Archives for posts with tag: Blacksburg Belle

I did a lot of reading this month, I just don’t know that it’s properly reflected in this month’s list of favorite articles.

In the process of reading, I discovered that I am always behind and not reading the things I want to read like “War and Peace”. So I’ve decided that come 2012, I’m going to go light on the business reading and heavy on the personal reading. While I enjoy the materials I read for business purposes, I really need to expand my brain and vocabulary more on the personal front.  Moving toward 2012, I’ll make sure to step up my business reading game so you guys know where and what to read. Not only will these issues will be lighter and more reflective of not everything that gets me excited, but what I consider are must reads.

Below are my recommendations for October.

BUSINESS:

What is YOUR brand? Have you got it figured out? Maybe you’re on the cusp of having a brand? Wherever you are, read this posting and get your brand together! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/your-brand/

Megan Auman of Crafting MBA discusses the importance of images and why they are so important. http://www.craftmba.com/2011/10/04/image-is-everything/

I need to read this and reread this and do again and again until I’ve got it. Some great PR tips for a new company. http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/pr-startups/

Raising your rates. A topic we all despise. I think because we don’t want to lose existing customers, but Tara Gentile is here, along with DailyWorth to give some insight and encouragement to those who are considering raising their prices and who want to raise their prices. Good luck! http://dailyworth.com/posts/935-What-to-Expect-when-You-Raise-Your-Rates

The List of things to Not Do, courtesy of Inc., Magazine. I love quite a few of these, especially the bit about presentations. Awesome! http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-dont-do-lists-for-running-a-business.html

This is more about networking and specifically for women, but I love the humor behind the article and the voice of the author. Larry’s points about promoting, breaking into rooms you aren’t invited to, and focusing on one person at each event to remember are great things to remember as you try to work through the networking ladder. Every event I attend, I give out cards, but really focus on talking to the same people throughout the session. I also try to email them as soon as possible after the event to not just remind them of me and my company, but to let them know I remembered them. It’s a good balance.  http://www.women2.org/networking-as-a-woman-a-mans-perspective/

This article has some GREAT tips for entrepreneurs. I’m attached to the author’s second tip about not being afraid of experimenting. So glad I read those thought-provoking questions- it kind of kicked my butt in motion to get moving BIG picture with small action. http://www.women2.org/build-your-business-empire-by-thinking-big-and-starting-small

I seriously HEART this article by Blacksburg Belle about following trends. She’s spot on about why not to follow them, unless you have trendy clients. So read it and if you’re like me, be smug in your quirky self and business. http://www.blacksburgbelle.com/2011/10/one-big-way-creative-entrepreneurs-waste-time-how-to-stop/

YOU:

I suffer from “superwoman/hero” syndrome. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s damn hard. But I like this article, a lot because it reminds me that it’s okay not to be super woman. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to make priorities rather than just try to make everyone happy. So read this if you’re like me and sigh a little sigh of relief. It’s easier once you realize you can’t do everything. Woot! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/the-best-you/

This one is good! I love Heather’s 25 tips to nurture yourself. So true and so awesome! Start them NOW. Okay, maybe not now (I haven’t started mine yet), but you know gradually. First on my list wake up 30 minutes earlier. Yay for me time! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/nurture-yourself/

I’ve talked on other sections of my blog about my debt (it’s kind of an irritant), but what’s more is my desire to rid myself of my debt and this time I’m SERIOUS. Some of these tips are awesome and help give you a jumping pad for ways to start saving/cutting back/killing debt where it matters. Good luck! http://dailyworth.com/posts/934-Top-6-Budget-Tips-from-Readers#articlejump

So I love that this woman is happy with her full-time job and is still pushing away at her side business. I think that is normally the case when someone loves not only what they do, but who they do things with. If you’re not lucky like that and the fire has gone out for you and you REALLY want to leave and pursue your passion and dream company, I say DO IT! If you fail, well you can always look for a dream job in an office already established, or try again elsewhere.  http://www.lauraroeder.com/2011/10/follow-your-passion-and-keep-your-day-job

