One of the best ways to maintain a successful animation business for the long term is to keep it organized. Being organized is especially important with all the other tasks and responsibilities you have to juggle as an animator or studio owner.
It is one of the best skills all businessmen should acquire. Not only does an organized animation business reduce stress and save time, but it will also expand your animation business and steer it in your desired direction.
Through an organized business, you can effectively manage your clients and deliver the best-animated videos on time. This will establish and build the credibility of your animation studio and attract more clients in the coming years. In this article, we’ll show you six tips for animators to organize your animation business.
1) Set Clear Goals and Objectives For Your Animation Business
When starting an animation company, it’s vital to establish what the business is striving to achieve by setting goals and objectives. That way, you can organize all the affairs and projects of your business in a manner that will move your animation studio in the right direction.
Clear goals and objectives will help dictate the movements and projects of your business.
These goals and objectives must be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Your goal would serve as the foundation for developing your animation company’s objectives, while your objectives are action points and the manner that will bring you to your goal.
In line with this, create a checklist of weekly and monthly objectives for you to keep track of as you work on your animation projects.
Regularly evaluate your progress by listing your objectives in a planner or on your desktop where you can easily see significant impacts instead of keeping them in your head. Doing this would hold you accountable and eliminate any obstacles or excuses from achieving your goals in an orderly and timely manner.
It can also serve as a guide on deciding whether you can accept or decline an animation project.
2) Establish Your Animation Business’s Working Hours
Working hours help give structure to your animation business. They are typically set from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during Mondays to Fridays, but you don’t have to follow that. What’s important is that you set aside as much as 8 to 10 hours in a day for your animation business.
Within those hours, you must put everything else on pause (like by turning off your personal notifications on social media) and focus on your animation projects at hand.
If you have a small animation business or you work as a freelancer, it’s also helpful to set a timeframe within your animation studio’s working hours where you can go online, check on your emails, and manage your clients and any queries. For example, 1 hour at the end of every day.
To create an ideal working schedule for your animation studio, here are some things you can do:
First, identify the hours when you and/or your team are most productive. Some people prefer working into the early hours of the morning while others like to follow the traditional business hours. It’s up to you to decide this and coordinate with the rest of your team if you have one.
Second, track your needs and the needs of your animation business. Some studios don’t need to do 8 to 10 hours every day. Depending on how small or large-scale your business is, you can adjust the number of hours accordingly.
Third, prepare for emergencies or unexpected situations. Should you or an employee incur a minor accident or happen to be out of town, you need to have a backup plan or a substitute ready to carry the extra hours or workload.
The value of this tip is to preserve your work-life balance –– As an animator, you can accomplish as much as you can within the working day while still allotting time for yourself and your leisure activities. With this, you can limit your distractions, fight off burnout, and continue to deliver the best for your business.
3) Arrange The Digital Space For Your Animation Projects
Most of your animation projects and business activities are probably going to be online or on your desktop, so aim to declutter your digital space and keep all your files orderly.
In arranging your digital space, the first thing you must always do is backup your files. As the famous line goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”. You can plug it in a hard drive or upload them on a cloud just in case your hard drive corrupts.
Once everything is backed up, develop the habit of deleting unnecessary files off your online workspace. This is a vital process that will automatically serve to be helpful. Think of all the files and folders you won’t need to sort through just to get to that one file.
To effectively do this, go through all your old project folders and files and just delete what you don’t need or what you haven’t reused in the past 3 months. This also means getting into the practice of automatically deleting photos, videos, and editing files the moment you accomplish an animation project.
If you’re struggling in deciding whether you need to delete or keep a file, you can opt to create a folder where you can drop everything and review it at the end of the week.
Establish a system of naming and grouping your files within your animation business. It may be by project, date, or file type with the file names maintaining consistency. You can also create a master list or directory on a spreadsheet with direct links to all the folders and subfolders of all your animation projects (and all the animation tools you may need in accomplishing them, including contact lists, music, storyboards).
It’s important you find the time to go through all your files at least once a month. Doing so will keep your digital space clean and save you the hassle of opening endless links and folders in the future, automatically revving you up for the next animation project.
4) Tidy Up The Physical Workspace of Your Animation Studio
Now that you have arranged your digital files, turn your attention to the physical working environment of your animation company. You might find you have scattered papers, tangled cords, and even leftover meals from busy workdays.
Maintaining an optimized workspace is an essential step in organizing your animation studio. It boosts productivity and satisfaction over your animation projects.
An article by Harvard Business Review indicates how your workspace has a significant impact on your decision-making skills and relationship toward your work. “Constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus.”
If you work from home, you can start this off by immediately declaring a particular space your “work zone” for your animation studio. Having a designated area for your animation business will increase focus and lead to more productive hours. This will also separate your work life from your personal life.
In your work zone, ensure all your essentials are in close proximity, such as a notepad, a couple of pens, and even the wifi.
