Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

How to improve your Influence?

January 17, 2012

My Klout score was 46 and is now 36. It dropped to 32 at one point. I wanted all of the bloggers’ posts that I routinely read to appear on my twitter site. So, I used twitterfeed to rss feed the blog posts. Well, my Klout score went down. What was even more frustrating was that only one of the bloggers that I essentially promoted did thanked me – referral sales guru Bob Burg. Well, when my Klout score dropped I started joining Twitterchats and it went up by 4 points.

I also posted my wordpress.com blog on my Twitter page to try to increase reads and comments on my blog posts. I think this hurt my Klout score. I have since changed that wordpress url to my firm’s website url. I will report on whether that makes a difference.

The topic of clout or influence is trending. It has had me reflecting on what truly makes a person influential. It makes me wonder if I am an influential person with clout; and who in my network has clout and influence. I also wonder if entrepreneurs like me are using social media to increase marketing, visibility, and sales; or are we really trying to become more popular, gain influence, and increase our personal clout.

I’m an academic analytic. With all of my research, I begin with definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines clout as pull or influence. The dictionary defines influence as power, force, and the exercise of command:

 an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars
 an emanation of spiritual or moral force
 the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
 the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : SWAY

I like the word “emanate”. It makes me wonder what is emanating from me – what’s springing out, coming out, and coming across to others? I suppose one way to find out is to ask folks. We could ask image consultants. We could ask folks in our networks. I collect feedback I get online. All of it has been positive. Here are examples:

 You really get me going. Great motivation.
 Im so inspired by you & all that you do I’m inspired
 Happy Thanksgiving Clovia! You inspire me:)
 Dear Clovia, you always post value on Twitter and on Facebook. You are an example to follow.
 We need more people like you.
 Thanks for all you do!
 Thanks for your input. You are so very helpful.
 You have great style and the ability to communicate on the entrepreneur’s level.
 Thanks for the encouragement to stay focused!
 Thank you for the daily inspiration.
 I really enjoy your Social Media post. Thank you so much!!
 Clovia, I just followed you on twitter and checked out your website. Impressive…Thanks for connecting
 I follow you closely. I love what you are doing.
 You really do have it right and I’m glad that there’s someplace like Lemongrassplanning.com around to help people who realize that they need to set and manage goals, but maybe don’t know how.
 Thx for the free book. Lots of great insights & I didn’t know about Ping but am using it now!
 Happy New Year Clovia! Thanks for all the inspirational & motivational quotes.

If you are not studying what folks are saying about you, you probably should start. Collect the feedback and use Google alerts to see what might be stated about you that is not sent directly to you.

Lets get back to sales. Folks buy from who they come to know, like, and trust. So, perhaps you can influence a sale if you can get someone to if you cause someone click on a link and read an article; to comment on what you post; to click LIKE on your facebook business fan page; to click the + on the Google plus link; or to retweet and share what you post on Twitter.

Those of us in business know there is no direct correlation between the two. But, how much of a correlation is there between online social activity and sales?

Should there be a score for being inspiring, encouraging, motivating – rather than influential?

 

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 organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services.

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 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/
■ Follow us on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/lemongrass-consulting-inc.
■ Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans

■ LIKE us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LemongrassConsultingInc

 

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:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

5 Ways to Exercise and Increase your Energy

August 17, 2011

My latest quest is to lose weight. I lost 30 lbs a few years ago and it returned home with some friends. I am a task oriented creative. So, I read a lot and come up with great ideas for business development. I then write my ideas on Q cards and try to implement my new plans and strategies. What I have learned is that I simply need more energy to get it done. This is especially true since, like most small business owners, I cannot afford to hire a team to delegate it all to.

Exercise is not all bad if you develop the right attitude toward it and view it from a perspective that makes sense to you. For me, everything is pretty cerebral. So, that has to be my approach to getting right about exercising.

A few years ago, a business coach Gretchen Sutherland encouraged me to teach my 10 year old daughter better eating and exercise habits and serve as a role model to her. Of course, at the time, I did not listen. But, we are now pursuing it as a quality of life issue and I am viewing myself as a role model to my daughter. As I get older and really begin to combat the adverse impacts of aging, this is becoming more and more important to me.

Well, here are 5 ways we get our exercise in despite my busy schedule:

1. We walk. We actually walk and swing on a swing set. Swinging has always been one of my favorite things to do. So, we will walk around the parking lot of our local park and our end of walk treat is time on the swings.
2. We bike ride. This has been a bit of a challenge recently. My daughter has a flat tire. Also, I borrowed my son’s bike and took his bike back. Well, he’s now in the military. So, I plan to take my daughter’s bike to Sports Authority for the repair; and I am going to confiscate my son’s bike back (to save money).
3. We attend dancercise and step classes. I am most excited about these classes. I see my daughter getting stronger and coming into her own space. We go to my Health Management Organization (HMO) Kaiser Permanente. The classes are free. You cannot beat free; and they play hip hop music which is fun. My daughter wants to eat junk after the workout. So, I prep apple slices and a little caramel dip for her as a post class treat.
4. We follow aerobic instruction on DVDs. I found a great cardio workout DVD for just ten bucks at Walmart. My business coach told me that my sit ups, leg lifts and stretches were fine for toning. But, I did not break a sweat. I had to rev it up in order to burn calories. The DVD is not as excited as being around other motivated folks in live dance class.
5. I love to dance. I recently joined a local ladies club for divas in my community. We get together for activities like plays, movies, horse back riding, and dancing. I decided to really get out there and create a work-life balance – and just “plain ole have” fun! Although many of the activities are not really exercise. I think the mental downtime from work is important. Most importantly, networking and getting outside of your own head is priceless.

