October 25, 2017

Recap: Women Supporting Women Conference 2017

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — lidia @ 9:00 am

Last week, I attended the Women Supporting Women Conference in Chicago presented by WeWillWomen.org (formerly Mom+Baby), an event that aims to advance women in both professional and political interests.

The event offered 2 tracks of speakers on topics such as marketing, networking, public speaking and community and political involvement.

I was happy to see so many familiar faces from my local moms in business groups—as well as to meet new people who are running businesses large and small, and making political changes both locally and nationally.

Keynote speaker and Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza spoke about how she streamlined the Illinois driver’s license renewal process—as well as her trick for getting her 4-year old to practice his Spanish homework.

Another speaker, Becky Carroll of C-Strategies LLC has been active politically for two decades and is one of the co-founders of the recent #StandWithAleppo movement.

And Mom+Baby founder Alexandra Eidenberg, is an active local advocate for women’s rights, and is a candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives 17th District seat.

All in all, it was a day of catching up with old friends, making new friends, and feeling hopeful about the future—as well as my children’s future. Seeing all of the moms in business making changes big and small was inspiring. And as Susan Mendoza so poignantly said: “Anything is possible!” (both in politics and parenting)

Learn how you can become involved with WeWill. 

October 6, 2017

On the move? Tips for moving your office or studio

Filed under: Small Business — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 12:18 pm

moving your offcie or studio

I’ve moved my office a few times and I will admit, it never gets easier. It can be unnerving not having easy access to what you need to get your work done—especially with deadlines looming. (Is it just me, or does work always get busy before a move?)

My recent office move has been a unique challenge as I’m in-between offices for a few weeks, so my iMac is on my kitchen island—and the rest of my office is split between my storage unit and my car trunk. I always make sure to pack and label a box of important items that I can easily access after the move—and it has really come in handy during this transnational time.

Below are some of the steps I took to prepare for my move—as well as some that, in retrospect, I wish I had taken!

Before the move:

  • Schedule movers: Do this a few weeks in advance and be prepared with an estimate of furniture and boxes.
  • Purge, purge, purge: The less you have to move, the better! Be ruthless and trash or recycle as much as possible.
  • Box up donations: Consider donating unneeded office supplies, books, furniture or computer equipment to a local organization. See my list of Chicago organizations who accept art and craft supply donations.
  • Store old files: Pack up old accounting and project files and put them in storage to keep your new workspace neat.
  • Pack a box with important items: Label this box “important” and move it yourself so you can keep track of the following:
    • Current project files
    • Invoices or other bookkeeping
    • Office supplies (USB drive, file folders, sticky notes, stapler, printer paper, pens)
  • Be specific when labeling boxes: When packing file cabinets, label the exact location to make unpacking easier, i.e. “left cabinet, top drawer”
  • Label cords on computer equipment: This makes set-up easier (poring through a jumble of cords is never fun!)
  • Create a scale drawing of your new office: This will help you (and movers) know exactly where to put furniture and other heavy items.
  • Call utilities: At least 3 weeks in advance, change your phone number and/or internet service.
  • Order updated stationery: Update your business cards and other stationery with your new contact info.
  • Forward mail: Use this USPS link to forward mail to your new location. 

After the move:

  • Update your email signature
  • Send a “new address” postcard and/or email blast
  • Call attention to your new address on invoices (I added a yellow “sticker” near my address)
  • Contact clients that may need updated tax paperwork
  • Enjoy the new view from your office window!

Above all, get started EARLY. A few weeks before your move, start organizing and purging (it will take longer than you think). Work will inevitably get in the way in the days before your move, so be prepared.

As much as I don’t enjoy moving, I do look forward to the chance to start fresh in a new office. Let it inspire you and go with the flow. Happy moving!

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July 26, 2017

6 lessons I learned about life (and business) from Cars 3

Cars 3 movie still

I recently took the morning off to watch the new Cars 3 movie with my 5-year-old. I loved the story and characters in the first movie, so I was curious about the third installment in the Disney Cars series. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that although the story is targeted toward kids, the movie also had life (and business) lessons for all of us “big kids” as well. Luckily my son had a notebook in his backpack so I started scribbling notes in the dark.

The Cars 3 characters of Lightning McQueen (an, ahem, older racer feeling aged out of his sport), Cruz Ramirez (a female trainer who dreams of being a racer) and Jackson Storm (one of the high-tech racers taking over the sport) spoke about facing adversity, thinking creatively, gaining confidence, finding a mentor, overcoming ageism, and standing your ground. Whew—quite a lot for a so-called kids movie!

