Creative Businesses Have to Be Organized. Here’s How to Do It.
For most of us, it’s a lot more fun to talk about being creative than being organized. Creativity might be what’s driving your business idea or existing business. Maybe you have a product or service that you just love creating.
We can tell you, though, as people who have been in the creativity business a long time that creativity is only part of the equation. You have to be organized, too. Behind the scenes at DesignGood is probably a lot more process-y than you imagine.
Yes, we do a lot of creative stuff — like brainstorming ideas for our clients. But we also do all the work to make sure those ideas turn into high-quality products that get delivered on time. We use templates, interim deadlines and a lot of tech tools that make our lives easier and our work stronger.We believe anyone has the ability to get more organized, even if your whole self-image is about being a free-spirited creative. (And, by the way, having all the details of your business under control truly frees up your spirit.)
These are some of the systems + strategies that work for us.
- Get the right tools. We are all so crazy-lucky to be building businesses in a time like this. Why? There’s so much technology that opens up possibilities for businesses of any size. We’ll share a few of our favorites here.
- Streamline team communications. Especially if you have team members in different locations, email just isn’t the best way to communicate anymore. That’s one of the reasons we use the team collaboration tool Asana.
- Set lots of milestones. Break down big deadlines into smaller interim deadlines so that you’re not scrambling to do everything at once. This is another way we use Asana.
- Don’t do the same work twice. Anything you do repeatedly — for example, sending a follow-up email after a client meeting — should have a template so you’re not starting over from scratch each time.
- Track your time. Knowing how long things really take helps you maximize what you can do and keeps you from getting spread too thin. We’ve had great results using Harvest for time tracking.
- Centralize your stuff. There are two big reasons to do this. 1) To give everyone on your team quick access the resources and references they need. 2) To keep different versions of files and documents from floating around via email. For us, Dropbox and Google Docs have worked really well.
- Don’t forget money. The financial stuff might be what creatives dread the most, but you have to stay organized here so that you can have a sustainable career and keep doing the things you do love. Check out FreshBooks, which is like an easy version of Quickbooks made for creative entrepreneurs, and Bench, a super-affordable monthly bookkeeping service. No more reconciling the books on your own!
- Make constant improvements. Getting your business organized isn’t something you do once. It’s a constant work in progress. We’re always looking for ways to work more effectively and get better results for clients. Remember, if you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time in your business, chances are there’s a better way to do it now. Take a look at your biggest time drains. How could you handle them differently?
- Bring in some help. Getting an outside perspective on your business can help you spot those opportunities for improvement. Compare notes with other business owners in your field. You could even enlist a coach or consultant to help you think differently and discover solutions you might not have found on your own.
We believe that bringing a great brand to life takes both creativity and organization. Learn more about what it’s like to work with us.