Guest Post by Lidia Varesco :: Being a small business owner for almost 12 years, I’ve been accustomed to running my graphic design studio in a very organized, methodical way. When my baby boy arrived, things quickly changed in my home and business life.
Now, a year later, I realize the many things he taught me that can also be applied to running a small business successfully.
Lose your preconceived notions. When I first had my son, I wanted to be a babywearing mama. After multiple attempts (and baby carriers), I realized: This boy doesn’t like being in a baby carrier.
In business, the same rule applies. We sometimes approach our businesses with preconceived notions, only to be disappointed when they aren’t working. It’s okay to change your focus, client base or marketing strategy if it isn’t getting the results you want. In fact, it’s a good thing.
Be flexible. Learning to adapt has been one of the important lessons I’ve learned. Whether it’s an unexpected bout of sleep deprivation or forgetting to pack a diaper, you have to adapt to whatever situation presents itself.
This is valuable for small business owners. Some months are slower than others (both in work and billings) but if you’re flexible, you can ride the wave effortlessly.
Know your priorities. Being a creative person with myriad ideas to keep me busy, having a baby prompted me to examine my priorities. Now, I carefully pick and choose which side projects to focus on or business events to attend.
Even if you don’t have a child, you can apply this to your business. Instead of hitting every possible business event, choose the ones that will get you results.
Have patience. You can’t rush a newborn baby—whether it’s eating or sleeping, you’re always on their schedule. And yes, sometimes that means sitting in a rocking chair for hours on end.
Patience is a great skill to apply to small business. For example, networking can lead to great opportunities—but it doesn’t always happen overnight.
It’s okay to ask for help. Being an overachiever by nature, I have a hard time asking for help. The week after my son was born, I thought I could do it all: take care of him around the clock and follow up with clients (he arrived early, so I wasn’t prepared for maternity leave.) I quickly realized it wasn’t humanly possible—or healthy—and it was time to ask for help.
As small business owners, most of us have a “can-do” attitude that makes it hard to ask for help. But accepting that you need help and reaching out for it is an important skill to learn. Better to swallow your pride than disappoint a client.
Carve out “me time.” It took me a while, but I realized I’m a better mama when I regularly take time for myself. Whether it’s taking a nap or reading a magazine, that personal time helps me regain energy and inspiration.
The same concept applies to running a business. It’s easy—especially in the beginning—to put all your time and energy into it, which can quickly lead to burnout and physical ailments.
Change things up. Babies get bored easily. Just when “Old McDonald” seems to do the trick, they change their mind. You have to think on your feet to keep a baby’s attention (read: Keep them from crying or destroying something.)
In business, this applies as well. Perhaps you’re bored with your current workload. Take the opportunity to change things up. Reach out to new prospects or research a new market. You just might discover something new that you love. But don’t get too comfortable…
With over a decade of experience running her eponymous graphic design studio, Lidia Varesco Racoma is known not only for her ability to visually capture the spirit of a project, but also for her dedication to helping people stay connected. When she’s not busy designing or blogging, she’s searching for found typography in Chicago with her toddler in tow. Follow Lidia Varesco Design at LSVdesign.com, @lsvdesign and TypographyInTheCity.com. Read more about balancing motherhood and small business on her blog, too.