Weeknote 315

December 3rd to 9th

The holidays are just around the corner, so we are trying to finish some (sub-)projects before we call it a year. Christophe mainly worked on Wapato, David familiarized himself with re:publica and I did some last changes for Kootenay. We also talked a lot to old and new clients about projects in 2012. Seems like the new year will start even busier than the this one ends.

Because I didn't have that much project work to do, I tried to get ahead of some operational matters. One thing we really suck at is taking care of our cash flow. It always works out somehow, but I wouldn't say we've got it under control. So I took some time to test out a few software products for cash flow projections. I ended using Pulse (happy so far, but if you got any other suggestions, please share in the comments). I added all our financial data, unpaid invoices, regular expenses etc. and I have to admit, I got a thrill at looking at the numbers. It felt pretty satisfying to actually see (not just guessing) how much money we can expect to have in February. I even had some fun playing with the numbers and checking out different scenarios: what happens if clients X pays 3 weeks later, how does it effect our cash flow if we buy new monitors and chairs in January...

Actually, I'm a bit embarrassed to talk about this. Someone running a business should have an exact idea about his/her finances. But I also know that a lot of designers have similar problems. Being a good designer doesn't make you a good business man.

On the first glance it seems obvious: designers are visual people, they don't think in numbers. That's a cliché of course, one that is probably cultivated more by designers than non-designers. It's often used as an excuse to suck at business. As if you would loose credibility among your peers if you know a few things about finances.

For a long time I had an aversion for all things economic as well. All that mattered was producing great work and becoming a better designer. All the focus was on design itself.

This focus hasn't changed. But we are now at a point where we have to improve and develop other aspects of the studio to raise the bar. Like building a great team, nurturing a culture, managing bigger projects, making better sales – and keeping a sound financial foundation.

I'm getting more and more interested in precious as a company than just our creative output. Actually I started to think of precious as our biggest and most ambitious design project. And with that in mind, looking at a projection of cash reserves can a beautiful thing, even if it's just a table with numbers.

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