How separate should faculty start-ups be as university spin-offs?

June 5, 2014

faculty startup; faculty research; university startup; autm technology transferI am a former patent examiner and registered patent attorney.  I worked as a Technology Transfer Specialist in the Office of Research at my alma mater, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.  I managed the College of Engineering’s technology.  I went on to become Old Dominion University’s Director of Intellectual Property and Research Compliance.  Many research universities take equity share ownership in and provide supporting resources to faculty members that the university has encouraged to venture out and start up a technology based business involving their research on campus.

Andrew Campbell’s May 26, 2014 Harvard Business Review article entitled “How Separate Should a Corporate Spin-Off Be?” intrigued me.  Campbell cited large corporate examples including Shell, BAT, Virgin Group and Unilever.  But, it strikes me as a question that should and often is considered with respect to research universities and their faculty’s small corporate spin offs.

When businesses set up a separate business unit, David Campbell posed the following questions:

  • Which corporate policies should apply to the new division and which should not?

With university faculty start-ups, many of the university’s policies still apply to the faculty member since the faculty is still on staff.  Many university’s follow business ethics policies such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Statement on Corporate Funding of Academic Research adopted by the Association’s Council in November 2004.  This Statement mentions problems that arise when universities actively encourage faculty members to form private research companies to promote licensing of innovations.  The AAUP states that a faculty member’s entrepreneurial instincts may lead her to try to identify and patent discoveries that will have a payoff and “[t]he danger exists that universities will be so assimilated into society that [they] ..must guard against being harnessed directly to social purposes in any way that undermines the fundamental character of the university”.  Thus, a university’s culture and policies related to its vision of its ivory tower role would have to be taken into consideration!

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President Lemongrass Consulting

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Using Twitter – 8 Tips – Part Three

June 4, 2014

online marketing, facebook marketing, linkedin, twitter for marketingI have written two (2) blog articles about my journey using Twitter.  The first was for beginners called “Do you Tweet?“.  I followed this with a Part Two.  A lot of business owners set up their Twitter accounts and then they get frustrated with trying to figure it out.  I bought a Twitter for Dummies book which was very helpful.

Initially, I followed other women business owners.  I went to trade organization meeting for women business owners and we were all encouraged to follow one another.  Well, it is great to support one another.  These follows make increase your business website traffic too.  However, at the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if the folks you are following and the folks that follow you back are best for your business growth and development.

I joined Twitter in 2009.  Last year, I began to lose interest in this social media site all together.  I would scroll through tweets by folks I was following and very little seemed to matter to me with regard to my business’ growth.

Then, on Facebook, someone posted how he was really reaching key business leads and sending them pitches.  He was getting appointments and making deals.  I had an “Aha” moment.  My problem was that many of the folks I was following and who followed me were not my ideal business targets.

Here are eight (8) tips:

  1. Be clear on what you are passionate about – - state this in your Twitter profile and photo images
  2. Be clear to identify products and services that you want to sell that are in alignment with what your passions
  3. Draft a list of ideal prospective clients — I have listed ours on our website
  4. Use the Twitter search tool to find your ideal folks and follow them – - be very selective on who you decide to follow

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Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

WTH are you doing? Overcoming lost self-confidence in business

June 3, 2014

feeling disappointedA small business owner on Facebook recently posted a cry for help.  She said she was wondering “WTH am I doing?”.

Many business owners get the WTH “what the heck” am I doing feeling from time to time.  This probably occurs most frequently after getting rejected and the feelings of disappointment that follow.  You may lose some of your confidence.  It’s ok.  The bottom line is that it is a signal to stop, reflect, plan a strategy, and implement a strategy.

To overcome the feelings of lost self-confidence and anxiety, here is a simple five (5) step plan:

  1. Start by writing down your statement of purpose – Always begin with seeking clarity and with having a clear mission in mind. Reflect on your career and your life and ask write down the answer to this question: “What are you passionate about?”
  2. Next, do a Self SWOT to list your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This will give you a quick Strategic Plan outlook.

