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    How to design your own creative workspace

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    By Diana Scully

    I was never much of a desk or office person. In my previous profession as a lawyer, I had the opportunity to work at a communal desk and then was later given my own private office. While I do enjoy working in a quiet environment, attending the same location/room/chair each day was a challenge for me. So it’s no surprise that having now moved out of the corporate world and running my own interior design studio, the opportunity to work where it suits me best, is such a benefit to me.

    While I still have my own office, where I get to display, decorate and style my own way, I don’t have to confine myself to this location, every day. Luckily for me, my role as an interior designer means I’m not always designated behind a desk, so I embrace the opportunity to mix things up and find spaces that give me the freedom to work at my greatest capacity and feel creative.

    Transitioning from a practising lawyer into an interior designer, I have learnt how how to set up my work environment to maximise my ability to think and dream creativity for my clients. In this two-part series, I will share with you how you can adapt your environment to give yourself the opportunity to maximum your working capacity and allow yourself to be creative. In my following post, I will interview other creative women from Creative Women’s Circle to see what others are doing to inspire their creativity. Hopefully, during this process, you will gather some inspiration to covert your workspace into an inspiring, creative one.

    Think beyond the desk

    I think we’ve all learnt to believe that you are most productive when you sit at a desk. After all, for many of us, going to work means sitting at your workstation in an office environment, right? Not necessarily. Some of my best work has taken place in my favourite cafe with my headphones on, in the local library on one of their many armchairs with my feet up, or even taking my meeting calls as I walk through a city park or stroll along the beach. After spending the last year in LA and not having a designated workspace, I’ve learnt that I can equally if not more so, be productive at locations that make me happy and accommodate my needs (i.e. internet access). So think beyond the office desk and immerse yourself in various environments to allow yourself to think differently.

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    Your space is an extension of you

    If however, routine, consistency and organisation is what you need to work productively, then a designated workspace may be the winning formula for you. In that case, before you set yourself up and run down to the nearest office supply store for your standard desk and chair combination, reconsider your space. Why not create an environment that makes you feel excited to come to everyday?

    A few ways to avoid working from a typical workstation:

    • Choose an unconventional desk chair  - maybe a favourite armchair or dining chair? Or set up a few different seating arrangements in your space like a bean bag or sofa.
    • Bring in your favourite table lamp or floor lamp.
    • Choose a dining table for a desk and use boxes, crates, baskets and bedside tables as alternate storage options.
    • Create a vignette of little pots in one corner of your desk, filled with greenery to offer you constant energy throughout your working day.
    • Avoid bare and blank walls by hanging up your favourite prints or posters to keep you motivated and inspired.
    • Place a sheepskin rug at your feet to keep you cosy and warm at the desk.
    • Be adventurous with colour and paint a wall in another hue, or for the bigger risk taker, introduce some wallpaper!

    Co-work spaces and four-legged friends

    Last year, in LA, I spent some time in a co-work space in Santa Monica. Not only was this space a breath of fresh air from the stagnate interiors of the corporate world, it was an opportunity to meet new people, each doing their own thing. A fabulous place to network, discuss and explore your ideas with like minded attitudes and work in an environment that was comfortable, relaxed and free from rules and systems.  Plus, most co-work spaces allow you to pick and choose the days you want to come in – so there’s no on-going commitment!

    One of my favourite perks from working in this LA co-work space was it allowed guests to bring along their dogs for the day. This was such a delight! I instantly felt more relaxed and comfortable in my unfamiliar surrounding with a furry friend at my feet. Generally, dogs were well behaved, even as they roamed the hallways or nuzzled their noses into your legs, begging for their next scratch.

    If you are lucky to have a gorgeous four-legged friend, next time consider taking him on a walk on your next meeting call or to sit beside you when you work from your laptop at your favourite cafe. I found that having a dog near by helped me keep calm and relaxed during my work day and a good excuse to take a break and pop outside for a walk.

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    Look inside then look around

    To maximise your creative energy each day, you need to understand what sort of environment you work best in. Be open to exploring different locations like a home office, co-work space, local library or cafe and if it suits you, don’t restrict yourself to the same space every day. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new surroundings in hope to encourage you to think a little differently. For some of us, who thrive on routine or require a point of reference for work, don’t limit your environment to a mundane, boring space. Avoid conventional furniture arrangements and use unexpected pieces that will help you create something special. Be passionate about where you work! Setting up a workspace that makes you feel comfortable, as well as address your business needs, will no doubt keep you feeling creative and excited about what you do. Choose to create a space and find a location that reflects who you are. After all, how you work and play is a representation of your business and brand. Embrace this to design a space that is an extension of you.

    { Image credits 1 2 3 }

    Interior Designer, Diana Scully owns and operates her own interior design firm, Spaces by Diana that’s all about designing beautiful, personalised homes to reflect the people who live in it. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces to see and visit from around the world and shares her recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, organise me | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Accounting tips for your creative business

    accounting-tips-creative-business-monica-ng_creative-womens-circle

    By Monica Ng

    One of the biggest challenges for creatives can be understanding and keeping up to date with the accounting side of their business. Understanding the numbers in your business is a vital skill that can remove much of the guesswork when you make decisions regarding the profitability of your work. When you have access to real data and can identify concrete trends across the profitability of the products and services that you offer, you can make decisions based on real information, not just a gut feeling.

    As a jewellery maker and designer myself, I completely understand that managing the books can be a difficult and tedious task, because before I changed to a creative career, I was working in the accounting industry. So today I want to help you gain a better understanding of your numbers and the areas where you generate the most and the least amount of money, by explaining two must-have ‘business report cards’ and guiding you through how they can assist you to monitor and assess your business profitability.

