July 12, 2013

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards!

UPDATE! I’m happy to announce that my baby & kids line, typebaby has been nominated in two categories in the Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards: Most Awesome Mom-Run Businesses (Chicago) and Most Awesome Clothing Lines for Boys!

Red Tricycle is a fantastic online resource for parents, sharing kid-friendly events, dining, and activities in your own neighborhood. They are in multiple US cities, including most recently my hometown, Chicago.

I’m proud to be included on both of these lists, especially because they include many friends and fellow entrepreneur moms.

Click on one of the graphic below to vote for typebaby! Voting runs through August 15, 2013.

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Mom-Run Businesses


Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Clothing Lines for Boys

March 23, 2013

Productivity must-haves for the working mom on-the-go

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 12:16 pm

Productivity must-haves for working moms

Now that I have a child, I’ve realized that spending 8 hours straight in my office rarely happens anymore. But with these tools, I’m able to stay productive by managing my projects and marketing tasks on-the-go.

My productivity must-haves:

  • Remote access app: I use Team Viewer, but any application that allows you to connect remotely from your laptop to your office computer is a lifesaver.
  • Evernote: I use Evernote religiously. I keep track of projects I’m working on when I’m not in the office by updating my documents and spreadhseets, collecting references from the web, and emailing notes and reminders. It also syncs beautifully with my iPhone and iPad.
  • Smart phone: Being able to check email or follow-up with clients when I’m out of the office is a must.
  • Tablet: Makes writing blog posts or updating a website easy—especially if you have a little one napping in the car.

What are your must-have apps or tools for managing your business on the run?


February 27, 2013

Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Filed under: Biz Mama,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Left to right: Enerspace yoga session, Jamie Russo, and the Enerspace coworking space in Chicago

Biz Mama columnJamie Russo of Enerspace has a lot of start-up experience as well as big co consulting and brand management. Her passion is health and wellness, particularly helping people create a lifestyle that helps them excel at their business endeavors and achieve superior mental and physical wellness. After growing a health services company that became focused on getting employees at large companies engaged in their health, she conceived of this idea to fully integrate work and wellness.  The ability to self-select a work environment through coworking spaces is an explosive trend and she is shaping the ability to choose an environment that fosters optimal well-being. Chicago is the first location. Enerspace will be taking workplace + wellness national in 2014.

I was introduced to Jamie—a fellow West Loop business owner—through a mutual friend. I found that we had much in common, including children around the same age and a love of health and wellness. She loves to talk and write about integrating wellness into work space design and is available for speaking engagements and guest blogging (contact her).

Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am the Chief Work + Wellness Officer of Enerspace which is a coworking space for entrepreneurs and mobile professionals. The first location has been open almost exactly one year and we just doubled the size of that location so I still wear a lot of hats. I have an outstanding woman running the space now and am trying to shift my focus to growing the business and writing and speaking about workspace design of the future.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My daughter, Dagny is 15 months old. Our first “child” is a male mini GoldenDoodle named Miles J. He’s three.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had wanted to start my own business for a long time. A few years into the last start-up, where I had been the first employee but still not a founder, I was committed to making that happen. I got to a point where I just needed to be more in control of my life, both bigger picture and day to day. That was for me but also turned out to be very important to integrating a child into our family. While working on my business, I also got pregnant with Dagny. A famous Chicago architect once said “Make no little plans” so I forged ahead. I signed my lease in September, had Dagny on November fifth and started the build-out for Enerspace a couple of weeks after that.  I opened for business when she was three months old (and in the hands of an amazing nanny).

How did your business life change after having children?

Before I had a child, I was almost solely focused on career success. I worked long hours (nights, weekends), traveled a lot to meet with clients. I had an end goal in mind but wasn’t enjoying the journey. Now that I have a child, I have an unalterable commitment to doing what I am passionate about while STILL being successful. I just define my own success now.

I believe in working smarter, not longer, and I try to stay focused on designing my work around the life that I want to live vs. (barely) living around my work. This outlook is for my personal happiness, to help me to be a better mom day-to-day and to be a role model for my daughter.

Describe a typical workday.

Due to the nature of owning a coworking space and the stage that it’s in, there is no typical day. When I’m in Chicago, I get up at 5:30, go to Rowfit, then spend as much time with members and networking as I can. When I’m in the Bay Area, I get up at 5 am to get a start on priorities for the day and get organized. I go to CrossFit three times a week from 6 am to 7 am and other days I run sometime during the day to get my Vitamin D and to refocus and stay productive.

My ideal typical day would be: Get up, catch up on news, participate in social media activities, generate some content (blog post, book chapter), work out, make breakfast for Dagny while addressing any time-sensitive things going on at Enerspace. I have someone that runs the space but I am still very involved. Then, eat breakfast with Dagny, drop her at the sitter. Come home, answer emails, work on PR/Marketing, work on business plans for expansion, network for coffee or lunch, continue projects from the morning, catch up on a few personal things, take Miles to the dog park, pick up Dagny. Enjoy a healthy family dinner with my family. I try to doing significant work after Dagny goes to bed to a couple of nights a week. The other nights are spent with my husband planning weekend trips and watching Downton Abbey and Homeland.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Value your time. If you own a business that you can/want to grow, then think about what activities are taking time away from that growth. Cleaning your house, planning meals, buying groceries, cooking, getting the dog groomed.  Outsource those things.  In Chicago, for $15-$20/hour, you can have a very qualified individual do all those things for you.

