Help me Walk with Transparency
The 4 Techniques That Helped Me Walk the Fine Line of Work and Single Motherhood
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There’s no such thing as an easy path to entrepreneurship, and being a single mom makes that journey even more difficult. As a franchise business owner and single mother myself, I speak from experience when I say that maintaining a business while raising the ones I love most can be challenging.
Related: 10 Single Mom Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice
Yet, despite the challenges, my role as single momtrepreneur is one I wear with pride. When you’re surrounded by the two things that excite you most — your kids and your business — every day is a learning experience.
So, if you too are a single mother looking to pursue your dreams as an entrepreneur, here are a few things I did that helped me get to where I am today.
Be transparent with your priorities.
Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to learn.
Establishing a natural rhythm in alternating your attention among your children, clients and workforce will help you find your footing on the journey.
Entrepreneurship by no means is a 9-to-5 job, but creating a list of priorities and a road map for your day will help you feel less overwhelmed.It’s also important to recognize your limits. I used to be an overachiever working eight- to 12-hour days for six days a week, and although my business was growing and we were in one of our busiest seasons, I realized that I wasn’t giving the proper amount of attention to my kids. I needed to make a change.
To adjust, I learned to be transparent with my team about my need (and maybe their need too!) to balance time with my family; and I made sure they understood what times they could and couldn't reach me.
For example, I encourage my team to text and email me any time the need arises, but unless it’s an emergency I may not be able to reply until regular business hours. While it took some time for the team members to adjust, everyone came to understand that life outside of a business is just as important as life inside.
Be crystal clear with your team and lay out some ground rules on when and how you can be reached outside of the office. At the beginning of every week, I bring my team together to identify goals and discuss how we plan to reach them. Creating this outline will help you manage your workload in the office, while also allowing you to plan your day-to-day obligations as a mom.
Don’t suffer alone.
Momtrepreneurs need to understand that there are some instances when things are our hands.
Trying to be perfect at juggling everything around you is the tempting thing to do, but it takes a certain level of bravery to be vulnerable and to ask for help when help is needed.
Whether it’s seeking out assistance from the team you’ve built firsthand or seeking out guidance from your family, understand that it’s the recovery that’s more important than the fall. How you bounce back will shape how you charge ahead further down the road.
Related: This Single Mom Turned Tech Entrepreneur Shares How She Rose Above Self-Doubt
One great way to find help is to form a network of mothers in your neighborhood.
Early on as a parent, I organized a playgroup of more than 30 families, allowing us to get together on a regular basis to socialize and discuss the challenges we faced.
Any kind of network, whether a book club or sports group, is a great way to get people together, so find a way to better connect yourself with those around you.
Use online resources, as well. Whether you turn to a site Meetup.com, which helps you find others with similar interests and hobbies, or an app 2Houses, which helps keep track of your children’s schedules, or to a meditation tool Stop Breathe & Think, find — and use — the tools that can assist with your work and personal life.
Team up with your kids.
Children are very inquisitive, and one of the duties of a parent is to foster that curiosity.
As a momtrepreneur, I’ve realized that one of the best places to nurture my children is right there in my office.
They don’t understand every intricacy of my travel business, but showing them around and even letting them “work” is a great way for me to spend time with my kids while getting things done.Giving my children assignments in the office is more than simple delegation. My kids sometimes sweep up and keep things tidy, put stamps on envelopes or shred papers that I no longer need. I also take them to community events.
Children can be great ambassadors to a brand. I ask them to help with direct marketing at events and to greet potential customers. And all of these activities allow me to harness my children’s curiosity, giving them a leg up on life while also showing them the working world.
Celebrate every victory.
I used to think that my life would be defined by a few key moments, but I’m learning every day that it’s the little moments with both my kids and my team that I cherish.
Yes, birthdays, graduations and record sales deserve their own celebrations, but I have begun to appreciate and prefer the small moments of human connection, too.
Reading a book to my kids before they fall asleep or helping a family find a cruise destination that’s perfect for them brings me an immense sense of joy and satisfaction.
Moments these are the ones that make my work as a momtrepreneur meaningful, and keep me motivated to continue on this journey.
Related: 5 Fund-raising Lessons From a Startup Founder and Single Mom
Running a business while raising a family is definitely a challenge, but it’s one I look forward to taking every day. I know that every day is an opportunity to become a better person, both as a successful entrepreneur and a loving mother.
Transparency in PDF files
Transparency in PDF files refers to objects on a page, such as images or text, which are transparent or ‘show through’.
