Archive for the ‘female entrepreneurs’ Category

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


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.

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.

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.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc

Approaching Sales with Positivity – Building a 10 Step Sales System

February 12, 2012

If you have been following my online posts over the years, you know that my least favorite thing to do in business is sales. My favorite tasks are marketing, research, writing, and customer service. But, there’s one thing we all know for sure. Without sales, there is no business.

Another thing I know for sure is that if we keep telling ourselves how much we dislike something, we will never learn how to do it and we will never see the good in it. So, this year I have a new mantra. This year, I am determined to be a better sales person. My focus is shifting because I am reminding myself that:

  • Sales is a way to connect with great folks and build great, long lasting relationships!
  •  These folks have needs that our products and services can meet!
  • Sales-Time is Fun-Time! Rah Rah!

The key for me is to make it a fun, social activity rather than drudgery.  This takes me back to when I was a kid and helped with a political campaign for a Chicago alderman.  I worked the phones.  I mailed things out.  What I enjoyed most was the whirl of activity and positive energy. So, I create a whirl of activity much like a political campaign room. Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I start with my contacts list.
  • Second, I visit the person’s website to see where we have synergy. I ask myself what products and services my firm offers that might help this person out.
  • Third, if I am connected with the person online in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, I reach out to them for an appointment.
  • Fourth, if I am not connected with the person online, I send them a friend request on Facebook, an invitation on Linkedin, and/or follow them on Twitter …and then, ask for an appointment.

Where’s the fun in this? The challenge is to “get in there”. Social media provides valuable access and a peep into my new friend’s world.

  • Fifth, I schedule two mailings. On this day, I mail out a post card. I also print a customized cover letter, relevant flyers, a brochure, and business card to mail out 2 days following the post card. I prepare it and lay it in my desk calendar on the day that it needs to get mailed. I use a desk calendar that has loose daily sheets in a 3 ring binder.

So far, I have completed about 3 touches with this person.

  • Sixth, I schedule a phone call for one (1) week out. The key for me is the scheduling. I use a form and list the folks that I need to call.
  • Seventh, if I have not talked to the person yet, I make the scheduled call. Yes, it’s a sales call. But, no – it’s not a “cold call”. Now, it’s a “warm call”. Now, I feel ok about it because we know a bit about each other. I’m getting further in there!
  • Eighth, I visit the person if they are local. I either meet them at their office or join them at a restaurant. I bring another packet of information and a promotional gift.
  • Ninth, I send a thank you note card.

Now, I have completed 6 touches with this person.

I keep the system physically very organized. I have a long sales table in my office. It contains a contacts binder with my contact list. My table contains address labels, envelopes, presentation folders, stamps, post cards, brochures, flyers, thank you note cards, business cards, and promotional items (small candy filled jars, tea lite candles, mini-calendars). I’m ready to crank it out!

  • Tenth, I send a retainer agreement. This is the 7th touch. I let them know that there is no obligation or pressure, but I would love to help them out. I list the products and services that are relevant to what we discussed.

My contacts database has about 7500 people and it grows whenever I attend trade meetings and other events. It also grows when I work on a sales campaign idea and build or buy a list of contacts that are ideal to pitch to. The key for me is to not feel overwhelmed by the numbers. I spend a few hours each morning on sales. I am usually up at 3am. I will buzz about, have fun, and plow through my list until coffee time at 6am. I do not really have a numbers goal. I just do as much as I can in 3 hours – which is pretty substantial.

The old saying is customers first, then sales first, then marketing. I am most energetic first thing in the morning. So, I do sales first. I reserve the 9 to 5 for work. Most of my marketing is online using social media and I do that at night from my bed. I write all of the government contracting bid proposals that are due the upcoming week on the weekend. I pick 3 to 5 to submit each week. Know your biorhythm and implement routines that work best for you and your lifestyle. But, be consistent and work on it every day. Having a sales system in place is also critical if you want to scale and grow. Now, you can easily train others to pitch in, follow your system, and help you with your firm’s sales.

What is your sales routine?

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.

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Five (5) Characteristics of Entrepreneurial Drive

November 20, 2011

I counseled a small business owner last week and she kept stating that she realized she just needed more patience. She was so frustrated with her firm’s performance that she felt debilitated. She kept stating that she knew that with patience she would eventually achieve her goals. I countered that it will take a lot more than patience.

My Webster dictionary defines patience as enduring without complaint; tranquil waiting or expectation. I don’t like these definitions. My beef with the tranquil waiting without complaint or expectation is that it lacks energy. I do like Webster’s definition of patience as endurance and perseverance. It takes discipline, consistency, perseverance, endurance, and motivation.

1. Discipline – entrepreneurs have to have the discipline to make sales calls, market the business, and get the customers’ work done on a daily basis. Do you think your daily behavior is disciplined?

2. Consistency – business owners have to develop routines and business systems that they execute consistently. Attending to customers, sales, and marketing must be consistently carried out every day. Do you try things once or for a short period of time and quit when there’s no immediate reward?

3. Perseverance – Webster defines this as the ability to persist despite difficulties. When you hit a road block, you find a way to go under, over, or around it. Webster also defines this as having a high sense of holding on to a worthy course against all difficulty, opposition, or hindrances. Do you persevere or do you cave in?

4. Endurance – Endurance requires energy. It helps to be in good physical and mental shape. It helps to be around energetic people. I recently distanced myself from a friend because he is incredibly lethargic and negative. His negative energy drained my positive energy and left me feeling depleted. His disinterest in doing anything more than being a couch potato unnerved me. I recently talked to a guy who said he did not understand why folks felt they needed to be surrounded by like minded individuals. Well, for me, at the very least, being like minded means having matched ambition and drive. What is your level of endurance?

5. Motivation – I think that many entrepreneurs know what they need to do to achieve the goals they want to achieve. However, many do not work on it because they lack motivation. There has to be something there to motivate small business owners to work as hard (and hopefully as smart) as we do.

Many years ago, I completed a Certified Public Manager training program. We studied Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in our introduction to motivation theory. We learned that people are motivated to get work done so as to satisfy needs. So, business owners need to not only reflect on their own unsatisfied needs but also the needs of other people they rely on to get work done through. The Maslow hierarchy of needs ranges from a pyramid’s base physiological needs (air, food, water, sleep, sex); to safety and security; to social friendship and belonging; to self-esteem, respect, and recognition; to the pyramid’s peak, complex self-actualization needs (challenges, creativity, growth, achievement, advancement).

According to Maslow, a person advances to the next level of the hierarchy only when lower needs are minimally satisfied. Take a moment to self-reflect. What are your unsatisfied needs? How can working on your business satisfy your needs?

One of my favorite woman owned small business advocates is Nell Merlino, founder of the Count Me In program and Make Mine a Million (M3) race. She teaches that women business owners need to save themselves. In Nell’s book, Stepping out of Line, she advocates that it helps to create a whirl of activity around us similar to a political campaign. Patiently and tranquilly lying in wait for your season or your day to come is not going to get it done. Actively working on our shortcomings and unsatisfied needs just might get it done!

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
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