Fioreme’s first interviewee of its Entrepreneur Series is Colorado native, Katherine Pomerantz. Katherine is the face and name behind the Bookkeeping Artist, a blog and bookkeeping firm that helps artistic entrepreneurs find freedom and profit by changing the way they think and feel about money. Katherine was never a starving artist, although she was a theatrical director and performer for many years. One day, Katherine realized that her own struggles with money were merely a symptom of a greater bad money mindset permeating the creative community. She now champions artistry in business and combats money monsters at www.bookkeepingartist.com. Katherine’s tagline for her business is Championing Artistry in Business. Katherine stated that creative individuals are having an edge in the entrepreneurial world because of the one-of-a-kind nature of their products. The financial expertise she provides merely supports the individuals who already have the heart, originality, and drive to be successful in business.
In this interview, artistic entrepreneurs will learn how to manage their money and learn about the mindset of a “starving artist.” Continue reading below.
Jarquita Brown: You share a lot of information about being an entrepreneur as an artist. What can you let the readers know about the entrepreneurial side of being an artist?
Katherine Pomerantz: Artistry and business go hand in hand. Not only do artists make natural entrepreneurs, but creatives provide an incredibly valuable service. They create beauty, and in doing so they help organize a chaotic world.
Remember, you’re not just a photographer. You’re a historian here to document the most important moment in your client’s life. You don’t sell watercolors. You create attractive treasures to brighten hearths and homes, and you don’t just make handmade jewelry, you create unique and beautiful pieces to magnify the uniqueness and beauty of those who wear them. Hone in on this value, market it, and you’ll have a successful business in no time.
JB: Can you explain the “starving artist” mindset as well?
KP: Of course! I am unique in my insistence that artists make great entrepreneurs. Most people think only of the “Starving Artist” stereotype. Unfortunately, the prevalence of this stereotype damages a lot of lives. As everyone knows, there is not much money within the artistic community. Whether it’s dancing, sculpting, or photography, you choose art because you love it, not because you are expecting to get rich.
The “Starving Artist” mindset tells you that art and business don’t go together. “True” artists accept this inevitability. They live only for the now and nobly suffer for the sake of their creation.
JB: How did you get into bookkeeping, and what are some things Fioreme readers and up-and-coming artists can learn from you?
KP: After college I freelanced as a theatrical director and performer for many years. It was awesome, but it was also tough to have a consistent income. When my husband therefore decided to go back to school for his PhD, I decided it was time for a real job. I fell victim to the very money monsters I combat today. I left the theatre and took my first official bookkeeping position. It was safe, stable, and completely different from the life I had previously lived.
Fortunately, I discovered a new passion. As a bookkeeper, I learned about business, and I met passionate, free-spirited entrepreneurs who had achieved great success. I realized the only difference between these entrepreneurs and the artistic community I left behind was their outlook on money.
Artis don’t care, don’t know, and don’t want to think about money, yet their financial positions worries them constantly. Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, came face to face with money through good bookkeeping. They dealt with money everyday, and yet financial worry rarely harassed them. These successful entrepreneurs realized that money isn’t some mysterious force beyond their control. rather, money is a tool you can use to build your dream lifestyle.
I decided to take on entrepreneurship for myself, and I opened my own bookkeeping firm. I now use my bookkeeping skills to the creative community that I love.
JB: What type of services do you provide at your bookkeeping firm?
KP: I’m a bookkeeper and money mentor for artistic entrepreneurs. I dig deep into your financial information to create 90 Day Action Plans & Profit Strategy. I also identify potential problem spots and areas for growth. Together, clients and I can work on budgeting, financial forecasting, taxes, and pricing your goods and services.
JB: I have talked with several new artists that are designers, photographers, painters, writers, etctera, and most of them are still trying to figure out how to get into the entrepreneurial side of their startups, how to manage their money, how to stay organized, and how to market their businesses. What are some tips or advice you can provide these artists so their business can run more smoothly?
