Archive for the ‘business’ Category

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.

12 BUSINESS LESSONS FROM “THE FAMILY” MOVIE

December 30, 2013

free business tips, training in business, Robert De Niro actor, Michelle Pfieffer, The Family movie, best Christmas movies, New Years movieI rarely get to sit still long enough to watch movies.  But, for Christmas, we bought “The Family” DVD from Walmart.  This movie features Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfieffer.  It’s a really, really funny movie about a gangster who is in the witness protection program.  If you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend that you buy or rent it.

Robert De Niro plays the father and Michelle Pfieffer is his wife.  Well, the father decides to write his memoirs and outlines 10 rules he lives by.  If you following my blog articles, you know I love to cull business lessons out of movies.  I have written two (2) blog articles about lessons we can learn from The Godfather trilogy.   For fun, here are 10 business lessons we can learn from Robert De Niro’s character:

1. I don’t like to cause pain for no good reason because all of my sadistic urges are satisfied when I cause pain for a reason.

In business, there is no need or good reason to cause anybody pain (smile).  For example, there is no need to chase down your competitors’ clients and customers by pointing out negative things about your competition.  I have observed a lot of this ill will and bad behavior in the consulting arena.  Most of the people that behaved that way toward me in response to my entering the arena are now out of business.  Deliberately trying to hurt people in order to get work will rebound against you.

2. Anybody who doesn’t contradict me can expect nothing but good things from me.

This is actually a bad belief to embrace.  The best lessons you can learn will likely be from wise mentors and coaches that contradict what you believe and what you practice.  The good mentors and coaches will push you to think outside the box and to move outside your comfort zone.

3. When I ran the community, there was never a single robbery in the street.  People lived and slept easily.

Casting the mob boss role aside, it is indeed very important to be a part of the community and to try to make your community a better place.  Business owners can attend city council, county commission, and regional development meetings.  We can become active in civic groups like Civic Leagues, Rotary or Kiwanis.  We can also get active in church activities.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

10 More Business Lessons from the Godfather

November 29, 2013

business, business development, business strategy, entrepreneuralism, female entrepreneurs, leadership, women owned small business

Yesterday, I watched the Godfather movies for maybe the 50th time (smile).  Here are ten (10) business lessons I gleaned from the movies:

  1. If a prospective business partner behaves badly, hold-your-cool.  Be kind, shake his hand, compliment him, thank him, and be on your way.  Never lose your cool. Besides the Godfather, my favorite character is Tom Hagan.  He never lost his cool.
  2. Insist on hearing bad news immediately.  I’m guilty of not wanting to hear bad news or negative feedback.  It is best to hear it and act on it immediately.
  3. Never ask for a second favor is the first one is refused.
  4. Build a supportive business family around you.  Have folks on your team that are loyal and supportive.  If there is any inkling of disrespect, ill will, or backstabbing, then get rid of them quickly.  Hire slowly and fire fast.
  5. Only see business prospects if they are serious and respectful.  Otherwise, do not take the meeting.                                                      read more

SWOT and Sales Activities – Plan for 2014

November 21, 2013

business development, business strategy, entrepreneuralism, female entrepreneurs, networking, sales, self improvement, small business, strategic planning, women owned small business, Macon Georgia

ac·tion  noun \ˈak-shən\

:  the bringing about of an alteration by force or through a natural agency

:  the manner or method of performing

ac·tive  adjective \ˈak-tiv\

: doing things that require physical movement and energy

: characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation <an active life>

ac·tiv·i·ty  noun \ak-ˈti-və-tē\

:  the quality or state of being active

:  vigorous or energetic action :  liveliness

:  something that is done as work or for a particular purpose

strategy in business; sales leads; sales prospecting; SWOT; strategic planning; strategic management; sales executive; business and strategy;I had big fun at the Greater Macon Women Business Owners meeting last week.  We had a great taste of Italy at the Buca de Beppo restaurant in Macon, Georgia.  I gave a short talk about activities that women in business can plan to pursue in 2014.  We also talked about the importance of conducting a Self SWOT analysis and having a facilitated SWOT analysis of our businesses done.  I serve as a facilitator!  Lastly, I gave the ladies a worksheet for tracking Sales Activities.