Face (and overcome) adversity

Cruz has always dreamed of being a racer, but because she thinks she doesn’t look like the other racecars, she is afraid to try. Lightning advises her, “Just because you don’t look like the others, doesn’t mean you can’t be in the race. You ARE a racer, use that.”

Think creatively

Lightening realizes that his age may be catching up with him and he just can’t keep up with the fancy, high-tech cars that are faster than him. Instead of giving up, he comes up with a creative solution to get back in the race (no spoilers, you’ll have to watch the movie!) As he says, “I can’t go out on the track and do the same old thing, it won’t work.”

Be confident

At one point when Cruz is trying to talk herself into the fact that she can be a racer, she asks Lightening “How did you know you could do it?” to which he replies, “I don’t know, I just never thought I couldn’t.”

Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance, you have the chance! – Sally Carrera

Find a mentor

Once Lightening realizes he needs help getting back in the race, he goes out in search for a mentor. He finds a (reluctant) mentor, his coach’s former mentor Smokey, who helps him regain his confidence through unconventional training methods that encourage him to use his smarts as well as his speed. Smokey tells him, “You will never be as fast as Jackson Storm, but you can be smarter than him.”

Overcome ageism

Lightning quickly comes to the realization that the younger, faster racers have an advantage over him. When the TV announcers are predicting his retirement from racing, Lightning declares, “I decide when I’m done.” And instead of speed, he instead uses his experience and creativity to get back in the race.

Stand your ground

Toward the end of her big race, Cruz faces opposition from Jackson Storm who sees her gaining on him and says, “You’re not one of us, you don’t belong.” She confidently replies, “Yes, I do!” and goes on to…well, I won’t give away any spoilers, but I think you can figure it out.

As one of the racing announcers in the movie observes, “The racing world is changing.” Things are changing in the “real world” too. And we have to use both our smarts as well as our speed to keep up.

 

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November 23, 2016

16 years in business = 16 reasons to be grateful (and then some!)

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — lidia @ 9:45 am

16-things-i-am-grateful-for_2016

This year marks my 16th year in business. WOW. I started Lidia Varesco Design in November 2000 and quite a bit has changed. But as I reflect on 16 years, one thing is for sure, I’m truly grateful for all of you who are reading this: the clients, friends and family that offer me support, encouragement and inspiration every single day. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Every year, I like to share a fun list on my business anniversary (see last year’s post “15 reasons why I love having my own business”) so this year I’m sharing 16 things I’m grateful for (of course, there are many many more!)

16 things I am grateful for

  1. My family who offers support and encouragement
  2. My kiddos who inspire me daily
  3. Great clients (especially the ones who remind me to send an invoice!)
  4. Coffee dates with friends
  5. Warmer than usual Chicago fall
  6. My short commute to work
  7. Paying taxes because it means I’m earning income
  8. Piles of books around my home and office
  9. Sketchbooks filled with ideas
  10. A full-night’s sleep
  11. My “creatively-messy” studio
  12. A flexible work schedule that allows me time with my family
  13. Seeing the world through my children’s eyes
  14. Apple Store Genius Bar (after a recent computer crash)
  15. Having my business for 16 years…and counting
  16. Using my design talents to make a difference

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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November 19, 2015

15 reasons I love having my own business

Filed under: Small Business — lidia @ 12:27 pm

LVD-office

Yesterday was my 15th year in business!

Since I’m currently on my maternity leave (see #12 below) I put together a quick, fun list to celebrate this accomplishment.

  1. Feeling a sense of accomplishment
  2. Meeting fellow small biz owners (especially fellow moms in business)
  3. Being challenged every day
  4. Leaving early to hang out with my kiddos
  5. Marketing my business (I have a passion for marketing)
  6. Always learning something new
  7. Making my own work schedule
  8. Working on a variety of projects
  9. Making any day “Bring Your Kids to Work” day (see above)
  10. Spending time on creative side projects (and my second business, typebaby)
  11. Developing long-term relationships (and friendships) with clients
  12. Being able to take maternity leave with both of my children
  13. Creating a work-life balance
  14. Carrying on a family tradition of self-employment
  15. Helping organizations grow and share their message

Read my “10 year” business anniversary recap from 2010.

June 17, 2015

Negotiating with clients…and toddlers

Filed under: Small Business — lidia @ 3:57 pm

One of the aspects of small business that many people don’t like is negotiating money. However, I’ve gotten a new perspective on negotiating—and it’s all thanks to my toddler.

When you’re a mom of a toddler, you find yourself constantly negotiating. In the Target toy aisle: “If you put that toy down and jump in the cart, we’ll go get a pretzel.” In the grocery checkout line: “If you stop crying, we’ll watch the LEGO Movie when we get home.” I used to think this was bribery, however I realized it’s just negotiating: “If you do (or not do) this, than we can do this (which is obviously much better!)

