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Laura Lynn Teddies by Laura Lynn
Lexington, KY
Posts: 3,649
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For those who are interested.. I've been working with my copy of John's program here and there as I fit it in my schedule  :crackup:

It will take some time to get it all set up... but once it is done, it will be wonderful!

Currently I'm entering in my suppliers into the "Contacts" page.

I'm also entering in my collectors.  You have to enter them into the "Contacts" page first BEFORE you can enter them as a customer.  Reason  is, when you go to add a person to the "Customer" tab, you choose from the pull down menu that you created when you added people to your "Contacts" list.

More later!

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

A little more on John's program... it's created with Filemaker which I was looking at to begin with. It's be customized to fit the general needs of a crafter/artist who also does shows.

Filemaker is a pretty complex program... it would take twice as long to set it up the way one needed it as it will to just enter customer, inventory and cash flow data as Laura is doing now.

The only down side to this guy's version is that you can't (unless perhaps you are a computer software genius) alter the tabs, categories, etc. in the event you wanted them to be something different. But all in all... the hard work is done for you and it's a very comprehensive program. You can even insert a photo of each bear you've made/sold in the inventory section so you have a catalog of all your work with not just photo but materials used, cost, price sold for, when and to whom. Pretty nifty!

I'm still checking them all out before I decide which one to dive into!!

Actually today I'm putting up all of my autumn decorations and planting mums!! I LOVE fall!

Laura Lynn Teddies by Laura Lynn
Lexington, KY
Posts: 3,649
Website

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Daphne... aren't you supposed to be sewing????  Course then... so am I.... bear_whistle

Cleathero Creations Cleathero Creations
Ripley, Queensland
Posts: 1,925

Umm guys you may want to look at Art Organizer
It has a free version as well

It
creates invoices & Bills of material
keeps track of events
track contacts
schedules due dates appointments etc
track commision, layaway and payments over time
automatic costing
track consignments
Completely customizable categories
Sort, filter, search and group on almost any information entered
Low inventory re-order reminder


That is the free version

Automatic inventory adjustment when inventory items are used in a work
(on the paid version plus more

link here
http://www.artaffairsoftware.com/

it was suggested it to me on a jewellery site and I have downloaded the free edition

,aybe it will help?

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

This is one I gave serious consideration to as well. I guess it just seemed like over kill to me but if it can be fully customized.......

Let us know what you think of the trial..... I'll be interested to hear!

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

This thread came up last fall.

Daphne: Have you decided on a program?  One with labels capability?

Laura Lynn: You purchased this program. http://www.jaminmark.com/acbo/  You were liking it very much...how about now after using it for a while. Looking over the various programs mentioned, this looks pretty good for me but wondering how you like it now.

Thanks guys and anyone else who might have new info since the last discussion.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

I ended up buying a separate program just for managing my mailing list. Not the most efficient way of doing things but it's an easy program to use, cost me $10 at Staples and I've just completed my first mailing with it. It'll do emailing too, not just snail mail. I believe it was called "My Mailing List".

As for business software. I ended up getting the same program Laura Lynn has. She really seems to like it. I know she's spent time working with it to find what works for her. Once she gets all that figured out I'm hoping she'll give me a lesson!!!  bear_happy I honestly haven't spent a lot of time with it yet. I want quick and simple and I don't think those words describe this program. It's basically for managing inventory and customer purchases & communication. You can track your sales but not expenses aside from cost of goods used to make the bear. If you want to track purchase of bear making supplies, postage, office supplies, etc. for tax purposes you still have to have a separate program or keep a spreadsheet or ledger. At least as far as I can tell.

To be completely honest..... in my opinion.... if you can use  Excel to create spread sheets to track expenses and receivables and Access to create a customer data base then you really don't need anything else. (Those programs come with a version of Microsoft Office.) I'm not too familiar with Access and the daunting task of setting it up with my limited knowledge makes me say "forget it"! But info can be imported between the two programs and once it's set up it works great. I ran an office for a saleman once who managed his expenses with Excel and customers and orders with Access and it was fairly simple but his wife maintained the Access program, set up, performance, etc. I just did data entry. If I recall you can print mailing labels with Access too. I didn't want to spend the time setting it all up but I'm going to have to spend just as much time learning the software Laura got so I guess it wouldn't matter either way.