The moms that I know that own businesses, and don’t seem like they’re on the ledge half the time, get other people to do these things for them so that they can either make more money or have the leisure time and flexibility that you deserve for working so hard/smart.  If you can bill a client $75/hour, then it makes economic sense to pay someone $20/hour to take your dog to the groomer. Save your down time for value-added activities like enjoying the dog park with your dog, eating dinner with your family, or getting a manicure!  For $100/week you could eliminate your errands enjoy your weekend and maintain your health and sanity.


Chicago, Illinois / San Mateo, California
Facebook: enerspace
Enerspace Blog

January 17, 2013

What can I learn from this?

Filed under: Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:22 am

What can I learn from this? graphic

I’m currently reading JJ Ramberg’s It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business, a useful guide for new or experienced business owners. The book is organized by category, with useful tips for each.

One of the tips that resonated with me was: Tip #44: Learn from your failures.

As small business owners, I think we’ve all experienced failures or disappointments. Situations that didn’t quite work out as expected. But the key to success is turning these situations into learning experiences. Saying to yourself: What can I learn from this?

I recently went through a challenging experience with a personal project. It was an area that I was unfamiliar with and things didn’t go as expected. As soon as I let go of my disappointment and negativity and approached it as a learning experience, the situation turned around and new opportunities appeared. (Coincidence? I think not.)

Do you learn from your failures?

December 6, 2012

Industy Insider: Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor

Filed under: Industry insider — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:59 am

Industry InsiderIlise Benun of Marketing Mentor is an author, consultant, speaker, founder of Marketing-Mentor.com and co-producer of CFC: the business conference for the creatively self-employed.

Through one-on-one mentoring, she provides practical guidance, accountability and a sounding board to creative professionals who are serious about growing their creative business. She also speaks internationally to trade groups and students. Her books include “The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing,” “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive,” “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money.

Ilise has indeed been a marketing mentor for me. Several years ago, I attended one of her marketing webinars that helped me get more organized with my marketing. I met Ilise at the inaugural Creative Freelancer Conference in Chicago in 2008 and we have kept in touch ever since. Her advice and books have been a valuable resource as I grow my graphic design business.

Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor

Tell us a little about what you do/who you work with.

I specialize in working with self employed creative professionals and I help them get the clients they want at the fees they want to charge.

How has your past work experience influenced your current career?

I actually had very little work experience before I ventured out on my own, or was pushed actually, when I was fired from my second job out of college.  I started helping the creative types who surrounded me in NY and started simply by helping them get organized and get paid. From there it evolved into helping with marketing, pricing, proposals and any other  business issue that presents an obstacle to growing a business.

What is the favorite part of your workday?

I don’t think I have a favorite. Every day is different and I make my own schedule, which is what I like best. I start early and I tend not to work too late. I also take breaks for dog walks or just to clear my head.

What do like best about working with creative people?

Well, not all creative people are alike. Some are flaky and unreliable and don’t usually get far in business. I like working with creative people who are professional in their approach and open to bringing their creativity to the business side of their business.

Tell us about an exciting project you’re working on or have recently worked on.

The world is going digital and the future is interactive. So I just finished writing the 2013 Marketing Plan + Calendar to Get Interactive Work. It’s a simple plan for creative professionals that shows how to tailor your marketing to get the kind of work that is being required more and more: digital and interactive work. It is now available at www.marketing-mentor-toolbox.com

Learn more about Marketing Mentor

Hoboken, NJ

twitter: @MMToolbox
Facebook: MarketingMentorToolbox
Sign up for email tips at www.marketing-mentortips.com

November 18, 2012

12 years. 12 insights: celebrating my business anniversary.

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Today is my 12th business anniversary. So much has happened in 12 years. I’ve changed offices several times. Worked on a variety of projects. Met new clients and worked with long-term clients.

What have I learned in 12 years?

  1. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s hard to grow your business if you try to do it all.
  2. Keep challenging yourself. I feel lucky that whenever I get comfortable with my workload, something new comes my way that either challenges my way of thinking or encourages me to learn a new skill.
  3. Pay yourself first. Whether it’s for taxes or a vacation, it’s wise to set aside part of your earnings.
  4. Have patience. Some opportunities needs more time to develop.
  5. Find a creative outlet. I’m always creating side projects (or businesses) to challenge myself creatively. In the process, I inevitably learn something new I can apply to my client work. (my latest project: typebaby, a line of typographic baby goods)
  6. Learn how to manage the ebb and flow. Not receiving a weekly paycheck means you have to learn to ride the wave. In my case, it means socking away money and keeping a budget.
  7. Backup your files. Having survived several hard drive crashes, I swear by keeping a regular backup system (or several).
  8. Say thank you. I send thank you cards to my clients and vendors on a regular basis. I genuinely appreciate them and want them to know.
  9. Reach out to someone you don’t know. It may be a speaker at a conference, an author or someone you met networking. Reaching out and making new connections has helped me grow my business in amazing ways.
  10. Admit mistakes. It’s better to fess up than look for an excuse.
  11. Take a break. Less overtime hours mean less burnout and more creativity.
  12. Congratulate yourself. Every year on my business anniversary, I reflect on the past year and celebrate my achievements. With a glass of wine, of course!

