Lidiia Voevodina is co-founder and CEO of “DO THE LOCAL MOTION WITH ME, LC,” a logistics and moving company in Fairfax, Virginia. After gaining international experience in the private and public sectors in Spain, Russia, Southeast Asia and the United States, she decided to start a family business with her husband in one of the most entrepreneurial countries.
Lidiia completed a flagship graduate program, Master of Public Policy and Management, offered by the Institute for Policy Studies at the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD). Her studies at UBD and Georgetown University in the United States were fully awarded by the Brunei Darussalam Government Scholarship for International Students through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Her first major was linguistics and intercultural communication, and she was awarded a full-ride scholarship from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation.
Aside from running her company, Lidiia also focuses her efforts on sharing her expertise and insights in the public policy field. She conducts research, writes articles and participates in international conferences in the field of public policy and management. She plans to continue her education and apply for a PhD program in public policy. Lidiia is also a member of the International Public Policy Association (IPPA) and the Women in Public Policy International Network (WPPI). Recently, Lydia wrote a book called How to get a fully funded scholarship to study abroad, where she shares her experience with receiving a fully funded scholarship, attracting students from all over the world to study the social sciences—in particular, public policy and management.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I met my husband in high school. We both grew up in families of entrepreneurs. My husband received his foundational knowledge and practical skills in logistics from his father, who has a logistics business in Russia. My father has always been a part-time entrepreneur. He grows fruits, vegetables and flowers in his garden and sells them at the local market of my hometown in Russia. When I was a child, he often took me to the garden with him, where I helped him prepare bunches of cilantro and parsley, and then we sold them together at the local market.
When my husband and I finished high school, we moved together from our hometown to Moscow, where we continued our education. My husband studied economics and management, and I studied linguistics. We always had conversations about entrepreneurship. My husband dreamed of vehicles and logistics, and I thought that my focus would be something related to a language school: translations or international exchange programs for students. I did not think that it would be connected with logistics since that did not correspond to my linguistic education. However, I now see the correlation. If I did not study languages, I would not be able to study abroad, and I would not be able to run business overseas.
When we graduated from university, we both worked in the specialty. Later, I persuaded my husband to start a logistics business in Moscow. There were many people who tried to dissuade us because of their own fears, I think. But I was convinced that we had the potential; we had the appropriate skills and experience in management, and there was no sense of fear. We invested all our savings in our start-up and bought one truck. While I was working at the embassy, teaching business English to hotel staff in the evenings, my husband started a logistics business. After a couple of months, we received two contracts with large companies, and our truck began to bring additional profits.
Unfortunately, the business had to be abandoned because, in parallel, I had been striving to enter a foreign university for many years, and I finally received a fully funded scholarship in the field of public policy and management for my master’s degree program. My husband knew that this was my dream, so we decided not to miss this opportunity and went to study together in Brunei Darussalam and the USA.
While studying public policy and management at Georgetown University, my husband had the opportunity to work for several logistics companies. He wanted to understand how this industry worked in the United States. He said that he wanted to study English and do business overseas. I supported him, but we had to come back to Southeast Asia, where I needed to complete my education.
When we returned to the United States for the third time for educational and professional purposes, we started thinking seriously about opening a business in the United States. While my husband was studying English in college, I began to conduct research on entrepreneurship in the United States. I read articles, watched videos and spoke to local entrepreneurs from this industry in our area to understand how to start up our own business from scratch.
It turned out that the logistics business is quite promising. People living in the United States are very mobile. They move for several reasons, such as a rent increase, a new job offer in another state or city, a desire to live in a more favorable and comfortable location, higher education or family circumstances. In addition, someone might need to update their home or office furniture, while someone else runs a furniture recycling service and another designs and furnishes apartments for rent or sale—for all of these reasons, they would use the services of logistics companies specializing in the transport of household goods.