I think that all too often business owners that struggle look to others to rescue them.  The owners pout and justify their poor performance by saying it simply is not their time or season; or they are upset that someone did not bring them into some work.  I bet if you really looked at how active they are in business development, their level of activity would be pretty low.  Business development activities need to be performed daily – – rather than when the work runs out and it is too late.  The level of activity needs to be vigorous, energetic, lively, and with the purpose of achieving real, measurable goals.  Read more and Get the SWOT and Sales Activities Worksheet!

 

by Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2005-2013 Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Sales Pipeline Lesson from Mad Men

September 4, 2013

sales pipeline management, mad men season, sales account managerMad Men is one of my favorite shows since it depicts a real start up business in motion.  One lesson I have put into practice is a good old fashioned way of seeing deals go from

See the photos from the Mad Men show where the firm lost a big tobacco account in a 2010 episode.  So, they regrouped to see what they had in their sales pipeline.  The account men and leadership used a good old fashioned chalk board to split their deals into 4 categories:

(1) Existing

(2) Likely

(3) Maybe

(4) Longshot

sales pipeline management, mad men season, sales account managerI used this to develop my own little visual tool that I have on a white board in front of my desk and in an Excel spreadsheet … read more

Don’t get Hung Hanging Out

August 14, 2013

Women in business, small business, business development, business travel, federal government contractingYears ago, a mentor told me that to be successful in business you have to be willing to simply hang out with folks.  You really do!

I started making deals once I started hanging out at:

  • prebid meetings
  • small business conferences
  • chamber meetings

… and just plain old-fashioned asking for face to face appointments and scheduling phone chats.

However, what start-up business owners are not told is to watch your expenses.

Trade dues, chamber memberships, parking and lunches can get expensive.   One year I spent $10,000 in trade dues and membership directory ads.

I recently talked to a small business specialist in a federal government agency.  Read more…

Quicksand and Business Failure

July 21, 2013

failure of business, failure in business, overcoming fearOne of my favorite scenes in the movie Replacement Players is where the Quarterback Falco (played by Keanu Reeves) tells the team that his greatest performance fear is “quicksand”.  He says that he feels as though he’s in quicksand when everything is going fine; and then one thing goes wrong; and then another; and then another.  He says that you try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink until you cannot move.

Many entrepreneurs face paralysis.  They may have some active clients and work, but not enough to make ends meet.  They may get work but cannot perform due to lack of competence or the lack of physical manpower.  Falco describes quicksand as a situation where you cannot breathe because you are in over your head.

In the movie Replacement Players, Falco was accused falling apart and choking whenever the game was on the line.  His coach tells the team to face their fears and overcome them as a team.  He tells them they need hear t and they need to play like winners – – because winners always want the ball.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President of Lemongrass Consulting

8 Public Relations Lessons from Sex and the City

June 23, 2013

public relations, corporate partners, be a starI know, I know.  The show no longer airs.  But, that does not keep me from watching old episodes on DVD.  One of my favorite episodes is when the character Samantha (“Sam”) talks to her young boyfriend Jerry Jerrod about his acting career.  Sam owns a public relations firm.  We’ve seen her on the job.  It’s just her and an assistant – typical small business.

Well, Sam offered the following eight (8) tips and implemented this action plan to catapult Jerry’s acting career:

  •  She remained Jerry to the name “Smith”.  Jerry was the business product.

Lesson 1: If your business name is not working, rename it.

  • Sam asked Smith if acting was really what he wanted.   She said, if it was “really” what he wanted, then she would help him.

