Best Productivity Tips For Finance Professionals In Creative Business

Are you a creator who runs your own business? Or are you dreaming of joining the dynamic world of the creative economy, turning your ideas into a solid career? 

The thought of being able to pursue your passion and above all, make a living from it sounds indeed intriguing, but being self-employed has never been a rosy path for even the most enthusiastic and determined people. Many have been taking on the challenge only to find out that there is too much on their plate, and their creative processes are interrupted by the overwhelming amount of administrative work, including raising business funds, planning and allocating your budget, and accounting. 

Yes, financial management matters, no matter what kind of business you are in and however you would like to prioritize your creation. It also goes without saying that good financial management requires productivity, in both how it is productively practiced and contributes to productive outcomes of the business. This article provides useful tips on how to do finances with efficiency, so you will never have to slow down at your creative work.

What is productivity? And why is it important for your business?

Before digging in the ways to improve your financial management performance, it is necessary to be clear about the meaning of productivity in this context. Does it mean less time and effort are spent in completing one product, thus increasing the number of products created in a specific amount of time as we normally understand it? If this is the case, then what counts as a complete product? Should product quantity or quality be of more concern when we deal with raising productivity? 

You may or may not consider these rather theoretical questions before, but probably on some occasions you have found yourself snowed under with work, trying to multitask to save time but felt nothing is done at the end of the day. At times you may have difficulties in overcoming procrastination because it seems impossible to tackle any task without knowing the full list of what ought to be done and in which order. It is just like you are going to prepare a complicated dish but do not know the required ingredients or the cooking steps, so you eventually give up and seek easier options such as eating out or online delivery. These alternatives work well as short-term solutions, however, they often come at a cost (unless you can ask someone to do the cooking for you voluntarily for free!) that is not friendly to those with limited budgets.

Working productively, therefore, means you have to go through all the possible solutions in order to balance out the cost – benefit scale, that is, to come up with “an ultimate recipe” which can help you make use of your existing resources for business development. Moreover, it is through this process of weighing options that you can stay focused on the set goals while keeping good eyes on the current situation. Everything is in check, so you will also have better chances of successfully handling unexpected events and investing in your business system to improve the value of your products.

Creative businesses and the role of financial management

For creative business owners, the range of their products seems endless. Art-based enterprises, including art workshops, music publishers, companies working in the fields of film, design and architecture are among the first that may come across our mind. 

Nowadays, in the era of technology, creation can take various forms and shapes, from the computer software that is being used for writing this article to several multimedia applications which are becoming essential in everyday communication. Although the boundaries of creative businesses have been broadened than ever before, what they have in common is that they create products on the basis of intellectual capital.

At first, it may be hard to imagine the link between creative work and financial management if you associate the former with innovative, out-of-the-box thinking and the latter with matter-of-fact figures that spare little room for any adventurous idea. Here we are not implying that a talented artist cannot have a niche for numbers or vice versa (which is a huge misunderstanding because many of them are), but it is equally true that keeping track of income and expenditure, cash flow, and balance sheet is not normally one’s priority when creative time alone seems insufficient. Still, no one can deny the significance of good finance managing practices in any business, and creative corporations or even individuals are no exception.

First, it always helps to have a realistic picture of your business performance, and an understanding of the financial situation is crucial in this regard. Is your business making good profits? When and where is the money going in and out? What is the status quo of your enterprise in terms of assets and liabilities? Such questions should be asked frequently and the answers are to be sought carefully if the managers want their business to be sustainable.

 Working for passion is one thing, but creative business owners may need to keep their feet on the ground when it comes to finances. Individual artists and designers who run their own businesses, start-ups, or small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) which can’t afford a team of financial professionals ought to look even closer into monetary matters, making sure that all the costs needed to create their products are calculated and taken into account. Don’t overlook any unpaid labor or external subsidies involved in the production process if you want to keep things in order or simply to charge the right price for your creation.