As usual, I've babbled with no simple answer! Sorry!

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

Thanks, Daphne, it did look "simple and easy" the way they described it, but it seems whatever the software, it's not quite so simplel and easy when I try to put it to my use. But this did look promising and I think the cost was reasonable.

My husband uses Excel for our family budget so maybe he could help me set up that one. I have Access, too, but have never wanted to tackle it, either.

After I posted last night, I found I hadn't read entirely through the posts. Bronwen suggested
http://www.artaffairsoftware.com/ . The overview/tutorial is set up as a jewelry business, but it said you could set it up for any business using any labels. It did have an inventory tracking system and I believe a mailing list, and you could upload pictures of your products. Also a free download for 60 days. If you like it you can pay the fee and they offer installments. I think the total cost is about $150. Otherwise, you just lose access to the program after 60 days.

Thanks for your response. Maybe Laura Lynn will give us both lessons online.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

I just looked at that again..... does look useful too. I'm downloading the 30 Day trial now. It's NOT compatible with Windows Vista.... the latest Windows operating system to replace XP (we've got Vista on our new PC and it's amazing all the programs that don't work with it... rather frustrating!) so I'm putting it on my laptop. I'll let ya know what I think!!

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

Thanks, Daphne. We still have XP so maybe I'll try a trial download, too.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Well, Marlys, I spent 3 hours with Art Affair this afternoon and I really like it! I went through the whole demo/tutorial process before anything else and found it very straightforward. The program is very customizable (is that a word?) and I think it's going to work for me!!! I've got most of my data already entered and printed my first invoice from it with no problems! Glad you brought this topic back up!
bear_thumb

I do have to say that just because it works for me doesn't mean it will for everyone of course. We all think a bit differently thus will find it easier to understand and use one program vs. another. Laura's patience and abilities to figure out how to make the program she's using work amazes me.

I'd thought that Art Affair was overkill when I first looked at it but now that I've worked with both I think the other one is... for me. There are a lot of steps to go through to finally actually create an item in inventory and be able to sell to someone. You can't skip over any steps in that program. But with Art Affair you don't have to have every field filled in to get to the next. It just seems a lot simpler to my simpleton brain! bear_tongue

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

Woohoo...woohoo. You've sold me, Daphne. I haven't had the time to even download yet.

My son, Joseph, and his roommate have given up on Chicago. He still hasn't found a job and Becky is going home for personal reasons. Movers came and packed them up yesterday and today they'll start out driving across country in Becky's car. She lives in Phoenix so he'll get that far with her and we'll pick him up at her house. So I'm busy trying to move things around in my sewing room to give him some space. It used to be his room before he left for college. Anyway, I've worked in there several days and I've still go work to do before we pick him up next Friday. I've taken my sewing machine downstairs in the living room to at least give me a workspace. Everything is so crowded and messy right now, but I want to make him at least as comfortable as possible while he's here. He doesn't want to stay here so he's been sending out resumes all over the west coast. Just hope he gets something soon.

So anyway...that's why I'm up at 2 am. Can't sleep, worried about their drive across country because of all the crazy weather.

So back to the software. I thought it looked pretty good, but I've no experience in really keeping my records since I just began to sell. But I want to try to keep things current and easy for me to do. 

Thanks for checking that one out...maybe I'll download it now...

Laura Lynn Teddies by Laura Lynn
Lexington, KY
Posts: 3,649
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Marlys sorry for the delay.  I wasn't online much this weekend and when I was about to post about the program today... I had to rush our wee Sequoya to the vet  -- but all is alright now!!

Yes, I have and use the ABCO program.  It's a tweaked version of File Manager I believe.  I have no idea how to use File Manager though.  Daphne has File Manager and says it looks way different than ABCO the way it is set up.