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc

9 Leadership lessons from War Leaders

June 3, 2014

fdr-and-churchillI watched the History Channel’s special entitled “The World Wars” about war leaders such as Mussolini, Douglas MacArthur, FDR, Winston Churchill, and Adolph Hitler.  I have counseled hundreds of small businesses and worked under several leaders over the course of my careers.  Often, the competitive nature of business development has been and can be compared to being at war.  Here’s nine (9) leadership lessons I learned from the war leaders:

  1. Have fast moving forces – Adolph Hitler was known for having fast moving forces that could punch a hole in the enemy’s territory and their speed would impact the enemy’s nervous system.  This was called a brain and heart assault.  I have witnessed many, many slow moving business leaders and equally slow moving troops that follow.  Being decisive and well trained to move out fast in business can help knock out the competition.  Leaders bear the responsibility to make judgments and motivate their troops to move out quickly.  The competition would not know what hit them!
  2. Be not a dictator in your business – On the History Channel program, Colin Powell explained that dictators think that they know best; they do not listen to others; and they do not keep anyone around them that will tell them otherwise.  Years ago, I worked for a dictator.   Many years ago, I worked for a dictator who was a small business owner.  He never listened to his staff’s ideas and if they did not agree with him, he would fire them.  I later found out that when I left, he had cycled through more than 60 professional staff people.  This is a ridiculously high turn over rate in his industry.  If you are guilty of this, then it is best to go see a psycho therapist and get some professional help fast!
  3. Know your competition’s, client’s, and prospect’s ultimate dreams – With respect to Adolph Hitler, his ultimate dream was to gain world dominance.  Trying to appease someone like this to avoid war and to negotiate diplomatic solutions is fruitless.  Very few small business leaders take time out to study their competition, client’s and prospect’s, get to know what makes them tick, and study their long term goals.  The more intelligence you know about what they need, want, and their mission, the better you can strategize what might work in business negotiations.

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD President Lemongrass Consulting

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

 

4 Mistakes Business Owners Make

May 31, 2014

good-choices-bad-choicesLet’s get to some core issues that stunt professional development and growth!

Over the holidays, I encountered four (4) people that said things that disturbed and concerned me.  I want to share them because we can all learn from these.  Here are four (4) mistakes that business owners make:

1.       Reluctance to look in the mirror and Self SWOT

In November, I gave a lecture to a group of business women in Macon, Georgia and shared it online in about 50 Facebook and Linkedin groups I belong to.  The emphasis was on planning for 2014 by doing three (3) things: (1) self SWOT, (2) SWOT of your business, and (3) planning sales activities.  A SWOT is simply an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  You plan activities that increase strengths and opportunities; and decrease weaknesses and threats.

Several ladies shared with me in December that they conducted their Self SWOT.  They were excited about it and said that taking the time to reflect and write things down was very revealing, somewhat uncomfortable, but good for them overall.  But, one lady contacted me and said she was going to share the worksheet with her clients.  She said she was lucky and was very successful; and had been assessed to death.  She did not see a need to do a self analysis.  She implied that she did not need to self SWOT.

Well, the fact is we all need to take a look in the mirror.  The key word that stood out with this lady was “luck”.  Perhaps her success was merely by way of luck.  This type of success is fleeting.  Business owners should make improvements in the way they think and operate so that business growth and success is sustainable.

One lady said that she had been in business for a long time since the early 80s.  Her tone implied that she did not need to plan or self SWOT because she had it all figured out.  Perhaps she felt she had arrived.  Well, again, that’s the wrong attitude.  No matter how successful you are, planning and assessments can help you grow and be even more successful!  Even Richard Branson believes in business strategy and planning.  He believes in having detailed and realistic legal, financial and operational plans.  The SWOT is not lengthy or formalistic.  A lot of folks are reluctant to take that closer look because it might be uncomfortable or painful.  But, it could help them grow their business and grow as a professional.

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

Painting bridges in business development

May 30, 2014

I started my careebuilding relationship, building the bridges, building bridge, business and developmentr in construction research 30 yrs ago.  I spent five (5) years as a road and bridge construction engineer in the field. I moved into urban planning and went to law school at night.  Eventually I practice and taught business law, zoning law, land use and intellectual property law.