October 30, 2012

National Women’s Small Business Month: how can you support and celebrate?

Percentage of woman-owned businesses: 1970 and 2012

According to the SBA, about 30 percent of small businesses today are owned by women, compared to about 5 percent in 1970.

As we near the end of National Women’s Small Business Month, here are a few ways to support woman-owned businesses:

  1. Visit a local woman-owned store or boutique
  2. Buy from a female artist on Etsy.com (there are lots of us!)
  3. Offer to mentor a young entrepreneuress or college student
  4. Join a networking group for female entrepreneurs, such as Savor the Success or Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence
  5. Read my blog posts featuring small business owners, Amy Nadelen of Tribe Wellness and Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organization Professionals

Share your story about being a woman in business

If you are a woman-owned business, submit your story to The Story Exchange’s 1,000 Stories Campaign, a project aimed at understanding the needs of women business owners and giving their stories the media exposure they deserve.

What ideas for supporting female entrepreneurs do you have?

July 11, 2011

Business cards going away? I don’t think so!

Filed under: Networking,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:13 am

A recent New York Times article spoke about how, in some circles, the business card is becoming a “relic.” [insert collective gasp from graphic designers everywhere]

My graphic designer-based opinions aside, I host networking events in Chicago and there is never a shortage of business cards being exchanged.

At the recent HOW Design Conference in Chicago, I saw business cards—from attendees and vendors alike—in myriad shapes and sizes, some using interesting formats or folds.

I understand the article’s point of view that in certain environments—such as tech conventions—people are exchanging contacts using technology (i.e. twitter handles or barcodes). But eventually those businesses will need to make themselves stand out or be memorable. And in a crowded marketplace, a well-designed business card can help your business stand out.

Business cards also keep you top-of-mind with the recipient. Many times, I keep a business card on my desk as a visual reminder to follow-up with someone. Can this be done with an electronic contact?

So yes, I think business cards will be stickin’ around.

Read my tips for making your business card more effective

What are your thoughts on the business card? Here to stay or going away?

July 6, 2011

Are you and your business memorable?

Filed under: Creativity,Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 3:09 pm

lsvdesign on flickr

I often notice a recurring theme in my (business) life. Something that seems to follow me around wherever I go. Right now, that theme is: being memorable.

What makes you fascinating?

The closing speaker at the HOW Design Conference in Chicago last week was Sally Hogshead, author of the new book Fascinate. Sally gave an engaging and inspiring talk featuring the 7 triggers of fascination and how they can be applied to people, products and brands to make them more fascinating or memorable.

For example, my primary trigger is PASSION. According to Sally, that means I draw people closer to myself and my ideas with a warm and open style of interaction (which is true).

PASSION could also be used by a brand who communicates passion for their product to their customers—thus making it more memorable.

And aren’t you more likely to buy something from a passionate shop owner, rather than one who doesn’t greet you when you walk in the door?

What makes your ideas “sticky”?

Earlier this week, I was reading a blog post from Megan Auman of Crafting an MBA about “making your business stick.” Megan references the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath—which outlines 6 basic concepts that make ideas stick—and offers her ideas on how to apply these concepts to make your business more “sticky” or memorable. (incidentally, happened upon this book at the HOW Conference and was intrigued by it)

One of her suggestions is based on the concept of stories: are you telling stories about you and your business? People buy from you because they are interested in the story.

This was a concept discussed in a session at the HOW Design Conference (there’s that theme thing again…) and it goes along nicely with the idea of making your business more memorable. If you tell a story about your business (on your website, for example) a potential client will not only feel more comfortable (it’s like they know you already), but they will also remember you.

Find your Fascination Factor: take Sally Hogshead’s ‘F Score’ quiz here.

How do you make your business memorable?


June 22, 2011

Kicking off the summer in (creative) style

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 6:56 pm

Yesterday (June 21st) was the Summer Solstice, which marks the longest day of the year.

Besides more “al fresco work days” (via laptop and wireless), I’ve been planning a few ways for my small business to kick off summer in creative style.

How I kicked off my summer…

Sending a “Happy Summer Solstice” card

I like to stay in touch with clients and friends by sending cards with a handwritten note throughout the year. And since my logo is the sun, sending a “summer solstice” card seemed only natural.

TIP: sending a card on a less-expected holiday always makes an impact.

Attending the HOW Design Conference

Leaving the office for a few days to get creatively inspired and network with other professionals is important for small business owners—especially solopreneurs. So this year, I decided to attend the HOW Design Conference, which just happens to take place in my hometown!

TIP: let your clients know you will be out of the office at a professional conference. They will appreciate knowing that you are working on improving your business (which benefits them!)

How did your small business kick off summer?

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