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Firm Up for Summer

May 07, 2013
http://vimeo.com/31018328

We hear a lot of talk from emerging designers how tough it can be to balance 'creating' with 'business' acumen. In fact, our editor himself (as a freelancer) is tasked with balancing the two elements, so we know from experience just how hard it can be.
On the one hand you want to be designing, making and creating but at the back of your mind is that nagging feeling that you're not entirely sure how to cope with the numbers. Plus, there seems to be a lack of attention to the business side of things within the education system, which does not aid matters.
With this in mind, and the graduation shows heralding the imminent arrival of a new batch of potential creative entrepreneurs, we thought we'd make a little post with a few handy apps, services and websites which might enable SwedishDesign contributors and our visitors to function better as a small creative business operating today.
Things like iZettle have helped to make money transactions easier if you're at a little event or exhibition. Plus Tictail or Shopify are there if you want to make a simple online store. There's also Creative Market if you are selling 'digital' goods or sevices.
So, let's assume that you're using one or two of the services above, or indeed something similar. You're still faced with the task of invoicing, taxation and VAT (or moms) and that's where things get tricky. And it's not a bad thing to admit that you might need help. There are accountants, who are angels in disguise and know more than you or us about how to maximise your income. Yes, they do cost money but we feel it's worth it to save hassle, plus you're also likely to recoup costs further down the line through expenses, pensions and other money-saving hints they can give you. Your local bank's small business advisor can help you as they often have external connections, they'll also be able to help you set yourself up as a company.
There's another scenario which a new designer might encounter. One where you may be in the privileged position in which you're employed but also receiving a commission or two outside of working hours. If this is the case, and the situation is going well, then you may need to start thinking about proper invoicing and tax-contributions (most countries' tax offices have a ceiling limit for how much income from 'hobby' work you can take in before it becomes taxable so check with them if you're unsure). We're not joking when we say that it really is not worth running the risk of being found to have too much black cash in the attic and everyone knows someone with a horror story to tell about a run in with 'the man'.
With this in mind, we've recently hit upon Firmify, a new Swedish venture set up by a small Kalmar-based accountancy firm. It seems to offer a simple comprehensive service for invoicing and doing tax-contributions for the money that comes in. There's also a handy convertor which could help you work out how much you need to be invoicing to take a specific amount out as your paycheque. It's got a little film too so you can see how it works.
Whether you're graduating and starting out or already set up and rolling, there are a host of ways to streamline the business side of what you do. It's readily available and will show potential investors or collaborators that you really do mean business. There's no harm either in seeking advice and much of it is free. Apply a bit of graft now and you'll have more time to create.

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Richard Prime

Keeping you up to date with the goings-on in Sweden's creative landscape.