Second, proper financial management is an essential factor to attract investment. There is no doubt that investors want to make sure their money is in good hands and their trust will have certain rewards in return, be it financially, socially or both. One of the most straightforward ways to prove the profitability of your business (or at least, its potential) is to provide investors with a well-planned financial statement which shows how you are managing your budget to make a profit. In the case of digital fund-raising financed by crowd or fans that are being used by many creative businesses at present, it is even more important to convince the investors – future customers that you are making good use of their support to create quality products.

5 Tips on productive financial management 

Now is the time for us to see financial management from a more ‘creative’ perspective. What can be done to innovate unproductive accounting practices that result in loss of time, money, and energy? The following 5 productivity tips are basic steps that any creative business can apply.

1. Use time wisely

Freelance artists or business managers, accountants or chief finance officials (CFOs), regardless of your position and workload, you are equal before time. Some people try to multitask to get ahead in the race against time while others take time to figure out their priorities – what urgent and important jobs they should do first and in what order. Do you see yourself in either type? Have you ever thought that you can save a lot of time by spending time on planning? Start with making your daily schedule which focuses on critical work items and seriously stick to it, you will see a whole difference in how setting a time limit for yourself can improve productivity. Self-reward when necessary, but also don’t go easy on yourself if the ‘deadlines’ are missed. 

2. Teamwork

Humans are the capital of creative businesses, and this is true in the case of financial professionals as well. The ideal is that everyone in the team should be building their capability over time and establish effective communication that enables them to exchange ideas and cooperate with each other to complete a task. However, in reality, it may be just as important to delegate because no one can handle everything at once. Rather than sacrifice your time to answer all the clients’ email or meticulously classify receipts and invoices, again, you’d better do high-priority tasks such as writing a good audit report or double check on the calculations and collected data for your financial plan.

3. Optimize tools

Financial and accounting platforms and tools have been introduced and utilized in recent years to free up labor wasted on repetitive, time-consuming tasks in financial processes. Far gone are the days when accountants had to manually input and categorize data since digital technologies and automation have been transforming the way things used to be operated, faster and with fewer errors. But that doesn’t mean there is no room for boosting productivity. In order to take full advantage of the existing tools, the key lies in developing the skills and knowledge of their users – financial staff. It will be such a waste if they aren’t aware of all the functions of the softwares they are using or don’t keep up with the updated features that can help them work more productively. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power”, learning to become an expert in your field and you won’t have to worry about being replaced by new technologies!

4. Embrace change 

Enhanced productivity is the result of changes, not only in terms of implemented methods but also about adopting a forward-thinking attitude that welcomes innovations. As financial professionals, are you curious enough to question how things work the way they do? Are you willing to risk breaking down the routine to adopt a new approach which may increase efficiency but is likely to cause disruptions to the current system? If the answers to these above questions are ‘yes’, then you are having the right mindset to initiate changes and take on the challenges that follow. The reward for those who are ready to embrace changes is definitely worth all the effort. And remember that you are not alone in this transformative process. For example, receipt scanning and expense tracking services offered by Shoeboxed can relieve your burden of keeping and sorting out tons of paper bills, saving a great deal of time when there is a need to retrieve and organize data. Shoeboxed has different plans to cater for enterprises of all sizes, so this is perfect for start-up creative businesses which are often run by a small number of people with little accounting experience.

