner in a bead store
previously. I was absolutely floored when one of my partners brought
in a picture of her "bead room" at home. She was thrilled to announce
that she had thousands of dollars worth of beads at home. I saw it as
material that was sitting there instead of making money....a huge
loss from my standpoint. I am always shocked to find out how many
business owners do not know how much they actually have in their
checking accounts until tax time. Talk about living life on the edge.
Having an adequate customer record will be helpful to you as you
will want to announce things to them like shows you're in, new
galleries that carry your work, open studio events...that kind of
It is great that you are starting early on in organizing things. It
absolutely will make things easier later. It is much more difficult
to go back and try to sort things out as opposed to keeping good
records from the start.