    1. Profit and Loss Statement

    Your Profit and Loss (P&L) statement shows how your business performed during a period of time. There are three main factors of a P&L statement:

    Revenue: Any sort of income you earn, whether it be from sales of products or services, commission etc; and

    Expenses: Any sort of expense you spend in the course of running your business like:

    • Cost of goods sold
    • Supplies and materials (raw materials you use to make your products – fabric, beads, glue, metal etc)
    • Rent
    • Advertising (Facebook ads, Google adwords, marketing materials like business cards, post cards etc),
    • Fees and charges (online shop fees, PayPal/credit card transaction fees, bank fees, EFTPOS fees, website hosting fees, stall hire fees, consignment fees)
    • Office expenses (stationery, printing)
    • Subscriptions (magazines/journals related to the industry your business operates in)
    • Postage
    • Utilities (electricity, gas, water, telephone, wifi)
    • Insurance (home and contents, theft, public and product liability)
    • Professional services (legal, accounting)
    • Repairs and maintenance (equipment your business uses)
    • Wages, superannuation etc.

    (Please note this is a example of the kind of revenue and expense items a typical business may have – yours may vary.)

    COGS (cost of goods sold): COGS refers to the costs directly associated to the production of a product. This includes any material costs, labour, shipping and other costs to transform the product to be ready for sale. Determining the COGS can be one of the more difficult things to calculate and the value changes depending on which valuation method you use when you’re doing your books. But to explain the concept simply, let’s go through an example. Let’s say, I have $100 worth of beads in inventory at the beginning of the month. I buy an extra $20 worth of beads during the month and have $50 worth of beads at the end of the month. How do I calculate my COGS?

    (Beginning inventory: $100) + (Purchases: $20) – (Ending inventory: $50) = Cost of goods sold: $70

    For more information or assistance developing your specific COGS, have a chat with your accountant!

    Now here are some key formulae for a P&L statement:

    • Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) = Gross profit
    • COGS = opening stock + purchase – closing stock
    • Gross profit – expenses = Net profit/net loss

    Remember to keep receipts for EVERYTHING you purchase, whether it be offline and online. For online purchases I like to save each receipt into a specific folder on my computer (and I also back it up regularly). You might prefer to print out your receipts and keep them organised in folders dedicated to a single month or specific financial year.

    2. Balance Sheet

    Your business’ balance sheet shows your assets, liabilities and owners equity as at a specific date.

    Assets: Cash, accounts receivables (money you have invoiced your clients that you have not yet received), inventory, investments, tools and equipment and any other asset your business owns

    Liabilities: Money that your business owes (you have been invoiced for a service you used and have not yet paid or materials you have bought but not yet paid for), accounts payable, bank/credit overdraft and any other debt

    Owners Equity: Anything that is left over, once liabilities have been paid for from assets. If your equity is high, it means that your assets outweigh your liabilities, if your equity is negative, you’re losing money, and your business isn’t making enough money to carry the level of debt it’s carrying.

    The basic accounting equation for a balance sheet is: Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity

    Ageing receivables and payables.

    If you sell products or services, you’ll need to keep a track of the ageing of receivables and payables. Ageing is usually broken up into four categories: 0 – 30 days, 31 – 60 days, 61 – 90 days and 91+ days.

    When you issue an invoice to a client or customer, the longer the invoice goes unpaid, the higher the likelihood that you may not get paid at all. It’s important to monitor invoice payments, so you can chase up a client if the invoice becomes overdue. A debt is said to ‘go bad’ when the client doesn’t pay or can’t pay, which may mean you need to write it off as a bad debt. Not getting paid is certainly not good for your business!

    Other useful accounting tips

    Set up a dedicated bank account

    It’s a good idea to set up a dedicated bank account for your business. Therefore, whenever you update your financial information, you don’t need to wade through all the transactions to pick out the ones that are personal and which ones are business-related transactions.

    Let technology help your keep track of your data

    There are lots of techonology options to help you manage the data your business sales generate, so you can turn it into information that’s accurate, relevant and timely for decision-making. If you’re just starting out or your revenue and expenses are quite straight forward, you could use something as simple as an Excel document to keep track of everything. Otherwise, cloud-based accounting software such as MYOB, Xero or Waveapps offer a host of benefits – though some might incur a monthly fee (but most have a free trial period so you can see if the investment works for your business needs).

    Make accounting part of your weekly or monthly routine

    Depending on the level of activity your business generates, you should update your financial information weekly or at least monthly to give you a good indication as to how your business is performing. Choose a day or even half a day each week/month, and dedicate yourself completely to managing and reviewing your P&L and balance sheets. Remember, this day is important to spend on your business and not in your business.

    Do your own books (or at least keep a close eye on them!)

    When you’re just starting out, I totally recommend you do your own bookkeeping so you can understand what is happening in your business, rather than outsourcing it straight away to a professional bookkeeper or accountant. As your business grows, and your business generates more activity, it may be worthwhile bringing on a professional to assist, so you can concentrate on the things you do best and provide most value to your business. Bu having said that, even when you have outsourced these tasks to other people, it’s still important that you understand the accounting and continue to review the numbers from month to month.

    Get started today

    If what you’ve read sounds great, but still a little overwhelming – never fear. Over at my website I’ve created a customisable P&L template for you – so you can use this immediately for your business! The template contains instructions to guide you. Try it out and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to how knowing how your business is going financially. Happy accounting everyone!

    NOTE: This article is intended as an EDUCATIONAL GUIDE ONLY and is NOT INTENDED to be taken as specific financial advice. Please discuss your business’ financial performance with a qualified accountant, solicitor or financial advisor.

    Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 to run Geometric Skies, her Etsy jewellery business, alongside her jewellery and object design studies at the Design Centre in Sydney. Find Monica at her blog or on Instagram @geometric_skies.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: regular columns | Comments Off