5. Experiment

How can you know which part of the financial system and processes need to improve its productivity? What might be the productivity techniques that are suitable for your business? Just following the trend and applying new tools randomly before thoroughly examining their potential effects and preparing for necessary interventions may lead to counterproductive results. But even the most cautious minds can’t foresee all scenarios, and despite that, we shall continue to learn from failures, test and retest available productivity solutions. In this long-run experiment, it is advisable that every detail in the workflow be kept record of so that important information is not going to be lost in the transition. Moreover, by doing so, it will be easier to identify the gaps in the system where efficiency can be further improved to optimize workflows, raising overall business performance. With Shoeboxed, you can experience all our amazing features such as digitizing data from receipts and business cards, or creating customized expense reports for free in one month before making your choice. See more on our website


Creative businesses and other enterprises alike can enjoy tremendous benefits from productivity management that facilitates strategy execution and cost – profit management. Financial professionals, thus, should also play an active role in making financial functions and processes more time and cost effective. Productive financial management practices can start with 5 basic tips which have been discussed above: Use time wisely, Teamwork, Optimize tools, Embrace changes, and Experiment. 

Has any point mentioned in these tips been on your mind lately? Which tips are you interested in or have applied in your business? Share with us your thoughts and stories in the comment ??

Shave 5 Hours Off Your Work Week with These 7 Productivity Tips

While these 7 productivity tips may not shave your work week down to a mere 4 hours (a la Timothy Ferriss), they will help you significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete everyday tasks.

The key to achieving powerful productivity is to work smarter, not harder.

While these 7 productivity tips may not shave your work week down to a mere 4 hours (a la Tim Ferriss), they will help you significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete everyday tasks.

1. Prioritize your goals

You probably have a monster to-do list, but let’s be honest – you’re not going to get it all done today. You might not even finish it this week.

Choose one or two items that you’d like to finish today, and forget about the rest of the list. By focusing on just a few key items, you’re more likely to finish them fast without getting overwhelmed. You can then move on to the next important item on your list, but only if you have time.

2. Stop answering emails

Are you email communications like a series of thank you cards that never end?

“Got the report, will get edits to you ASAP.”

“Ok, thanks!”

“You’re welcome!”

Those last two responses, while polite, are wasted time. Send five or 10 emails like that each day and you’ve already wasted 30 minutes of your day.

If you’re a notorious “thanker,” send a single email to your colleagues letting them know that from now on, you’ll only respond if absolutely necessary, and that if they don’t hear from you, they can assume their message went through and everything is good on your end.

3. Turn off sound notifications

Ding! Facebook notification.

Ring! New email messages.

Chirp! Someone favorited your tweet.

It’s difficult enough to concentrate on work under the best of circumstances, but it’s practically impossible when you’re constantly distracted by interruptions.

Turn your phone on silent, and turn the sound off on your computer. Set aside specific times to check email, check social accounts, and make phone calls. If it’s not your set “Facebook time,” then hands off and no checking allowed!

4. Take frequent breaks

Taking a break every two hours is good for your brain and increases productivity. Go for a walk, grab a snack, or make a personal call. Stepping away from your work will give your brain a chance to hit the refresh button, and you’ll come back rejuvenated with new ideas.

5. Stick to a pre-set end time

Choose a set time to end your work day and stick to it. This time may fluctuate from week to week, and even day to day, but whatever time you choose, commit to it and see it through.

If you don’t, you’re sure to spend hours working late each day, because there will always be just “one more thing” you’ll want to get done.

6. Set aside daily “scanning time”

If you let receipts and papers build up over weeks and months, you’ll be faced with some serious scanning time and an outdated Shoeboxed account. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to scan any receipts that have accumulated. This will also save you tons of time (and money) during tax season.

7. Get less done

Remember that when you die, your inbox won’t be empty! Do you really need to get as much done as you think you do? Where is this pressure to get more done coming from – your boss, your colleagues, or yourself?

When you ask the overachiever in you to step aside, you cultivate a work-life balance that will only improve your overall productivity when running your business.

What would you do with an extra 5 hours of free time each week? What are your favorite productivity tips?

Time Management Tips for Thriving SMBs

Mastering the art of time management can make or break your small business. Whether your challenge lies in finding enough hours in the day to get it all done, or in strategically delegating tasks to others, this guide will help you get more done without losing your mind.

