Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Business Process, Ad Nauseum

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Mad World" covered by Gary Jules on iTunes (just one more time and then I'll put it away for something perkier). I spent the entire damn day yesterday listening to it and the rest of the cd Ren sent me awhile ago. It is entitled "Melancholy" for a reason. Another friend used the term "June Gloom" to me in a chat midday and it was so appropriate. Yet another another cher ami daydreamed with me about running off to a better place to live (maybe Spain) and opening a *really good* B&B with a restaurant (he'd be the chef). But that was all yesterday. I have shaken it all off and Started My Day Right (thanks, Dave). Now I have afterglow coffee (TMI!), my laptop in the sky chair, and birds twittering and squirrels and chipmunks romping. Does it get better than this?

Today deserves a serious post as I slog through business technology and figure out where to drive my glass bus (so to speak) next. Sophie is here (my intern) and she is doing her internship for a business college so, as a responsible intern mentor, I am focusing on the aspects of Siyeh Studio that have to do with business right now. That means instead of living the carefree bohemian glass artist life and making one beautiful thing after another in a kiln all day I am pooping around with a computer.

I am designing a Filemaker Pro database for tracking customers, orders and products (and learning Filemaker Pro in the process). I am redesigning my website with Dreamweaver (and learning Dreamweaver in the process). I am creating an online catalog/store at (and learning their web-based interface AND learning how to photograph and edit my work with iPhoto in the process). And finally I am trying desperately to create a catalog on cd, one that shows all of my work--something I am having difficulty getting to do in a manageable way--to mail to anyone who asks me for information about my products (and downloading, learning and evaluating scores of piss-poor windows-based catalog apps in the process). Can you see why I might be gloomy? With all this learn-the-software crap there is very little finishing-the-project gratification going on. At this rate it's going to take an entire summer of hunching over the computer before I get ANYTHING done... not a pleasant prospect.

And it begs the question, how much do I really need to do and how much am I doing in a knee-jerk reaction to what I THINK a successful business needs? I am a pretty smart mammal so I think I am more or less on track, but maybe my (lack of) plan could use some tweaking. First, the database. Clearly my current process is broken because it's too easy for me to make mistakes on my orders. I also have no way to do any kind of analysis of how my business is doing--how much is it growing, am I covering my expenses and making a profit that will appropriately provide for my retirement, any of a thousand questions I might want answered from the data I already collect. The first of the two issues--mistakes on the orders--is paramount to fix. But analysis of data... how necessary is that really to a business my size, a business of one? I have Quickbooks and I use it to track expenses and income. Period. no invoicing, nothing else. Because it doesn't do everything I want, and I because I resent the way it does some things, I refuse to use it any more than my accountant says I must.

And the morning has passed and I am still not through the questions and on to the answers--much less on to the filling the kiln, shipping orders, cleaning out the studio, etc. I am going to have to revisit the issue tomorrow. Maybe I'll actually be able to flow out what I do so that I can figure out what I need to fix/get to be able to do what I need to do... capiche?


ren said...

dude, i am totally mixing you a "HAPPY HAPPY" cd today. jeez, stop listening to that other one.

and you have just convinced me that i don't want to go into business for myself...yeesh. good luck!

Bill Paley said...

Imagine your joy as the birdies sing, the squirrels gambol, and the children shreik with joy while you continue to beat your brains out with the dense prose of computer software documentation. Lovely.

Oh, and I'm glad you partook of my best cure for depression.