KP: Businesses with plenty of revenue and smart, hardworking owners can still struggle to pay the bills. Better bookkeeping can fix that. I recently encountered a man who was not correctly tracking the labor costs of his service-based business. His prices were too low as a result as he spent months losing money with every sale he made. Too many business owners do the same. They can tell they don’t have money in the bank, but they don’t know why. They are stuck thinking more sales and more revenue will fix the problem so they work like maniacs, invest too much time and money in a fancy marketing plan and simply dig the hole deeper.
I’ve seen many artistic entrepreneurs prove time and again that you do not need to go to business school to be successful. You simply need to be well organized and unafraid to face your money. With a good bookkeeping system, you will have all the information you need to make smart business decisions.
Tracking your total expenses and sales every month is a good start, but if you truly want your business to be successful you need to dig deeper. Start organizing everything by the individual job, service, or product type.
Understand the exact cost it takes to produce that product or service from start to finish, including the amount of time you personally spend of each item.
Once you start tracking revenue and expenses by product type, your data will be more useful. Instead of looking at a total number and wondering how you can make your profits bigger, you can exactly identify which product or service is costing you the most money.
If this does not describe you as a business owner or you’re having a hard time keeping up with your bookkeeping, that’s a sign your system needs improvement. Don’t be afraid to invest in your bookkeeping process! There are now incredible accounting software that can do 80% of your bookkeeping for you – save digital copies of receipts, records sales, generate expense reports, track sales tax, you name it! You can even hire an expert to do a systems audit for you, recommend the appropriate software, and get your bookkeeping back on track.
JB: Why do you think it is important for small business owners to have a bookkeeper? What are some characteristics a good bookkeeper must possess?
KP: Good bookkeeping is a good business. I cannot stress that enough. You need good bookkeeping for your business to thrive. Because once your financial reports and systems are in place, then you can start making the big decisions. You can look at sales history. You can look at cost of goods. You can look at profit margins and pinpoint the exact area that’s keeping you from your income goals.
Bookkeeping is vital, but it is not vital you do the bookkeeping yourself. Remember, as a business owner your time is immensely and uniquely valuable. You are the face of the company. You must therefore go out and engage your audience. You decide your business’ future, so you must be involved in new product development. You need to direct your marketing team. You have to motivate your sales force. You have a lot on your plate.
A great bookkeeper doesn’t stop at data entry. They become part of your team. They help guide you through financial turmoil and encourage growth and profit.
JB: As a money mentor and business owner, can you give any information on how to get investors to invest in small businesses?
KP: A business budget will be one of the first things any potential investor asks for. This is therefore one area in which you can WOW them even if you’re starting at absolute zero.
Investors want to see your budget because a lot of thought and planning goes into an effective one. Unfortunately, very few businesses are taught the importance of a good budget and simply slap something together. Banks and investors see dozens of budgets every year, however, and they can spot the difference between a well-reasoned business plan and a shot in the dark, and that’s what your budget ultimately is, your business plan expressed in cold, hard numbers.
JB: What other kind of information can you give to teach the readers about the entrepreneurial side of being an artist?
KP: I am very fond of saying this, artists make natural entrepreneurs. No two groups of people are as alike in terms of their dreams and personalities. You do not have to work in a particular field to be an artist. An artist is simply someone who dreams of a better future. That’s why they’re driven to create. They want to leave the world a more beautiful place after they’re gone.
Artists are also extremely hardworking and passionate. They are used to scrimping and saving as they chase their dream. Most important of all, they are used to the world telling them their dream isn’t good enough. They are used to hearing the word no.
Everything about artists makes them perfect candidates for entrepreneurship. After all, nothing says you believe in a better future than investing in a new business. What’s more, heart, discipline, and an unwillingness to take no for an answer are critical characteristics in a business owner.
JB: Thank you so much Katherine for this information.
KP: I hope I showed everyone that this money stuff is the least scary part of being in business. You can head over to my blog or call me anytime if you have any questions about that. No, the most important thing is that you’ve got the creativity and the resilience of an artist. If you can hold onto that, there are plenty of people who, like me, will champion your success.
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