Mastering the fine art of time management can make or break your small business. Whether your challenge lies in finding enough hours in the day to get it all done, or in strategically delegating tasks to subcontractors and employees, the following guide will help you get more done without losing your mind.

1. Accept the Inbox

Successful time management begins by giving up the false notion that you can somehow get it all done if you just work hard enough.

The truth is that you’re never going to get it all done – and neither is anyone else! No one dies with an empty inbox, and realizing that is actually a key component to getting more done.

Once you stop stressing about finishing everything, and realize that a new project or task will always take its place, you can begin to relax and enjoy the present moment. And the more present and focused you are, the less time each individual task is going to take because you are giving it your full, undivided attention.

2. Learn to Differentiate

Learn the difference between clock time and real time when scheduling your day. There is a difference between absolute time and mental time, as well as a difference between how long you think things may take, and how long things actually take.

While clock time is absolute – an hour is always 60 minutes, no more, no less – “real time” or mental time can shift depending on what’s happening that particular day. That means that your attitude and mental perceptions can color how fast or slow the day seems to be going, how much time it feels like you have to complete a particular task, and how stressed or relaxed you feel while carrying it out.

When cultivating time management skills, focus your energies on navigating the waters of real time. Your thoughts and perceptions have a much more powerful impact on the way you experience time than any clock ever could. Worry less about minute to minute productivity, and focus instead on the way you’re thinking about each task that needs completing.

3. Track your Time

Time management is all about developing an intimate understanding of how you spend your day, minute to minute.

Start by tracking how long things take you, keeping detailed records for at least a week. You could even use a time tracking app, many of which include the ability to create specific notes about how you’re spending each minute.

Think of time tracking like starting a new exercise regimen or food program. Only by getting crystal clear about your current habits will you be able to make changes to those habits. You’ll be surprised at how long things actually take you once you begin to investigate your current schedule. (“Whoa! I spent how long checking my email?”)

Once you’ve tracked your time for a week, create a graph or chart to help you visualize where you’re spending the majority of your time and where you can make adjustments.

time-management-24. Schedule Non-Activities

Most people think about time management in terms of activities – finishing projects, writing emails, creating marketing materials and attending meetings. However, time must also be scheduled for “non-activities” such as brainstorming, impromptu conversations with colleagues, and yes, even good old fashioned thinking.

But how can you anticipate how much time you’ll spend or need to spend thinking every day?

After tracking your time for a week, you should have a strong idea of how much of your day is typically dedicated to non-activities. If you find that your non-activity number is low when compared with time spent completing tangible activities, you may actually need to increase your downtime.

Allowing yourself ample time to prepare for and decompress after activities helps you to remain focused during said activities, thus decreasing the overall amount of time each task takes to complete.

For example, if you have a blog post to write, you might spend a third of your time brainstorming, a third researching and a third doing the actual writing. Without the brainstorming element, you’ll be diving into your project without any direction and are likely to need more time to complete it than you would had you mentally prepared.

It’s also important to allow yourself to decompress between activities. Rushing from task to task and checking off to-dos like a frantic Energizer Bunny is a surefire way to burn out and drastically reduce the quality of your work. It’s better to get less done and get it done well, than to complete everything under the sun in a sub-par fashion.

5. Go Above and Beyond

Once you’ve tracked your time and determined what you need to complete a particular task, over-schedule yourself. Think of yourself like that one client of yours who has seriously turned chatting into an Olympic sport. Just as you allow some extra time (okay, a lot of extra time)  for his conference calls, give yourself plenty of time to complete each and every task, even the ones that are usually quick and easy.

This time management trick ensures that you’ll never feel behind schedule, and will most likely be ahead of the game throughout the day. Because you’ve accounted for the inevitably of interruptions, unforeseen events and the ups and downs of your own energy levels, you’ll be able to meet the goals of each day without feeling stressed.

Being on top of your to-do list will also create positive feelings and make you feel more productive, which in turn will help you get more done.