The same can be applied in client negotiations. Cost tends to be where most negotiations take place. Taking it from the above perspective, what can you do (or not do) to come to an agreement? In the case of a design project, I may suggest reducing the amount of initial research or number of concepts that are presented to reduce the cost.

In both motherhood and business, negotiation all boils down to this: coming to an agreement where both parties are happy and can enjoy the rest of their shopping trip…err, day.

May 12, 2015

HOW Design Live conference recap: finding honesty, passion & kindred spirits in small business

Filed under: Creativity,Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 2:17 pm
HOW-Live-2015-recap

HOW Design celebrates 25 years; Janine Vangool speaks; Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable; a beautiful sunny Chicago day

Last week was a whirlwind as I attended the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago, while juggling a sudden overload of work and a 3-year old’s schedule. HOW Design Live brings together print and interactive designers, as well as writers and other creatives for a week of speakers, workshops and networking.

I noticed several themes throughout this year’s HOW Design Live:

  1. Talking honestly about money: I attended several sessions which spoke honestly about money, sharing their billings, rates and/or project fees. Armin Vit of Under Consideration LLC even went so far as to detail “How to Spend $400,000 of Your $530,000 Billings” (the actual name of his session). It was refreshing to hear people talk honestly about money with their peers and encourage us to do the same.
  2. Rise above disappointments: It was also refreshing to hear design leaders such as Paula Scher of Pentagram talking about getting her ideas shot down. So, it really does happen to all of us! But it’s how you bounce back that makes all the difference. (Case in point: Pentagram’s redesign of Microsoft Windows 8, which had some bumps early on)
  3. Passion projects can pay off big: Artist Jeff Greenspan and Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh both spoke about personal projects which started off just for fun, but ended up garnering much unexpected press and success. See Jeff’s many personal projects here (Hipster Traps is my fave) and Jessica’s project, 40 Days of Dating here.
  4. You can find kindred spirits without even looking: I was looking forward to reconnecting with fellow moms in business that I knew—but I also unexpectedly met lots of new ones. What started out as small talk led to, “oh, you’re a mom too?” and a lively conversation about work or potty training. It was also exciting to meet some of my working mom heroes who were speakers: Bryony Gomez-Palacio of Under Consideration and Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE assured us that we can be moms and still follow our creative passions. Lastly, I had a great opportunity to swap stories with the “Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable” I hosted (which included moms, a dad, and even a pet dad!)

Stay tuned for my upcoming post featuring insight from the fellow biz mamas I met at HOW Live

Want to be featured? Please email me ASAP!

May 4, 2015

National Small Business Week starts today

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — lidia @ 10:00 am

national small business week

National Small Business Week starts today and I am celebrating appropriately: I will be attending the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago soaking in all the knowledge that will help me grow my design business.

Small Business Week features both online and in-person events for small business owners. If you are in the one of the cities who is not participating live (like Chicago), you can tune in for their daily webinars.

Follow here for my small business insight this week…

Stay tuned to my blog or follow @lsvdesign on twitter where I will be sharing my small business and creativity takeaways from the HOW Design conference. Here’s to working on your business!

 

October 30, 2014

My favorite resources for busy moms in business

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 3:38 pm

Coworking…with a toddler

For moms running a business, life can be a whirlwind. With all the daily work and family responsibilities, it’s easy to lose touch with friends, not to mention business connections.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to find groups and resources that have helped me learn, get inspired, and make beneficial business connections and friends.

Resources for busy biz mamas

Founding Moms
In-person and online events, including local meetups and the annual Founding Moms Conference.

MomBiz
In-person and online events, including the annual MomBiz Retreat, weekly #Mombizmondays tweet chats and the MomBiz Solutions weekly podcast.

The Mogul Mom
Super informative blog, plus a business resource Market.

Working Mother Magazine
Nice print magazine, plus online resources, the Working Mother Radio podcast and annual conferences.

For Chicago locals*

Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN) has a very active Moms in Business group with in-person events and a Facebook group. Founding Moms has 5 local chapters (find yours here).

There are also several coworking spaces—some even owned by moms—such as Enerspace Coworking (owner Jamie is a past featured Biz Mama), Collide Coworking, and Free Range Office.

*Thanks to my awesome Moms in Business group for helping out with suggestions!

What are your favorite resources for moms in business?

January 15, 2014

Thinking of starting your own business this year? Take this quiz.

Filed under: Small Business — lidia @ 10:00 am

Quiz: Can you work for yourself?

Have you been thinking about starting your own business this year? I created a 6-question quiz for Entreprenista.com that can help you decide if you’re ready. Take the quiz here.

Read all my posts on Entreprenista.com here.

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