Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Slippage

In warrior mode this morning, I drink my coffee from the Starbucks stainless travel mug with the leather thingie-in-the-middle-to-keep-your-hands-from-getting-burned (or to keep you from dropping it) and a fliptop lid. I do this because I took Jessie to school this morning prepared (as the head of the school’s Buildings and Grounds Committee) to have a long meeting with the Director over school improvements. That is an activity I cannot face without coffee. Especially after I stayed up late last night to finish “The Time Traveler’s Wife”. The more stressed and behind I get, the more I read to escape from my stress. It works in that I have less stress at any given moment in time, but it fails in that I get less done and as a result create more stress overall. But the Director wasn’t in this morning so I came home and will write up this entry, communicate with everyone through email, and get back to the bane of my life: the annual finances.

Profitability was a thread in the topic yesterday. And profitability hinges in large part on one’s ability to accurately gauge the amount of time any given task—either revenue-generating or non revenue-generating—is going to take. A few days ago I optimistically slated the wrangling of the annual financial paperwork to one day, maybe two. I am on day four. The website languishes and the dust bunnies romp happily in the studio. I am grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Dave casually throws out “Have fun, do much glass today” as he is getting ready to leave for work and I snarl back that I am going to have to spend the entire day on the computer again. He gives me a look and says, “Maybe you should do some glass”. I know what this means. I have the look of a dangerously unstable junkie in need of a fix and he would just as soon I had that fix before he got home tonight.

So why have I slipped so badly? I would like to blame it all on the software (stupid Quickbooks: like I should have to care about the difference between a credit and a debit and where did all those sales tax entries for Chicago go?), or the time I spend writing here or reading there, but really, it is that recordkeeping is a completely underestimated task in a business. It is something that must be done regularly, takes a not inconsiderable amount of time, is non revenue-generating, and for most people is about as much fun as a root canal. Why do so many small businesses fail? (And make no mistake about it, being an artisan for a living very much entails running a small business.) They fail because of the high percentage of non revenue-generating activities not covered by the ones that do bring in money. If I have to spend the day futzing around with Quickbooks… again… I will not get any glass done today.

Notice the entire preoccupation here with profit and profitability: That is what several days of bookkeeping do to me. Back to yesterday’s post: “Why do we do what we do?” I put up with the recordkeeping in order to be a responsible business owner. I am a responsible business owner so I can keep on generating revenue which allows me to buy more glass. I buy raw glass so I can make it into something else. When I make something and overcome the technical challenges between my vision and the reality of the raw glass, and then I hold the finished piece in my hands, it gives me peace, soothes my soul and satisfies me. I WILL get the paperwork done this morning, and I WILL get into the studio this afternoon, and the dust bunnies be DAMNED. They can romp and gambol at my feet and I will ignore them. I am going to fire up the kiln and MAKE something today.

1 comment:

Bill Paley said...

Nice bunnies. Aren't the bunnies cute? Much cuter than the ferrets, and less smelly, though the dust bunnies make me sneeze.

One of the reasons that I never considered opening my own medical practice is because I'm really bad at dealing with the non-revenue generating paperwork that I'd have to do if I was the boss. Even not being the boss, I have dozens of pages of non-revenue generating paperwork to do a week, entailing a couple of hours of work each week. If I left it all until the end of the year (and I can't, much of it has a two week deadline) it would amount to over a hundred hours of unpaid work, and at 8 hours a day, that would add up to a lot of wasted time.

I feel for you on that subject...