This should have it’s own topic heading as well, but I think the quotes from some incredible rising women in business are more great motivators and inspiration for you as you move forward. http://www.women2.org/10-tips-to-rise-to-the-top-dare-to-dream

ENTREPRENEURSHIP:

This article single-handedly describes how I feel about working in Corporate America. I’ve realized that I do want to offer skill-based education and jobs, but they won’t be as earth shattering or staggering as Google, or any other large company and for the most part, I seek to do better for the planet, but maybe this will give people an idea of why so many are leaving Corporate positions to seek their own happiness. Furthermore, I’m interested in how Corporations will view this flight. Hmm… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15082998

CUSTOMERS: This is a new topic, but I felt that I couldn’t just keep adding to business this month.We’ll see if “customers” manages to stick in future months.

Anyhow, this article about learning how to change the way people behave, really caught my eye. I believe that success comes to those that are transparent and really work with clients. I also believe strongly that things happen when consumers and people alter their habits and thought processes, but I don’t know that it should be up to the companies to change the way a person thinks. That mentality has led us to an extremely wasteful culture. IF a company has good intentions, then I’m okay with it. If they don’t, I’m a bit unsure that I agree.  http://www.women2.org/startup-lesson-learned-how-to-change-the-way-people-behave

ENDINGS:

This is a new topic! Chris’s post about what to do when a big adventure comes to an end really resonates with me. If you’re a goal oriented person like me, even more so. I’m always looking for a new adventure and path to take after closing another chapter. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-sense-of-loss-in-a-big-adventure

LIFE:

I put this under life because really, who does make the rules? More importantly why do we follow them ( societal standards aside)? http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/questions-to-ask-of-the-people-who-make-the-rules

I really like these ideas for life practices, not just business practices. Knowledge is the basis of everything, any good, smart Sagittarius (like me) will tell you that, so keep trying to learn, constantly in every area of your life. You’ll be better off for it. http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2011/10/21/improve-your-knowledge-daily/

FINANCES:

http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/common-financial-pitfalls-entrepreneurs

DESIGN:

I read this article and I really didn’t like Jen Bilik or her company Knock Knock. I’m not just saying that because I view her as competition. It’s rare that I view most people in “stationery” as my competition. I don’t say that out of cockiness. I say it simply out of a sense of I make what I make and they make what they make. Some people will like my “competitors” work more than mine and that’s fine. I’m not trying to appeal to the masses. I’m trying to appeal to the different and quirky people. Knock Knock’s stuff is cute, but it’s Jen’s persona that I don’t like. I don’t think I’m being judgey either. The tone of the entire article threw me off and wasn’t endearing. Maybe it’s just me, but I put it under here because she’s a designer and she runs a design operation and so it’s worth checking out. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-way-i-work-jen-bilik-of-knock-knock.html

What are the characteristic’s of a leader? This article helps, but I tend to think every leader is a bit different. Either way, if you’re searching for leaders and what makes leaders, start here.  http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-characteristics-of-a-great-leader.html

I’m an optimist and a designer and an entrepreneur, which is why it makes sense that I dig this article. I think the points made are valid and worthy of deeper consideration. The design community can make waves as they have been for centuries. Rise up!  http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665120/designers-are-the-new-drivers-of-american-entrepeneurialism

This GEM could go in any topic, but it’s under design because when it comes to designing and being creative, you shouldn’t wait or put things off. Even if it’s a failure, it is worth working on and working on until you get it to your liking. The more you practice the better you create. Sometime I must keep in mindhttp://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/never-save-it-for-later/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=JNw1ZHdA5snt7W

Until November’s list, brush up on these. Oh and share your favorite articles, too. Please? You never know when you’re helping someone out!

Hi readers!

It is the end of the month. Holy crap, I can’t believe it! I have been scratching my head the past four days trying to figure out where January and February went.  Time IS flying by.  The good news is that I at least know that ups and downs aside, I have had fun. Hooray!