This effect can be used for a number of reasons:
- It makes underlying image objects shine through, so it is useful for emulating glass, fog, varnish but also shadow. Adding a drop shadow to text or images is one of the most popular uses of transparency.
- It can be used to show parts of objects that are normally hidden from view.
- Transparency can be used to lighten (parts of) images so that the text on top remains readable.
- It can be used to create a tint of a certain color or mix colors.
PDF 1.4 (the file format supported by Acrobat 5) was the first version of PDF that supported transparency. This PDF release came to market around the same time that Adobe Illustrator 9 was launched. Transparency was ‘the’ big new feature in that release.
Other applications Corel Draw had already supported transparency for years but had to resolve to a trick to generate a printable file: when creating an EPS file or printing a drawing, the application had to remove or calculate the transparency effects.
This process is called ‘flattening’.
Adobe also included transparency support in InDesign and they heavily promoted its use to the designer community. Suddenly prepress departments all over the world were flooded with designs that included transparency and their RIPs had to flatten this transparency to be able to make proofs or output plates.
The challenges when transparency is flattened
Transparency is a very complex technology. The Adobe technical documentation on it is over 100 pages long.
To simplify things, applications tend to split up a page in small square areas, called atomic zones. The effect of transparency is then calculated for each separate atomic zone.
The stitch between atomic zones can sometimes show up on-screen (and even in output) as thin white lines.Another stumbling block is the fact that a PDF file can contain transparent objects with different color spaces.
Adding a drop shadow to a spot color element that sits on top of a CMYK background (or vice versa) is an example of a design that challenges the RIP or workflow that needs to process the job.
Making an RGB image slightly translucent on top of a CMYK background is another example. Issues with color handling can show up as color shifts in (part of) an image.
Sometimes transparency involves the interaction between a vector based object, such as text, and a bitmap object, such as a digital photograph. Under some circumstances, software needs to partially convert a vector object to a bitmap. This is frequently the reason why text fattens up a bit on output.
On top of all of this software applications needs to work out how to best handle groups of objects that are transparent. Should each object, in turn, be blended into the background or should it be done on the entire group? Older prepress systems can really slow down when they need to flatten transparency.
Adobe was well aware of these issues. In 2006 they announced a complete rewrite of their RIP technology, called the Adobe PDF Print Engine (or APPE). It replaces the CPSI that was used in previous generations of RIPs and prepress workflows. As its name implies, APPE is much more efficient in handling PDF files that contain transparency. The original 1.
0 release still had some issues but the version that is nowadays used in workflows from Agfa, Kodak or other vendors is pretty reliable. Ironically enough Adobe’s main competitor, Global Graphics, had already adapted their interpreter, called Harlequin, much earlier.
Modern systems the latest versions of this product can also handle transparency without too much effort.
How transparency gets added to a PDF
Sometimes designers are not even aware that their creation contains transparent objects. These are the actions that add transparency to a layout:
- Making an object transparent in a layout or design application (obviously).
- Adding drop shadows to objects.
- Feathering objects.
- Placing native files which contain transparency from Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop.
- Dragging & dropping or copying & pasting transparent objects from applications Adobe Illustrator to Adobe InDesign.
When do such transparent objects lead to a PDF file with transparency in it?
- PostScript does not support transparency. If a designer prints a file to PostScript and then uses Acrobat Distiller to convert this file to PDF, the resulting file will not contain any transparency.
- EPS files are PostScript files. They also cannot contain any transparency.
- PDF 1.3 files also cannot contain transparency. If a designer exports to PDF 1.3, the design application flattens the transparency.
- Only when the design application allows you to ‘Save’ or ‘Export’ to a PDF 1.4 or higher file format, can you end up with a PDF file that contains transparency.
How to check if a PDF contains transparent objects
If you have Adobe Acrobat Professional, it is easy to detect if a PDF contains transparency. The preflight engine of recent versions can list all transparent objects in a file. Below is a screen capture of the preflight window of Acrobat Professional 8.
Other preflight engines PitStop Professional can also be used to detect transparency.
To designers, it is not always obvious when their files contain transparency. InDesign has a very nice mechanism for this. Pages that contain transparent objects have a checkerboard pattern in the pages list. InDesign indicates this per spread, even if only one of the two pages contains transparency. In the example below , page 3 or both pages contain transparency.
Tips & tricks to avoid having issues with transparency
You can download the Adobe designers guide to transparency here. Quark has a similar document for QuarkXPress 7 transparency.
Other sources of information
Adobe has produced an excellent white paper on the use of transparency in print production.