From “Oh Fuck” to “Fuck Ya”: A Creative’s Guide to Actually Making Money


You know who does like math? Courtney Zerizef, founder of Homeroom. Formerly a photographer, she returned to school in 2016 to get her MBA, where she saw the biggest gaps between business and creative industries. Convinced that it shouldn’t take a master’s level class to translate finance strategy to creatives, Zerizef formed Homeroom.

Homeroom is the host of Design Week Portland’s April 11th event, From “Oh Fuck” to “Fuck Ya”: A Creative’s Guide to Actually Making Money, where Zerizef will be sharing her b-school learnings. This lecture-style event will include take-away materials and built-in exercises to immediately use the new information. Held at the Nightwood Society, food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Who is this event for? The absolute newcomer? The seasoned veteran looking for deep financial insights?

This talk will span a wide range of financial understanding. While it will likely be overwhelming for the business newbie, everyone will leave with some very useful, directly implementable financial knowledge. This talk is for those who have run a small agency for a few years now, have maybe hired a contracted CFO, and need to gain a better understanding of what the heck they're talking about. It's also for those who have started agency work with a partner and are wondering if they need to keep hiring subcontractors for each project, or if they should hire a third employee full or part-time. It's for those solo-entrepreneur creatives who know how to be taken seriously with their creative work, but have no idea how to translate that into dollars and pricing. It's for those who really want to start understanding how to wrap their heads around value-based pricing—or really figure out exactly how many clients you need to get for the year to make ends meet.

What's the biggest mistake you can make in business finance?

The biggest financial mistake any business owner can make is playing guesswork or pretending like it will all "work itself out.” I have worked with so many clients who have thought that they could avoid paying taxes, or who haven't taken the time to save or prepare for taxes, only to end up paying ten-fold later. I've also worked with clients who have decided to get that six-month office lease on a whim or hire a full-time position even if it was premature because they think "it's what the client needs to see." Sometimes, these “swing for the fence” decisions work out, but more often than not, they end up being more costly than they’re worth. Burying your head in the sand or making the decision to put the financial aspects of running a business on the back burner is still making a financial decision.

All that being said, I have been in the position where you feel so daunted and overwhelmed by looking at your bank account that it seemingly causes less extreme anxiety to just avoid it. I get that all of the financial mumbo jumbo can be scary, but the idea that avoidance or guessing is easier than learning and doing is a myth that stems from fear. I've said it umpteen time before, and I'll keep saying until I'm blue in the face: the amount of time, energy, and effort that goes into guessing is so much more than just doing. Financial strategy seems overwhelming and scary, but the fact is, sitting down and doing the work will not only save time, but it will also allow you to feel empowered about running your business—to know that you are making the best decision possible and to know how to reach your idea of success