Taking Care of Business: Procedures, Paperwork & Project Management

In our fourth B-Side session, Taking Care of Business, you will discover what business procedures, paperwork, and project management skills are required to make your creative business successful. Topics will include: The Importance of Putting Things in Writing, Client Questionnaires, On-boarding Procedures, Price Estimates, Contracts, Terms & Conditions, and Change Orders.
As creative professionals, we tend to assume we will succeed or fail based on our artistic merits. But as Shel Perkins explains in Talent is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers, without an understanding and appreciation for business procedures and protocols, we’re unlikely to find the success we deserve.
Our speaker, Karl Sakas, will help us make the best of our artistic talents by providing an overview of best practices in project scheduling and project management, including a review of current project management software. Prior to his work as a business consultant, Karl worked in the industry as a web project manager and operations manager at several interactive marketing agencies—so he really knows his stuff!


Karl Sakas (@KarlSakas) helps digital agencies grow profitably, without the usual growing pains. He founded and runs an online community with 1,400+ agencies in nearly 50 countries. As president of global consulting firm Sakas & Company, Karl has advised agencies on 6 continents about operations, strategy, and leadership. He is the author of “The In-Demand Marketing Agency” and has written 160+ articles on agency management. When he’s not helping clients, Karl volunteers as a bartender on a 1930s railroad car. Get a free copy of his eBook “Don’t Just Make the Logo Bigger: Taking Clients from Painful to Profitable” when you sign up for his email newsletter.

What is your position at Sakas and Company?
I’m an agency consultant and coach. I help digital agencies eliminate growing pains—and for agency employees, I make agencies a more stable place to work.

What was the motivation behind creating Sakas and Company?
People typically start agencies because they love the work—design, development, strategy, copywriting, PR, so on. But once you start an agency, you’re now primarily a business owner. I found agency owners were in over their head. For me, business is normal—I’m a fourth-generation entrepreneur—and I’ve worked in the industry since high school. I combined that experience and aptitude to launch what’s now Sakas & Company in 2013. Since then, I’ve helped 140+ agencies in 19 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

If you could teach every creative business owner one thing about starting their own business what would it be?
Choose to make intentional (instead of reactive) choices. You can predict that certain things will happen this year—for instance, you’ll create a sales quote, you’ll onboard a new client, and you’ll need to negotiate a scope change. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time—be prepared to handle common situations. We’ll talk about some of those in the workshop.

Do I need a contract for every client?
Yes, unless you don’t care about getting paid for what you agreed to deliver. Contracts (technically, a contract with Terms & Conditions) plus a Statement of Work to deliver a specific scope) protect you when you and a client disagree. If things go smoothly, you don’t need a contract. If they go poorly, you’ll be glad you had it. Since you can’t always predict how things will go, get the contract every time. It’s a standard-ish agreement—you’re not writing an entirely document every time you sign a new client.

Why are you excited about teaching at the Bside?
I’ve seen—and made—a lot of creative business mistakes over the past two decades, so I’m looking forward to helping students shortcut the process in their business!


Register for Karl Sakas B-Side class here. See you there!

By Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe
Published May 21, 2016