Lesson 2: I have met a number of business owners and career professionals that are on the fence about whether or not they “really” want to sell the products and services they originally set out to sell.  If you really want it bad enough, you might be able to line up professional help.  Why should someone believe in you and help you if you do not really believe in yourself and want your own success?

  • Smith asked Sam, “you’ll help me be an actor?”   Sam replied, “No. I’ll help you be a star!”

Lesson 3:  If you go into it, go big!  Become a celebrity, star performer!

  • Sam turned Smith’s hum drum play into a red carpet event.   Sam gets a newspaper article about the play; she invites the press; she rolls out a red carpet; and she invites glamorous socialites.

 

Lesson 4: If we hold events, notify the local press.  Try to get a news article out of it.  Invest in advertisements.  Send out special invites.  Do it up in a big way!

  • Sam advised Smith of her performance metrics.  She said first he would gain the following of gay men; then girls; and then the industry.  Sam and Smith were in a bar and a group of gay men told Smith they were fans.  Later, a group of young girls ran to Smith in the street for autographs.  Sam then knew they were on their way.

 

Read more …

25 Free Small Business Lessons

May 17, 2013

If you are seeking training for your existing business; or if you intend to launch a business, this article should prove helpful.

Here are 25 pillar small business development lessons I learned during the first five (5) years after launching my consulting firm Lemongrass:

1. Lift as you Climb and Stay Uplifted

You need balance.  Do not get so involved with volunteering to get your foot in doors that you neglect your cash flow.  Also, as you help others, be sure to do what it takes to stay positive, smiling and uplifted in spirit.

 2. “The more you reason, the less you create” – Raymond Chandler

Be sure that you are not spending your days with busy work.  For example, do not spend most of your time on filing, direct mail tasks, or social media marketing.  Automate and outsource.  Be sure that the bulk of your day is on serving customers and bringing in new business.  This means cold calls, emails, schedule visits, attending events, etc.

 3. You need to have Gumption! 

You need ready, quick willingness to take initiative and shrewd common sense.

4. Get away from dysfunctional people.  Surround yourself with supportive people.

5. Don’t go day by day. 

You need vision to see the week, month, year, and years at a glance.  List the goals that you want accomplished by the end of the week.  Envision yourself getting a nice reward for getting it all done.  This could be a nice fine dining experience and a spa treatment.  You can also vision checks coming in and bills getting paid.

Read more at: http://lemongrassplanning.com/25-free-small-business-lessons/

By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc

Small Business Hoarders and Fear of Lost Control

March 3, 2012

I enjoy the television show Hoarders. I love it when the troubled folks’ homes are transformed for the better. My mom (now deceased) was a hoarder. My brother and I would clean and put things in the alley; and she would go behind us and bring the items back in. It did not matter that some items were full of mildew or had other issues. Our home never looked like the homes featured on the show Hoarders. But, we had stockpiles of stuff stored everywhere. There are a lot of reasons my mom held on to things closely. She grew up poor; suffered a lifetime of losses; and she was a housewife with very few things she could call her own. It was always about not wanting to lose anything; power and control. For my mom, to lose things would be to lose apart of herself.

Hoarders and their struggle to change remind me a lot of struggling business owners. Well, I recently read Deborah Jeanne Sergeant’s article “Fear Means Failure” for the Home Business magazine March/April 2012 issue. She interviewed author Tom Rieger about how fear impacts home businesses. Tom Rieger talked about territorialism and empire building. Tom stated that territorialism is when someone exerts excessive control over budget, information, or employees. He stated that the fear of loss of that control is what drives these business leaders. With respect to empire builders, when they feel their empire is threatened, there is conflict.

Tom Rieger explained that people will do things to prevent the loss by erecting walls or holding onto processes – no matter what. Rieger stated that success requires change and to change you have to give up something. The lost is fearful.

I have had several business coaches and mentors. The best ones have urged me to get pass denial, get at the root of what fears me, and to be about making improvements. Change is tough. I have counseled business owners at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center. The struggling businesses are led by folks that are in denial and are unwilling to make changes.

