Stefan G. Bucher is a brilliant creative human that likes to play with Monsters. He spoke at my TEDxAmericanRiviera event.
He also designed our closing video to inform our 10/10/10 attendees about our 11/11/11 event.
Can Your Accountant Boost Your Creativity? FORM 344EZ
Whenever I give talks about creativity and design the Q&A usually includes the question, “What’s your advice for making the work better?” People are always surprised when I tell them that the best way to make better creative work is getting a great accountant.
Creative professionals — and solo practitioners in particular — have long cultivated the image of operating on another plane. We do it both to impress clients with our otherness and to duke it out amongst each other. “If you have time to be interested in numbers, you’re not working hard enough at your art!” Obviously, this is problematic because it makes us look silly, and because it doesn’t actually work that way.
One of the best things that ever happened to my creative work was being introduced to my accountant 17 years ago. Bill Eckenrod is a partner at Hutchinson & Bloodgood LLP. He usually handles large corporate clients. He took me on based on the recommendation of an old family friend, and I suspect that I’m sort of a fun little palate cleanser for him each year. That’s just fine, because I love the man, and however I get to benefit from his help is fine by me.
At the very beginning of my professional career here in the United States, Bill set me up with a great accounting toolkit. I’ve seen a lot of my colleagues struggle with tricky databases and billing software and all kinds of accounting hassles. I keep one credit card that’s dedicated exclusively to business expenses, and for business expenses I never pay cash. I have a clever little spreadsheet my accountant put together for me that records my income and my expenses and lets me handle payroll in minutes. I compose my invoices in Adobe InDesign. It couldn’t be easier.
At the same time, he’s conservative about deductions, and I like that. Sometimes other creatives will scoff. “My person is much better! She let’s me write off everything! Movie tickets? I’m in design, I need to do research on popular culture. Done! You should ditch your guy!” Yes. Clearly. “My friend is much cooler than your friend! He never takes away my keys even when I’m REALLY drunk!”
The point of an accountant isn’t to save you the most money possible at all times (though Bill rocks there, too). To me, the point of an accountant is to remove worry. Bill has made the operation of my business mundane. It’s not a mystery. There are no scary numbers. And when something unexpected happens, I know that I’m working with a professional who’s on the ball. In other words, I don’t need to worry. And that’s the best starting point for creativity — the absence of worry. When I can rest assured that the business will be fine, I can focus on making crazy stuff! Of course, I still get a bit wound up about tax day, but that’s only because the Monsters keep screaming and yelling about it. For such fierce creatures they really are nervous nellies.