In March 2022, during the pandemic, we launched “DO THE LOCAL MOTION WITH ME, LC,” a logistics and moving company. The business provides local services in the DMV area (DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland). However, we also facilitate long-distance relocations to New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and other states. We cooperate with local realtors and interior designers in Northern Virginia and DC areas. In addition, we have become a business partner of one of the largest international companies in the renting and hospitality industry, namely Blueground, and we assist them with furnishing apartments in major cities in the DMV area.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My productivity throughout the day is based on a symbiosis of work–life balancing and planning. I try to eat healthy food, exercise, combine work, family, sports and education, and get enough sleep (no less than 8 hours). However, not all days are the same, especially when you run a business.
I start my day by checking a business inbox. I have several partners who need our services daily. They send their requests early in the morning. I answer their emails, forward details to our team, distribute work before 9:00 a.m., and make some changes to our schedule if necessary. Then, I have breakfast, get some coffee and read the news. Reading the news is compulsory; since I conduct research in the social sciences, I must be aware of global events.
Usually, I make a to-do list of tasks that I need to solve during the day. I employ an urgent-versus-important method in my work. First, I implement the most important tasks, namely, time-sensitive tasks. Subsequently, I gradually solve less urgent tasks and later switch to mundane issues. Sometimes, I do not have time to complete the entire to-do list, and I carry these tasks over to the next day and apply the method mentioned above.
During the day, I communicate with clients and our partners. I am always in touch with my team, especially when we furnish apartments. I coordinate the entire process, answer our team’s questions, resolve issues that arise during the day and send out updates to our key partners. I am also in charge of financial work. I check and send invoices to our clients, even though we have an accountant. In the near future, I plan to delegate many responsibilities.
In addition, I try to read every day while searching for materials for scientific articles and conferences on public policy and management. I am preparing a portfolio for a doctoral program. I also have family and household chores. For instance, I cook almost every day. My husband and I love to eat homemade food. In the evening, I go to the F45. I greatly enjoy functional training and communicating with locals. Sport is essential for my health, as I spend considerable time at the computer.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As far as business is concerned, I usually test my new ideas and approaches in practice and determine whether they work. For example, some clients in our industry may withhold information on their inventory list and scope of work when they want to relocate. Unfortunately, this leads to several issues, such as work inefficiency, schedule hiccups and client disillusionment. The team can become overworked and tired quickly because the client’s inventory list does not correspond with reality and there are fewer people working than is necessary according to set standards. This influences all stages of our performance. I decided to create a quick 4-item questionnaire that would help employees and me assess the amount of work and its idiosyncrasies. This helps both our team and clients develop a holistic picture of the relocation, such as how much clients will pay for moving services, how many hours it will take, how many people will be working and what type of vehicle they need for their relocation. This helps satisfy the expectations of both the clients and the team. Eventually, the 4-question questionnaire began reducing situations with incomplete information about the move. My idea is currently working, and I am happy about it. If a new idea or approach does not work for the business, I prefer to find another solution.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Sharing knowledge and experiences with other people through different resources on the Internet is one of my favorite trends because it is very practical and facilitates people’s lives. People can find useful information and solve their issues online whenever they are. For instance, when I wanted to start my own business in the United States, I looked for all the information on the Internet. I read articles about different entrepreneurs. I also conducted research to understand whether there were any discrepancies between two business structures: Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and Incorporation. When I learned that I needed an LLC for my business, I bought books and studied everything about LLCs. When I gathered enough information on LLCs, I watched videos on YouTube on how to register my business in the state of Virginia and found step-by-step instructions from those who had already engaged in the same business procedures in Virginia. I did the same thing when publishing a book on How to get a fully funded scholarship to study abroad. I also bolster this trend by sharing my own knowledge and experience with the public. For instance, I found that there are no step-by-step instructions on how to register a manuscript with the U.S. Copyright Office, and I published an article about it in the media.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I set short-term and long-term goals for the day, the week and the year. Let’s say I’m planning my future and thinking big. I will then invest my time and energy in achieving those goals. However, sometimes things do not go as I planned due to various external factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. However, entrepreneurship teaches me to find ways to get out of difficult situations and keep doing what I am doing despite the difficulties.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep learning English; it will help you travel, explore the world, communicate with people from different countries, learn new things, get inspired and develop an analytical mind. Focus on career development and education. Do not be upset or give up if things do not go your way. Take small steps forward to the future. Be patient and take advantage of the opportunities that are coming your way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Tertiary education and international experience assist individuals in developing professionally and help them reach the top of their fields. I know that many people will not bolster my statement. They can say that it is unnecessary and that people can be successful without a college degree. However, this does not work for me. In my case, education always guided me and provided me with new opportunities. Each educational program led me to a new international experience, place of residence and work opportunity while I accumulated knowledge, skills and new acquaintances.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Invest your time, money and effort in developing your talent, business, sports and good food.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Treat your customers the way you would like to be treated and run an honest business. This strategy will attract more customers and help your business grow. When you are transparent, people trust you and want to tell others about your business because they have a good experience working with you. For instance, if we are relocating a client’s household goods from one place to another, we never disguise the information about extra fees for heavy items or stairs. We send all the information to our clients by email, and I want them to eschew unexpected surprises at the end of the work.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When you are a business owner, you need to hire people to complete various short- and long-term business tasks. If you have never done this before, you may have trouble with it. A lack of knowledge about hiring the right people led me to my first negative hiring experience. For example, I have had several issues with IT professionals and graphic designers. They got down to business, but unfortunately, they did not carry it out properly or meet the deadlines. However, everything comes with experience!