Some struggling business owners need to give up entirely. Some need reinvent themselves. Either way requires change.
What gets in the way? Some of the folks featured on the show Hoarders have stated they fear they will lose everything.

Here are some of the traits that hoarders have. If you are a small business owner, these are traits to beware of. Do a self assessment. Do you exhibit any of these traits?

1. Obsessive Compulsive behavior

a. Compulsive shopping

i.      obsessive need to acquire and keep things (in business it can be inventory, supplies, or tech toys)

ii.      keeps collecting

iii.      too attached to objects; believe that the stuff is apart of themselves

b. Hoard busy work

c. Hanging onto stuff – not delegating, not letting go

d. No limits are set

e. Think that all things have unsurpassable value

2. Depressed, Unhappy, Discouraged, Disappointed

a. Feeling let down
b. Letting others down
c. Use anger to control others and to get what you want
d. Have intense sadness

3. Confused
a. Lack direction
b. Lack focus
c. Lack clarity
d. Lack structure
e. Lack stability
f. Indecisive
g. Poor judgment

4. Babied
a. Don’t want to take responsibility
b. Not doing for self; looking to others to take care of them
c. Looking for others to say “clean that up”
d. Surrounded by enablers
e. In perpetual victim role blaming others

5. Overwhelmed
a. Under a lot of pressure, stressed
b. Have a lot of weight on your shoulders
c. Feeling that it is just too much to handle
d. Allowing things to get too out of control
e. Taking on too much
f. Completely disorganized; so cluttered (mentally and/or physically) that even the most basis tasks have become impossible

6. Low self esteem
a. Not caring enough about appearances
b. Not caring enough about hygiene
c. Minimize their own care, standards, and needs

7. Avoidance
a. In denial and do not see anything wrong; thinks everything is fine when it is not
b. Delusional, Desire to escape reality, living in a fantasy
c. Alienates oneself from the world of criticism
i. Lonely
ii. Isolated; little interaction with others
d. Not wanting others to see what is really going on
i. Ashamed
ii. Embarrassed
e. Not wanting to deal with tough issues
f. Showing no emotions, no responses about the bad situation
i. Keeps a tight leash on emotions
ii. Don’t allow themselves to have their emotions; push emotions away
iii. Avoid painful emotions
g. Just go with the flow; don’t get excited about things
h. Just don’t want to think about it
i. Don’t realize you are in a state of crisis; don’t realize how bad things are

8. Stuck, not moving forward
a. Emotional paralysis
b. Lost inside their own head
c. Don’t care anymore
d. No energy

9. Fear of losing memories of the good times

10. Hard and ugly
a. Hard to handle
b. Hard to take
c. Hard to be around, drives people away
d. Abusive, antagonistic
e. Extremely stubborn

Besides the show Hoarders, we see these traits in the business owners featured on shows like Tabatha and Kitchen Impossible.

Hoarders hoard control. Fear keeps them enslaved. They cannot picture someone coming in and telling them what to do. If you are a struggling business owner and you suffer from any of these characteristics, get help. You may not have a home or business establishment that looks like the extreme cases we see on the show Hoarders, but most struggling business owners exhibit some of the characteristics of hoarders. They need a business coach or mentor to help them push pass their fears. They may also need an organizational assessment, direction, clarity, leadership and organizational skills.

Our businesses are our babies. Our babies deserve the best. On the show Hoarders, when children are involved, the hoarder may be threatened with a call to child protective services. In a failing business, there is no such agency to call.

The struggling business owner may need to let go and cut losses by selling or closing the business. They may need to reinvent and make some changes. In business, we have to be able to feel distress and be able to push through distress. There is a lot of rejection in sales. Rejection is painful. You have to be willing to go through the anxiety. Connecting to people is what’s important – not to objects. You have to be able to focus on the big picture.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and has served as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services.

Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
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