I LIKE this program!  It is not absolutely perfect for me, but for the most part I like it.   That Art Affair program looks awesome!!!  However, at 3x's the cost of ACBO, for me it's not an option...at least not now.

I  used to keep track of everything in Excel.  I had different spread sheets for each of my main expenses categories.   That meant I needed to sort out my receipts by category when I entered them in which was a royal pain.  But I wanted to know where I was spending my money... and my CPA also needed to know that for when he fills out my Schedule C of my federal taxes (which are done by the way... whoooHOOO)

Once I set up my ACBO program, I am able to just enter in each expense in any order I want... or no order at all... and the program puts them in date order for me AND separates them by category when I run reports. 

Setting up the program though takes TIME.   And... for me anyways I had to set it up the way I thought I wanted it, work with it a bit and see what worked and what didn't... what else I needed to add - and re-set it up again.  Thank goodness I didn't have tons entered in when I first started -- cause I've re-done my categories bear_original

I keep trying to remember the KISS rule... Keep it Simple Silly

I've narrowed down my Expense Tax Categories to something like this

Bear Making Supplies
Office Supplies
Shipping Supplies
Advertising (ads, ebay, website and show fees)
Postage
etc.....

You have to enter in all of your suppliers.  There IS an "other" tab where you can enter in a one time supplier... but I've entered most of mine into the program.  For one thing, it will help me remember where I purchased something later down the road...like my boxes...

You need to enter in all of your "expense events".
I entered in each show I had attended, as well as "website sale", "ebay sale", etc....

for sales tax purposes I also have "website sale w/in IL" and "ebay sale w/in IL" -- those categories then have my sales tax automatically calculated.  I forgot now where I set that up, but it was in the "helps".

You also need to enter in all of your customers.  Technically you don't have to enter in all the address info and such, but you may as well if you are going to the trouble of using the program anyways.  It takes some time to enter, but I'm glad I did now.

PRODUCTS.... here is where I made my mistake.  Most of my bears are one of a kind.  So after I'd make each bear I entered that one into the "products" tab like this:  10" Bear - Rose.   Then when she was sold, I would click right on that one.  The nice thing was I could see at a glance the names of all the bears a collector had adopted.  The BIG downside was ALL that entering of information.... constantly!  Not only that... but the drop down menu for "product sold" got so long it was getting unmanagable.  I realized for ME, that I'd never keep up with it.  So I changed it to something simple:

Mini Bear
5" Bear
6" Bear
7" Bear

.... you get the idea bear_original  I only have to enter in products once now instead of every time I finish a bear!

I DO make note of the bear's name in the "notes" section when I make an "income entry", but it doesn't show up on the reports which was cool.  Oh well, at least I'll keep up with using the program this way.

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

That's ok, Laura. Hope everything is alright with your new baby.

Thanks for going over the program. It looked like yours or the one Daphne is trying out now would be best for me. The others looked too "accounting-like" for this numbers-formulas-challenged gal. I need something that practically does itself. I won't have much to have to enter to start, but I'd like to get something going before it becomes overwhelming.

I did download the Art Affairs trial this morning, but haven't had a chance to try to use it...just the overview/tutorial.

Laura Lynn Teddies by Laura Lynn
Lexington, KY
Posts: 3,649
Website

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Thanks Marlys!  all is OK - her spay site opened up a little... but only the top skin part.  She was in pain and so was acting very odd. 

I downloaded the Art Affairs thing too... and for selling I really liked the set up!  However, I can't see where to put my expenses.  I may shoot her an email to find out.  Otherwise I'm sticking with ACBO although I like the selling part better with Art Affair - and also like how AA looks on the screen better.

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

That was the one thing I notices, too, Laura Lynn...no expense section. So I was wondering if you'd make them venders...like USPS/FedEx/UPS...Joann's...Michaels...would all be vendors. So I'll be anxious to find out what you learn. That's how I though I'd do it if I go with this, which I think I probably will since I need something super simple that does the work for me.

I've still not had a chance since I downloaded it to try for myself. I should have waited as by the time I get to it I'll only have 21 days to use. bear_tongue

There is a spot on the invoice section that shows a place for postage, but I couldn't find anyplace for a total.

