February Favorites

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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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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