Once you’ve set your work zone, the next tip in tidying up your workspace is the same as in arranging your digital files: Declutter. Go through all your papers and folders, and throw what you haven’t recently used.
Also, if you haven’t, get a trash can that you can keep nearby. At the end of every day, take out the trash. This will make you develop the habit of immediately throwing away items you don’t need and consistently maintaining a clutter-free desk.
Along with decluttering your office, get a label maker that’s easy to use, stack all your folders, boxes, and hard drives that store essential information, and label them accordingly. From your shelves and even your trash bins, a label maker is a useful tool in organizing your animation tools and helping you locate everything quickly.
Another thing that’s useful to add to your workspace is a “To File” folder. Here, you can put everything you’re not certain about and transfer them to its proper location at the end of the workday.
To maintain the orderliness of your work zone, set a date once or twice a month where you do a spring cleaning. During this, you can go through the process of cleaning away materials you no longer need and exchanging broken or worn-down equipment to ensure an optimized desk with everything prepared for the coming month.
5) Track Your Animation Business’ Finances
If you aren’t watchful of your finances, you might find yourself suddenly in debt or purchasing materials way out of your budget, especially if you’re a freelance animator. It’s your responsibility to handle both your personal and professional finances.
That being said, the first thing you must consider is to separate your personal finances from those of your animation business. You can do this by opening up a separate bank account for your animation studio.
A separate bank account will help compartmentalize the finances of your animation studio so you won’t have to spend hours distinguishing between professional transactions from personal ones.
When tracking the finances of your animation business, you must list them all down at the beginning of every month. You have your taxes, electricity, equipment, software, insurance, and your emergency fund.
As you do this, review your former budget and revise it accordingly for the coming months. Constantly adjust your budget as needed and keep it realistic. For example, the summer months may require you to consume more electricity than usual, so it’s best to prepare for that.
There is also a ton of accounting software you can use to track your finances consistently.
Another tip is for you to consult with a certified public accountant. There are many things beyond common knowledge when it comes to money management, like advice on taxes and record-keeping, so talking to an accountant will be a lot to help your animation business.
While most bills arrive via email, it’s still useful for you to have a designated drawer for physical mail. That way, you can quickly locate them for tax purposes or security measures. Keep them secured in a nearby cabinet or drawer beneath your desk.
6) Manage Your Emails And Social Media Presence As An Animator
GIF via GIPHY
As your animation studio continues to expand, you’ll likely be receiving more and more emails over time, be it simple queries or requests for revisions.
To efficiently manage your emails, establish a structure that would work best for your animation studio. Here are a few ideas:
In your inbox, utilize the email labels, colors, and folders tab to manage all your email. You can group together email threads per project or date to navigate them easier when you need to go back for reference.
You can also set an email automation tool that will allow you to strategically and conveniently reach your animation clients and their needs. There are multiple email automation tools you can use. There are options such as Hubspot, MailerLite, MailGenius, and Litmus.
Automatically delete junk mails, spam mail, and other unnecessary emails. The moment you receive emails irrelevant to your animation studio, move them to trash to prevent your inbox from becoming messy and help you spot more important emails easier.
When pursuing your animation projects, it would be best to turn off your email notifications temporarily. You can open them up again around the last few hours of work to focus on your emails and other online tasks rather than periodically checking your emails.
Whether you prefer to check your emails at the beginning or at the end of the workday is entirely up to you. What’s important is you set aside a block of time to tame your neverending emails and deal with clients or potential leads.
Along with this, use the time to check on your website or your company’s social media accounts. Regularly update them and manage any problems or concerns that may arise.
To Sum It All Up
Navigating your animation business and directing it toward success can be quite difficult with all the other responsibilities you’ll have to accomplish as an animator. To help save time and make things easier, you must maintain an organized business.
Being organized is also a crucial skill expected of good business people as it can reap many benefits like attracting new clients and efficiently tackling any project. With that, we compiled 6 of the best tips you can use to manage your animation company and keep you on top of things at all times.
First, you must set smart goals and objectives for your animation company. Following that, establish your work hours. Having a set time to work on your animation projects will help you preserve your work-life balance. Third, arrange your digital space. With most of your animation and business files online, you must be able to navigate through them efficiently.
Fourth, declutter your physical space. Even if you’re an animator, your physical space still matters. An optimized working environment will encourage your productivity in your task. Fifth, track your finances. Doing so can prevent you from falling into debt and keep your animation studio in the green line.
And finally, you have to tame your email inbox. With all the messages your animation studio receives, it might be difficult for you to keep track of everything. Above all else, it’s vital that you organize your business in a process that works for you.
While all these tips are surely bound to steer your animation business forward, feel free to play around a little before sticking to the organizational methods that work specifically for you and your animation studio.
You can also check out the Business of Animation’s Animator Accelerator Program to acquire and develop crucial organizational skills in starting and growing your animation career.