Poor Sequoya...that female stuff is no fun.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Marlys - I was thinking what you said about making each expense a "vendor"... haven't played with it yet but I think that would work.

As for shipping on the invoice. You go to the inventory item that was sold. The shipping charge, carrier used and even a tracking number can be entered there. Pretty cool! Not sure how it would work if you sold multiple items and had one shipping charge. I guss as long as you put the shipping on one of the items going to that customer you are all set as it'll show on the invoice.

How's it going moving your stuff around? Hope your son's journey to Pheonix is going safely. I'm sure it's got to be hard to move home but it sounds like he's very pro-active about finding a new job and not staying too long. Good for all of you I'm sure! I moved home countless times until I was 30, got married and my folks bought a condo with no room for me!!  bear_laugh

When you get to playing around with Art Affair feel free to email me if you need to! I MIGHT have it all figured out soon!

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

I'm laughing here...your folks bought a condo too small for you to move back into...Allyn and I have discussed that very thing.

Thanks for responding, again. I'm so glad I had a viable idea...unusual for me. bear_rolleyes If you think the vendor thing for expenses would work, I think I'll try that.

I'd hoped to get the room cleaned out today. Worked all morning and pooped out. But eventually I'll have enought stuff moved to make him semi-comfortable. I've closed up my sewing cabinet and he can use it as a desk for his computer and I've cleared closet shelves he can use for his underware and folded clothes and bookcase shelves to give him room for whatever books he wants to bring in. At least this way, when his furniture does arrives, it can go directly into the garage. And thanks for asking.

I read all the time about kids moving home more and more. So Ashley came home last summer and Joseph will probably be here by Friday. They aren't making as good time as Becky thought, but I think she was trying to stretch too much. They stayed in Springfield, Mo. last night and she'd hoped to get to Tulsa. I'm hoping they slow down a bit...of course I worry about them driving across country alone...though they are 24 and 25, they just still seem like babies to me.

And I will take you up on your offer of help when I get to it. I've pretty much decided to go with this one, I just think I should try it first.

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

I just bought the program that Laura has - Art & Business Craft Organizer, http://www.jaminmark.com/acbo/ and like it very much.  I didn't think it would work on Vista, but it is working fine on my computer.  John said people have been able to use it on recent Vista versions.  I found it a little confusing at first, then realized certain categories, such as contacts needed to be added before they could be correctly put into the customer tab.  (Thanks, Laura!)  I haven't figure out a way to add shipping costs, yet, but haven't spent too much with it so far.

I also have Quicken Home and Business, which seems good because you can put in savings goals and track home expenses.  I messed up trying to add things into the business section.  It has the sale I added as an expense, and I can't figure out how to delete it or start over.  When I uninstalled the program and reinstalled it, it remembered what I put in before instead of starting fresh.  bear_ermm

I also wanted to mention an Etsy seller, Miss Sideburns (actually a man).  He has several customized spreadsheets including a Raw Material Manager Craft Show Ease that can be used in Excel or Open office (a free program) http://www.openoffice.org/ .  I bought Business Manager  http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?li … d=38656253  It's only $26.00 and includes a Contact Manager, Costs Manager, Sales Manager, Time Manager, Inventory Manager, Bank Manager, and Reports Manager.  I really like it.  It's very easy to use and can be customized.  Marc said he is working on another spreadsheet that will have tasks and events. 

There are some other sellers on Etsy who offer very inexpensive business spreadsheets.  Two I found are Serena's Shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/serena
and Accounting Spot http://www.etsy.com/shop/AccountingSPOT

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Oh - somehow I missed this discussion last year. After 7 years off the show circuit, from which I took a break after being on since 1984, I'm in 3 shows this year. So this post of yours caught my eye, Daphne. I was curious enough to go back and read all of the posts since early in 07... wow, am I impressed!
And do I ever wish that there was a program out there like this for us Mac users!

form.png

This form is probably more important than any other bit of information we artists can have at a glance - to be able to print out reports like this and post right in front of our eyes - to continuously track where are we in ordering our supplies/filling out applications/following up on contacts/etc.. with the Answers proactively marked as Applied For/Registered/Pending/Planning/Apply/etc.