Now, the end of the month has come to mean that my last posting of the month is dedicated to my favorite reads from said month. The articles are all over the place: social media, entrepreneurship, time management, crafting, artistry and more.  I’ve tried to separate them based on their topic, but they all kind of blend together after a while. (BTW, please let me know if you find this topic separation helpful. I will really appreciate the feedback!) Here goes…

Business, Social Media, Entrepreneurship and Tools:

“Then I realized over the years that it’s actually more about right time than real-time. In fact, when information comes through, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the right time to engage, capture it, and share it. I’m more successful now creating a list of information, relevant information, and then repackaging, repurposing, and broadcasting that information at the right time.” -Brian Solis, author of Engage

  • The quote above is one of my favorite that I’ve read this month! I believe wholeheartedly in timing, even though I also believe in moments and living in the moment (real-time).  However, what is most important between the two is knowing when the timing is right.  (Sara, you impatient, spontaneous, woman you, pay attention to your own words here for everything.)  In social media, it’s even more important to know your timing, especially when writing and editing  your own content vs. sharing the content of others. Read the wise words about the importance of curation and creation in this article courtesy of Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/03/17/curation-importance/
  • Has social media hit a plateau? Good food for thought! This article on Mashable asks the question and follows up with some insight: http://mashable.com/2011/03/16/social-media-innovation-plateau/
  • I am so anti-twitter, but so many love it. I am also trying to balance my social media presence (or lack there of) with real tangible contact and connection. This worksheet is a must for those of you like me, trying to figure out which social media routes to take to help build a better, stronger, and more tangible communication platform. Thanks Mashable, again: http://mashable.com/2011/03/11/social-media-marketing-chart/
  • Last one from Mashable, I promise.  This gem is about brand consistency. For new entrepreneurs (myself, included) this article is a must read. You want to make sure you’re brand is strong and sings, yet rolls with the punches. Here’s some great tips: http://mashable.com/2011/03/22/brand-consistency-social-media/
  • Ah, Chris Guillebeau. You shouldn’t be surprised to see an article about him because I’ve written about him before. Either way, this article is fantastic! Not only does he offer tips on business planning and development, customer service, communication, but most importantly, shares a moment he had with someone he connected with randomly and made a huge impression.  Enough for Chris to promote his business. Articles like this, I appreciate when ruminating on my business. Maybe you will to:  http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/business-secrets-from-a-cambodian-tuk-tuk/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1ewVoV.mvsnt7W
  • What is enchantment? What can enchantment mean to you, your business, your clients? Well, Guy Kawasaki kind of has it figured out. And I’m kind of in love with Guy Kawasaki because of this interview. Now, I want to read his book.  Check out this well done interview and let me know if you have, plan to or don’t want to read his book: http://www.bazaarvoice.com/blog/2011/03/17/interview-guy-kawasaki-on-reciprocity-influencers-ecosystems-and-the-art-of-enchantment/
  • This one is a bit tough because I think it can go under the money topic as well, but what it really gets to is pricing. I know I need help with pricing. Always. If you’re like me  (I’m sure you are), you’ll want to check it out: http://www.artsyshark.com/2011/03/26/are-your-prices-unrealistic/
  • Finding your niche is something people desperately look for. I know I’ve been wondering about myself and in discovering what my niche and who my target is, I’ve restructured and tweaked my branding quite a bit. This article by Ms. Megan Auman for Craft MBA is definitely worth the read:  http://www.craftmba.com/2011/03/22/niche-products/
  • Last, but not least in his category is another article from Ms. Auman that talks about our creative vs. business brains. This is a GREAT read, especially for crafters who make things and think they all have to be favorites and sell:  http://www.craftmba.com/2011/03/28/balancing-the-creative-brain-with-the-business-brain/

Time Management, Self Development:

Money:

You:

  • My dear friend, Jolie Guillebeau, is still a new friend, but I love her art, passion, talent and most importantly how sincere and heartfelt she is as a human being. I had the pleasure of meeting her several months ago and I knew that I liked her immediately.  I signed up to receive her newsletters shortly after our meeting and I love reading her words and seeing her work.  Earlier this month, she wrote a wonderful intro to go with a painting that she  recently worked on and it really resonated. She’s right–I’m tired of hearing people make excuses for how they think they’re perceived. Whether we are “beautiful” or not, we all have something to offer and the least important part of it is our looks. I suggest you check out Jolie’s work and read the blog posting called “Forty-seventh. Tired.” from March 17th: http://artbyjolie.com/stories/
  • Ah, the age-old question of should you quit your job before you’re ready? I don’t know that this article answers the question completely, but being that I’ve been debating this myself, I thought I’d share it with all the others in the same shoes: http://www.womeninbusiness.com.au/_blog/Style_and_Substance/post/Should_you_quit_your_job/
  • This article should be listed under “business,” but you know, I read it and wondered about losing my interest in my craft, not my business. I know that many people may have experienced this, or may be on the cusp of experiencing it, which is why I am listing it under “you”. As a crafter, you have to remember what you love about what you’re doing before you wonder about building a business empire. The minute that the flicker of light is gone, you’re in trouble: http://www.thebusinessofbeingcreative.com/2011/03/22/beginners-enthusiasm/

That’s all, friends-happy reading!  I hope you all find these as useful as I did/do. Please feel free to share any articles you love with me. I’m always looking for new perspectives.

Oh and happy last day of March!

Remember how I had said I’d post my favorite articles from the month a week before the end of the month, oh about a month ago?

Well, I completely forgot.

Not because I was ignoring writing the post, either, but because I had so many other thoughts going on in February about work and potential blog posts that well, I forgot to keep track of postings/articles that I really loved. In other words, I don’t have many articles to send your way, but I do have three things that I came across/discovered/took part of in the month of February that I want to share. Oooo…I’m not a lost case after all!

1.  Etsy Success Symposium, 2011

Etsy hosted their first all day event. It was filled with wonderful entrepreneurial women like myself who sell crafts through their website. I attended. And it was a great day for many reasons–the information, the speakers, the food, the energy, all of the wonderful new people I was able to connect with. It truly was an amazingly full of inspiration day! Even the speaker on copyright and legal issues was bubbly and turned legal jargon into fun and digestible pieces of information. And then there was the singing CPA. He was maybe my favorite–a man who loves his numbers while singing songs about them at the same time. Awesome!

What really got me was the wealth of knowledge the room held–long time crafters, makers and vendors (table/ festival sellers and online sellers).  The speakers all have information to offer on running businesses because they own businesses. They were all women whose blogs I read and look forward to their insight. The best insight I got the whole day was from a woman named April Bowles of Blacksburg Belle, who talked about getting clear about your money so that you can figure out what roads to take that will help you get there business wise. SO IMPORTANT!  It also helped reiterate another session I went to called “The Greedy Crafter.” The speaker, Lorrie Vesey, of LennyMud, talked about how often times we think artists are not supposed to make money and so the word “greedy” has a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t.

A lot of the time, we talk about making money, but we’re never truly realistic about the number. Many artists, women especially, think that we’re supposed to be the “starving artist” and be happy not making money, just making art, but the reality is we’re not. I know I wouldn’t be happy. I have a life style that I wouldn’t mind scaling back on, but I have just the same.

Being able to live with what I make comfortably is what really matters to me, now. If I wanted luxury, I’d figure out how to climb the corporate ladder! Instead, I want a creative enterprise, where I can be happy and healthy while helping other people be happy. As I have stated before, without customer satisfaction, money is irrelevant, at least in my business. Those are my realistic goals for my business. I don’t think they’re far-fetched or irrational.

Oh,  one more thing,  I would  like to make money to continue to do some traveling here and there.

Alas, given that I’ve been dealing with questions about money,  increasing prices and evaluating my work and my time, I’ve been thinking about making the most of my pieces. When I think about my work, I know without a doubt that I can sell and be successful off of it because of what I can offer — another great topic discussed on multiple levels by different people. As a matter of fact, one of the most challenging sessions was toward the end (it was a long day), when Michelle Ward, the “When I Grow Up Coach,” asked us to fill out work sheets describing ourselves. This culminated in each of us having an elevator pitch. I failed this project and it made me realize that I need a better handle on describing what I do.  So I have a new focus, and a new blog posting/series to write about (stay tuned).

While these aren’t specific articles, I know, Etsy, has a few of the sessions via video stream in their community section. I highly recommend you check them out!

