This may come as a surprise to you if you know me, but… I didn’t start my own home-based craft business so that I could do my own accounting. I KNOW.
And I have to say that while this started out as just sort of a rant, it’s getting… long. Really long. I might wind up breaking it up into two posts. Maybe even three. And again, while it kind of started as a rant, as I write… it’s turning more into a pretty informative post about accounting and inventory systems for small craft businesses. So don’t worry if you’re reading this as one of my friends and you kind of zone out on it!
LET’S GET TO IT.
When I first started HaldeCraft in 2010, I used a program that… I think it was called “Outright”? It did exactly what I needed; imported information from things that sold, imported information from things I bought, synced with my online bank so that everything was automagic, gave me reports that were useful as far as what I’m spending (dividing things up into categories as I needed them to file taxes, ie, cogs, postage, and most importantly, it spit out a Schedule C for the sucker – I mean, accountant – who did our taxes. (It reports loss or income, depending, for sole proprietor businesses.)
Then Outright got bought by GoDaddy, and there were a few changes. I seem to recall that it either stopped syncing with my bank, or with PayPal, I forget which… but the big reason I wanted to leave was they were GoDaddy. I’m not some big multi-billion dollar business that can afford to drop thousands a month in donations to organizations they like, but… I can put my money where my mouth is, as much as I can. Why would I ask people to spend their money on me if I’m going to turn around an spend it on something undeserving or problematic? If there was something else out there that would do the things I needed…? I’d change.
(Why didn’t I use Quickbooks, or some other easily found program that lots of people/companies use? Regular Quickbooks didn’t give a Schedule C. Quickbooks Self-Employed would, but at the time it was something like $100/month, and that’s way too rich for my blood. Even with how much I want a Schedule C.)
Enter, my friend Anne, who messaged me after a blog post I wrote complaining about this very thing, in… 2017? 2018? And she said “hey, I just saw this program called Craftybase, I don’t know if that would help you…?
And it did! Did what I needed – more, actually, including some stuff I didn’t realize would be useful – and was a small company, and was specifically made for crafters/artists/makers and their unique needs for tracking stuff. And the reports, y’all! I’ll get more into exactly what you can spit out a report for later, but suffice to say that if there’s info you’d like to see in a chart, Craftybase can get it for you.
I’m not…. not a great accountant. I can do it, numbers are just numbers and it’s all just adding and subtracting and nothing lies, you know if you don’t come up with what you think you should come up with that something has gone wrong somewhere. But I just haaaaaaaaaaate taking the time to do it. When I was young and had one bank account and you kept that shit in your check register and always knew how much money you had… that was easy. But as I got older, and bought a house, and some things were online, and some weren’t, and then the things that were online finally came online but it seemed like no part of what you had to do online talked easily with any other part so you wound up printing shit out and then typing it into a different program and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. And my attitude with HaldeCraft (for better or for worse) has been “don’t take out any debt” and “if you need a thing for work and you have the money, buy it, otherwise, don’t buy it, because see not going into debt.” And OK so I’m not making sweet craft money hand over fist, but… I’ve also been doing this for almost 13 years and I’m not in debt. Everything I need for HaldeCraft, I pay for outright, when I need it. So even though part of me feels like “you could be doing a more businessy job of it!” I also feel like “well, doing something right, still here, so….”
Plus, part of me not liking to do paperworky type things falls into taxes. Taxes give me mental hives. So Tim always did the taxes. Which meant I had to get him a copy of my Schedule C so that he could start on the taxes. And because I don’t like to do data entry, I’d almost always wait until December to start entering everything and reconciling it, which meant come January 1st he’d start asking “so do you have that tax stuff ready for me yet?” and I’d rush through it as fast as I could to get it all to him. I knew, with Craftybase, that there was a lot, A LOT, that I wasn’t using, just because I never seemed to have the time to dig into it. I’d try to dig into it, but it wouldn’t make sense, and Tim asking me every couple of days if I was done yet, and …. the whole thing was just stressful. I could tell with Craftybase that there were things I wasn’t doing, that would take time to set up, and once I set them up a lot of things would be easier, but it seemed like I was always spending so much time catching up, I never had time/energy/mental bandwidth to get ahead.
Let’s see if I can try to explain what happens with Craftybase. The things it syncs with my online website, are sales. Not inventory changes, like when I go into the back end of the website and add things back in that I’m restocking… just the sales. So if I make a New Thing in Shopify, it doesn’t show up as a thing in Craftybase until the first time it sells. Then it tells me that I have a negative quantity of whatever it was, so what would I like to do about that negative quantity?
Put a pin in that for a second.
One of the things I have to enter manually, are the things that I buy – supplies, etc. Craftybase calls those “Materials.” My bank is … well, my bank doesn’t like to talk to other programs, so it doesn’t export, like, the check register. So I have a folder by my computer called “TO BE ENTERED” and into it I put all the invoices that get sent to me when I order supplies (materials). On years that … weren’t last year … I go through one weekend a month and enter everything that I bought — what I bought, where I bought it from, how much it cost, whether there was tax or shipping or whatever. Categorize it if it was a tool, or a material, or a dinner, or gas/lodging for traveling for shows… I have to manually make a listing in Craftybase for everything I buy. Some of those are relatively easy (once I figured it out). Like, I have a listing called “Glaze (various)” and I put all of the glaze I order into that material listing, because to try to make an individual listing for each individual color would be… well, you’ll see in a minute why that’s hard.
But I don’t sell materials. I sell products. So hhen in Craftybase, when you sell something on your online shop and it syncs over, and you get that automagically generated listing for a Product… you can then associate materials with products. You can tell it “Oh, okay, so I sold an incense burner; that took x-ounces of clay and x-ounces of glaze, and approximately x-time of active making; so I’m going to assign those materials to this product.” Then it automatically deducts that material from what you’ve put in as you have as a total (when you enter your materials as you purchase them), and it assigns it to the product in question.
You can do this one at a time, if you’re making one of a kind things… or you can write a “recipe” for repeatable things, and then on the Product page, assign a particular recipe to the item, so that Craftybase knows every time you make something, you are using those exact materials. Setting up recipes is very time consuming. I tried to do it at first, realized that I did not have the time (because I needed to get Tim my Schedule C) and sort of … gave up. Just typed in everything I was using as I went through looking for Products that I had sold that Craftybase didn’t think I’d used anything to make.
Then last year happened, which actually started in 2021, and I got behind in EVERYTHING. I’m just now in this last week sitting down to enter all my shit from 2022. I … I don’t remember entering 2021 stuff… it’s in there, so I must have done it either the tail end of the time Tim was in the hospital or right after he died. And I did my taxes because y’all know how scared I was to call the tax guy and tell him Tim had died and here I am a fifty-year-old-woman doing my own taxes for the first time in about twenty years, and ugh (!!!). But I think I must have done them as fast and as “well hopefully this is right” as possible.
So this year, I’m doing things a little differently. Taking time, even if I don’t think I have it. I’ll get more into that on my next post about this.