My advice would be as follows:
● Elucidate the task properly and clearly communicate the requirements using a third-party company or a specialist
● Read their reviews
● Ask questions
● Send a pre-employment test to a third party or specialist if necessary
● Set the deadlines
● Sign the service agreement contract
● Do not pay 100% in advance for work or projects
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you are in the United States, I would recommend looking at the niche related to children’s education. For instance, it could be a school of extra-curricular activities for kids that can inspire them outside of school and unlock their potential. One school can combine different areas, such as engineering, robotics, programming, math, languages and cybersecurity. This would help identify gifted children and develop their creative and intellectual abilities. It could also provide teachers with a part-time job and an opportunity to receive extra money for tutoring.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently attended an international public policy conference in Hungary and presented my paper on authoritarianism. I had to read a broad spectrum of literature to write an article on this topic, and I bought several books and articles written by sociologists and political scientists. I invested in knowledge, and in return, I received a certificate from the conference. I was subsequently invited to apply for a PhD in Hungary, and I contributed to the field of public policy, which will be a good bonus for my PhD portfolio.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Small businesses love the Square application. I also use it for my business. Square’s software includes payment processing, inventory management, basic employee management, customer relationship management (CRM), reporting and analytics. With this application, I can send estimates, confirmations, invoices, receipts and service agreements to our customers. It is easy to use, and there is no training required.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am not going to recommend a book that helps founders launch and build businesses because this information can be easily found on the Internet. My reading advice would be Jack London’s semi-autobiographical novel, Martin Eden. It should appeal to those who would like to read about a self-made man with the tenacity and determination to accomplish his goals. The protagonist of this book is an uneducated sailor from the proletariat class who is trying to achieve his place among the literary elite through self-education. The plot of this book tells the reader about the ups and downs of Martin Eden’s career, how he struggled to make ends meet to satisfy and support his writing, how he received several rejection letters from various publishers and eventually how he became a literary sensation. Unfortunately, this book ends tragically. However, such a tragic end taught me that, having achieved one’s goal, a person should not stop there. The pleasure from what has been achieved can be very short, and the path to the goal can be long and challenging. Having achieved one goal, people must set other goals and evolve new strategies to achieve them. For example, Martin Eden could have taken a different path, and he could have helped other young professionals achieve their goals.
What is your favorite quote?
“Seek knowledge, even if it takes you to China.” I found it in one of the books in the library of the University of Brunei Darussalam when I studied public policy and management there. I really liked this quote because it reflected my life experience. I have a wanderlust with educational and professional purposes, and I never thought that my curiosity and desire to learn something new would take me to Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia. For instance, the idea of obtaining a PhD took me to the United States again, where I also started a business in the form of a logistics and moving company with my husband.
- Develop your talent and business. Invest your time, money and effort in your education and career. Do not forget to maintain a work–life balance.
- When you achieve something in your life, do not stop there. Set new goals and evolve new strategies to achieve them.
- Seek to improve, motivate and inspire others whenever you are.
- Share your experience and knowledge with the public. Make our society better.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.