When I started my firm Lemongrass Consulting in 2005, a small business counselor told me to get on the phone and make appointments to meet people.  He said visualize it as though you are painting a bridge.  You need not stop until you paint the entire bridge.  You cannot leave the bridge partly painted.

Well, I got on the phone and got appointments.  I also learned that I did not need appointments to confidently get into the right people’s faces.

The key here is to be sure to talk to “the right people”.

It took me awhile and with alot of trials and testing, I figured out the hard way who our ideal businses prospects are.  In business, you have to have clarity on four (4) key areas:

  1. what services or products folks need,
  2. what they are willing to pay,

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By Clovia Hamilton MBA JD, President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Because we’ve always done it this way!

May 29, 2014

organization change management, leading change, leadershipWe offered a webinar in partnership with Atlanta Technical College awhile ago entitled “Leading Change”.  Someone on Facebook asked what is “Leading Change”… what is that all about?

Well, here’s my response:

“Business leaders must be prepared for constant changes in its people, technology, information processing, communication, and competition.  A business may be experiencing pressures of natural changes or may want to plan for change in its:

  • people
    • culture
    • structure
    • relationships
  • technology
    • need for better systems
    • social media tools
  • information processing
    • data collection
    • order handling
  • communication 

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD President of Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

Having a spotter in business development!

May 28, 2014

business and developmentI recently watched Mark Wahlberg’s movie Shooter “again”.  I really like that one!

It reminds me of business development.  You know, you really should not go it alone.  There should be a business development team.

For any one deal you are going after, it would be neat to have a spotter.  In the movie Shooter, actor Mark Wahlberg’s character is a sniper and he loss his spotter.  It was his good friend and military comrade.  So, he recruited actor Mike Pena as his spotter.

In business development, it would be neat to have  a spotter to tell you what’s out their with respect to business competitive intelligence.  The spotter was the sniper’s look out man.  He’d say:

  • You’ve gotta get out of there!
  • Incoming …2 o’clock!
  • Their right in front of you!
  • They’re all over the place!

Not to make light of military maneuvers. but it would be really cool to have folks in settings like government agency prebid meetings or competitive pitch interviews to tell you what the prospects’ staff and what your competition is up to… competitive intelligence.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

7 Business Startup Advice Tips

May 27, 2014

business startup advice, free business tipsMy firm Lemongrass Consulting will be 10 years old next year!  I was recently asked what advice I’d give to startups.  Here are tips:

  1. To test the waters while working with market research on what services or products folks need, what they are willing to pay, who the ideal willing and able buyers are, your strategy to reach them – - draft a business plan and marketing plan!
  2. To save money or get an investor to fund your outreach to prospective buyers
  3. To avoid credit cards and loans
  4. To learn how to set up systems: payroll, income tax, marketing and sales systems

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By Clovia Hamilton, President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc

(c) 2014 All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

MEMORIAL DAY IS ABOUT REMEMBERING THOSE THAT GAVE!

May 26, 2014

2014 Memorial DayMemorial Day is about remembering soldiers that gave their lives to protect the United States.  It is also about remembering the service men and women that are currently on post.  We rely on their commitment and dedication.  Many of us take it for granted.  Many Americans simply feel that these men and women get paid a salary and are merely doing the job their getting paid to do.  But, how many civilians are getting paid to put their lives on the line?  They are giving of themselves in a manner which is much much more than some folks give them credit for.

In general, it is so important for all of us to give “before” we need something in return.  I recently read an article about Social Debt by Mark Synek.  Mark wrote that social debt “is the act of doing something valuable for someone without being asked…a way of making yourself memorable to your connections”.  Mark’s article “What if you lose your job?” emphasized the importance of doing valuable things for your connections before you may need them.  It’s important for job hunters and for business owners who are engaged in business development.

It’s common sense and many of us were taught this when we were children.  But, I’m amazed at the fact that few adults make time to do it.

Here are three (3) ways you can give back and pay your Social Debt:

  1. volunteer with charitable organizations.  For example, I help the Pullman Foundation because they gave me an undergraduate scholarship and they help underprivileged youth who live in the community I went to high school in.  I review scholarship application essays for them.  It takes a few hours of my time.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc.


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