And the Reminders of what needs to be done for each and every upcoming Events or Projects - all on one compiled list instead of having each on their own page and needing to track them down separately; the Tasks needed for them, Starting and Due dates, Status and Priority Levels and most importantly (to me!) a count down of number of days remaining until all of these MUST be completed for each Event! Seeing this all listed together is MOST helpful.

I work best under pressure and this prompt alone makes my priorities fall into natural positions of which job needs to be done next!

I sure wish we had this for Mac-ers....

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

Hi Bobbie,  bear_original

John (from Jaminmark company that makes the Art & Craft Business Organizer) said he is working on a system-independent version of the program that should be ready some time this year.

Miss Sideburns stuff will work on any system if they have Excel.  You might check with him and see if his new Time Organizer (may be ready at end of next week) would work for you or if he could do something for you that works.

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Ellen - great tips - thanks for the info about Miss Sideburns's spreadsheet. I'm going to go check those out.
I'm still functioning in a disorganized mess of piles of papers, half completed spreadsheets who's calculations don't work and am constantly cursing myself for being such a poor business woman. Creative people aren't supposed to be organized business people! Did someone miss that memo? LOL! It's still January so this is the time to get a system in place and perhaps this is the year to actually do it! Now that my mother lives closer she's offered to keep my books. She was a business manager for 10 years so I think she'll do a better job than I do! I just need to get things in order so she has a starting place and doesn't get scared off when the paper avalanche slides off the desk and into her lap.

rowarrior The Littlest Thistle
Glasgow
Posts: 6,212

What you all need is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.  I've worked testing quite a few, but don't know if any of them are easy to use immediately off the shelf, or if they need some tweaks.  The Microsoft one's not bad for ease of use, but knowing Microsoft it probably isn't cheap.  Still, Google CRM systems and see what comes back. By definition they control the contact you have with your customer and also do financial management, retail management and pretty much anything else you can think of (they're databases basically)

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

Daphne, yes I finally found some programs that seems intuitive to me and that I can understand pretty well.  I like to keep stuff simple, and don't have that much to put in yet.  I love the tasks and events tabs in the Art & Craft Organizer and the Time Manager in Miss Sideburns' business manager.  With the Time Manager, you can see exactly how much time you are putting in for various catagories and individual projects.

Rowarrior,  I looked up the Microsoft CRM system.  It looked pretty comprehensive, but complicated to me.  I didn't see a price, but it looked expensive.  bear_original

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

I wrote to the CONTACT US link on the Art & Craft Online@jaminmark.com last night and received this reply just now:

I'm VERY pleased!

Greetings,

Thank you for your inquiry.

Yes ... Mac users will be included.

Our new version of Art & Craft Business Organizer (which hopefully will be available later this year) will be similar in design and function to our current desktop version and will be COMPLETELY computer, platform, system, and browser independent.

It will be an online, browser-based system, which means that you will be able to access, enter, and update your data from any computer, any platform, using any system, from any location in the world by simply logging in to your online account.

Among the many important features of this kind of system is that we (the developers) can make programming updates, changes, additions, corrections, revisions "on-the-fly" ... if an improvement to the software is available, if a major or minor change is necessary, if our customers/users recommend a change or addition that we incorporate, if new features are added, these will be available to all registered users immediately with no user downtime, no re-entering data, and with no need to download and install a new or revised version. Users will always be using the latest version of the software.

As we get a little closer to completing the development of the basic system, we will be seeking beta testers and the input, ideas and recommendations from our current desktop version users and other interested parties.

We have added your name to our ACBO (Art & Craft Business Organizer) mailing list.

Administrator - Art & Craft Online
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Jaminmark - Art & Craft Online
1431 Sugarland Rd - Ethridge, TN 38456
www.jaminmark.com - artcraftonline@jaminmark.com

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