2. pinterest.com

I am absolutely and completely obsessed with pinterest.com! I know that I’m not going to do the website enough justice, but it is an incredible tool for those who are tired of making lists on random pieces of paper of things they’ve seen online that they want to remember for that one day soon, when they have an occasion to get dressed up for, or a house to furnish. Like me.

The premise is that you create boards of your favorite images online. You can name the boards anything you want and you stick to a theme.  For example, I have a board that is of quotes that I love.  I also have a board called “My style” and “puppy love.” I have 12 boards now, I think, but I have so much fun putting them together. It’s incredible how one little button called, “pin it” can bring me so much happiness.

I suppose what I really love about it is that it’s a virtual vision board. Thanks to being inundated with images and graphics, daily there’s just not enough space to contain all the favorites. But now I can have my “real” vision board on my wall at home and my virtual vision board where I can keep track of all the things I can’t print and hang on my wall.

Currently, pinterest.com is by invitation only, although I did submit an email to get added to the invitation list, which worked because I’m now a member. I highly recommend this site!

3. Forbes Magazine

Below resides an actual article.  Promise. I graduated in 2002 from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. It’s a long story for another day, but I knew with every fiber in my being that GWU was the school for me. It was my first “love at first sight” moment (I have only had two of those moments).   It is going on nine years since I graduated and I’m still fairly active–I update the English Department on my whereabouts and doings, attend alumni events,  mentor recent grads occasionally, as well as, donate money from time to time.  Two months ago, they offered me membership in this business group with a free subscription to Forbes Magazine. I figured why not. It’s good to be connected sometimes. What I wasn’t expecting was my interest in Forbes mag. I have gotten several issues and I’m hooked! I have enjoyed almost every article I’ve read and I really like their entrepreneur articles. They’re informative and eye-opening.

In the last issue for February, an Op/Ed piece by Rich Karlgaard titled, Ten Tips: Great Restructuring Winners really got my blood pumping. I even ripped out the article to put in my “business planning” folder.

My favorite points are, well all of them, but: design, speed, service, internal communications, external communications, brand and purpose. I know, it seems like I just picked all of them, but I didn’t. I simply picked the ones that seem the most relevant to me as a new entrepreneur. In this moment, I am obsessed with design, brand, service, purpose and communication.

I selected internal (and external) communications because while this may be a one woman show, I need to be open and honest with myself at all times. One of my great frustrations is that I haven’t learned to face my boss the way a man might and be comfortable with that. Instead, I let emotions get in the way. This could be for a variety of reasons, but  I know it’s bad.  And I know that moving forward in my own business, I need to make sure that I can be comfortable with talking honest with myself (which I can, mostly) and also conveying that to future employees (I can’t believe I just said/thought that!). Nobody wants to work for someone they don’t like/can’t trust/hate talking to and I refuse to become that type of boss. Not to mention, you can already imagine the effect it would have on any and all external communication.

Brand and design seemed to be good to combine because I am designing my brand and branding my design (I was an English Lit major, give me a break). Any designs that I do must go along with my branding guidelines and mission and my business branding needs to fit along the lines of whatever I design, otherwise, I will be conflicted. I want to point out that I am not saying that this will restrict my designing and branding whatsoever, but I want to make sure that at the core of my design and brand are the values I want to carry down the long road known as S2.

Finally, service and purpose. These two could easily go along with communication, but I separated them and combined them together because I think in order to provide service (which should be the most important value to any business, large or small), you need to understand your company purpose.  By purpose, I mean what IS that you’re doing? and why? and what exactly are you hoping to accomplish?. Without this, you’ll be lost forever, not to mention you’ll leave many clients and potential clients, confused, or lost to the point where they won’t return.

None of the points, or the article itself, seem very innovative (regardless of the heading it sits under), but it helped remind me of what should be key business points for every business, young or old.  And this is the kind of information you need when plotting and planning for business and world domination. Especially in a world where information abounds and can be overwhelming.

I hope your designing, building, planning, thinking and plotting is going well. If you have any articles to share, please do, other wise, stay tuned for the next two postings this week and Happy Marching!

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