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Now that it's 2015, it's time to upgrade my way of doing business. I remember reading in one of the CAMs, one of the artists featured had found an accounting program which was more arts/crafts/art fair friendly than QuickBooks. Does anyone happen to know which one that was? I am truly tired of how intuitive QuickBooks is *not*!

 

Dammit, Jim! I'm an artist, not an accountant!  ;)

 

Thanks for the input.

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Quicken or quickbooks-you need to tweek it to your needs-Being an artist also means being a bookkeeper-sales rep-chief cook and garbage person.

Some of these tasks are not fun but vital. I have not heard about artist friendly software other than a coton tee shirt.

Mark

 

one last note whatever you learn software wise you will be using ot for long time so pick wisely.

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I have been using Quicken -a highly modifed to my needs catagory wise since the early 90's-My account wanted me to switch to quickbooks about 10 years ago and I convinced her since I knew quicken and had it dialed so well to my needs she let it go. I even bought a mac version and never used it .

Mark

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Guest JBaymore

Once you set up Quicken... it is very simple to use and has all the power that most sole proprietorships (or single person LLCs) might need. The key is setting it up well.

 

best,

 

..............john

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As John says the setup is Key -I went over this with my account on day one but for me I was already doing a huge 17 column book with a pencil ( many may recall what this was some may have never heard of the old book system)

so setting up what I needed was pretty easy as I had already done that with the columns in the book.

Mark

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I think the best advice here is, whatever software you choose, have an accountant set up the initial file, and train you how to use it. When I first became self-employed, Quickbooks looked like it was written in a foreign language. After a few hours spent with my accountant, it was really easy.

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I think the best advice here is, whatever software you choose, have an accountant set up the initial file, and train you how to use it. When I first became self-employed, Quickbooks looked like it was written in a foreign language. After a few hours spent with my accountant, it was really easy.

I called up my friend who's a bookkeeper, and she's coming over this week to set it up and train me. I'm looking forward to having this taken care of!

 

Thanks for the input, everyone!

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As someone who inadvertently uses quickbooks in my career way more than I am qualified (not formally trained at all), I gotta say QB *s*cks* for quantifying important things like "cost of goods sold" for manufactured items. I had to upgrade to the whooppee-do manufacturing/wholesale version a couple of years ago, and still find that it is very difficult to estimate labor + materials when making things. Because I already had the software, I put my "ceramics business" into QB, and find it endlessly difficult to put materials in for COGS. For example, how do you account for clay costs when some part of that 1 lb ball is wiped off as slurry in the throwing process. With proper reclaim, you get it back, but then have the labor to reclaim it. That is really tough to "account" for.

 

But that's the easy part, cause at least it *had* a cost to begin with. Then, you start guessing wildly at how much time it takes not just to make something, but to walk it back and forth to the kiln, fire (clectrical costs + some portion of the kiln fixture cost + wear'n'tear on shelves, etc.), time + wax + glaze materials + glaze time, walk to kiln, repeat, final finish if necessary. That's all the "cost". Then store it somewhere (cost of doing business=easier since you can just put that as rent in expenses), and put it into "inventory", where the cost disappears onto the balance sheet for a while until you sell the dang thing. Oh, are you listing it on Etsy or something? That's also a labor cost per item listed + cost to list + time to write up witty, entrancing description.

 

Ok! You made the sale! Now what? if you did all of that COGS stuff and guessed at half of it, you're now good to go. But if you said (what am I, a bookkeeper or a potter) I'm a potter/ceramic artiste, and make the sale as a sales receipt, fine, but now your inventory is intractably messed up with (-) inventory counts.

 

Oyvay. This is the first year that I've seen QB software people quit trying to say that their software can handle manufacturing tasks such as the one most "makers" have. I personally have no idea how someone could truly assess COGS/manufacturing costs, even with detailed accounting on a spreadsheet. (Mea, do tell.) So, so much of it is a guess, and from my perspective of working in retail, wholesale and manufacturing and doing the bookkeeping for all three, just stick with the guess part.

 

To be clear, I do think it's worth it to make 2-3 "batches" of something and estimate costs (materials, labor, firing expenses, some portion of the fixture used up/kiln, rent, insurance, blah) just to get a rough handle on what it costs to make something. The alchemy of making something out of mud is making value where there was less value. Fine. Then take the sum of the costs and divide by the number of things, and you get some number that approximates the cost of manufacturing. You might run screaming to see how much you are giving away with your "competitive prices".

 

So, the answer to the original question: what is the right software for bookkeeping your artistic business expenses is only Quickbooks/Quicken if you're going to go in with idea that you're going to be guessing at a LOT of costs. High volume producers can more easily assess materials/labor/rent/fixtures because they have so much more data to consider. The rest of us? Dunno. My experience is that at low volume sales estimate your COGS as half of your sales price, but do little test assessments in batches to see if you are even close to the mark. That way you can enter inventory into the system, get it back out of the system, and have your major expenses (rent/insurance/utilities, etc) logged in as expenses whether you sell anything or not. (Alternatively, you can state that your COGS is $0, and put all of your tangible expenses into expenses, but your inventory will be "worth" $0, too. That's likely to mess up your profit in later sales, as you'll be selling something that you made for $0, at whatever the sales price is. Not good.).

 

I'm always interested in being enlightened about bookkeeping. After being audited by the IRS twice, I now have them on speed dial. I agree that this is an opportunity for some software geek to make something for craft manufacturers.

 

M

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drmyrtle,

First of all, I do not track my inventory within Quickbooks. This is another thing I learned from my accountant, that these features are not meant for a business like a one-person pottery studio. Not worth the effort. Honestly, I track my inventory with a spiral notebook and a pen.

COGS and "expenses" are technically different, but barely. Especially for a small business. There are lots of items that can be filed on either side, and it doesn't matter which side you choose because the bottom line ends up the same. In another thread, I stated that my COGS for 2014 was 25%. What I meant was (COGS + Expenses) divided by Gross Sales = 25%. I do not calculate COGS per pot. Again, that level of accounting is not worth the effort. I only track COGS per year. I don't even bother thinking about COGS per month.

When I did The Hourly Earnings Project, I explained which costs I included, and which ones I skipped (because I couldn't quantify them). I was not quite as detailed as you probably wanted me to be. For example, I accounted for clay costs based on the number of pounds X cost per pound, but I did not factor in recycling. I accounted for shipping boxes (because I knew the per item cost) but skipped the packing peanuts and bubble wrap. So my calculations are not as exact as a CFO needs to be, but good enough for me. Good enough to make comparative judgements about wholesale vs. art festival vs. online vs. open houses.  

My pottery business may be considered "big" compared to other pottery businesses, but in relation to businesses in general, a one-person pottery studio is "tiny." This is why I say the amount of accounting you need to know can be learned in a few hours.

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