The key for me is to mix it all up so that I do not get bored.

How do you get your work out in?
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:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

5 Ways to have more Self-Discipline

July 7, 2011

Sky is the Limit with Self DisciplineDuring the July 4th weekend, I traveled to Lackland Texas to see my son graduate from the Air Force Basic Military Training. I was proud of him. He stood tall and was squeaky clean. He marched in a graduation parade and carried a flag. While in training, he wrote me and stated that his decision to enlist after two years of college was good for him because he no longer procrastinates. He was not allowed to. The drill instructors seemed to put the fear of God in my son. During the graduation, the leadership spoke about the fact that the purpose of basic military training is to discipline the trainees in how conduct themselves and behave.

On the way home from Lackland, I took a few photos of the sky from the airplane. I thought about how peaceful it was up there. I thought about how, with discipline, the sky is truly the limit.

During the trip, I finally read Nell Merlino’s book Stepping out of Line. She is one of my favorite advocates for the growth and development of women business owners. Well, interestingly, Nell wrote “making change requires commitment, focus and discipline”. So, I began to think more about what business owners could do to increase their self discipline. We should not have to rely on a drill instructor. We should be able to achieve our goals and as Nell puts it – save ourselves.

Webster’s dictionary defines self-discipline as the ability to “regulate yourself” to achieve improvement.

Here are five (5) ways to improve your self discipline:

1. Pray for it

I am no holy roller. But, I do find that what I pray to a Higher Spirit for, I usually get. When I am not consistent with prayer or do not pray for discipline, I usually lose consistency in my exercise, marketing, and sales routines. These are three areas I strive to improve.

2. Focus on the end results

I believe that self discipline requires a great deal of motivation. You have to be a motivated person. I use a vision board. I tack up visual depictions of what I want to achieve. I keep my vision board close to my bed and I look at it daily.

It helps to visualize yourself as a highly motivated self disciplined person who gets things done. It also helps to visualize the cash flowing into your bank account if you deal with sales and marketing and close deals and increase your cash flow. In fact, I need more visual aids of women making sales calls, getting sales copy written and emailed out, and marketing their businesses. For exercise, I have a visual aid of a woman who lost more than 100 pounds; a woman walking; a woman jogging; and a 60 year old woman who looks half my age.

3. Focus on Self Control in your Decision Making

As I raised my son, I often told him to exercise self control. I have been a bit of a drill sergeant. I would explain to him the importance of deciding to behave one way rather than another.

I believe that if business owners want to see real results in their sales, perhaps they need to improve their self control. I meet frustrated business owners that are in awful physical shape. They lack energy. I meet business owners that are looking for folks to save them and give them work. They get angry when the folks they approach do not help them. But, they are not working on their own sales and marketing.

You can lose self control if you get depressed and unmotivated. So, it is very important to be careful about who you spend time with. Do not spend time around unsupportive, judgmental people.

4. Exercise

Think about it, the military trainees ran, ran, ran. My son told me they ran all the time. In the article entitled “Why Do You Have More Energy After Running”, Chris Barber wrote that “[a]lcohol is a depressant and should make you tired, but it also releases endorphins, giving you the feeling of more energy.” Barber writes that a runner’s high results from the release of endorphins in the brain.

5. Eat anti depressant foods

The military trainees at Lackland also ate a strict diet. We are what we eat. If we want to feel motivated and energetic, then we need to eat anti depressant foods.

According to Amanda Schupak and Matthew Herper Forbes article entitled “Antidepressant Foods”, eat foods high in both Omega-3s and uridine. Omega-3s clear the buildup of dietary fats and cholestrols in our cell membranes, allowing those chemicals to get where they’re going easier. Further, the mitochondria are organs within cells that produce energy. Uridine fuels mitochondria, and paired with the lubricating effect of the Omega-3s, helps the mitochondria make more energy more efficiently. Food containing uridine include sugar cane extract, tomatoes, broccoli and liver. A dietary source for Omega-3s is fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines).

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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, and social media marketing strategic plans.

Connect with Clovia :
■ Phone: direct – 678.235.5901
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

3 Sources of Limiting Thoughts – Don’t Put Limits on Yourself

April 24, 2011

I attended a black business expo in southwest Georgia this past weekend. Allen Payne, one of the actors on Tyler Perry’s show House of Payne gave an appearance. He spoke about being from Harlem and how he was headed for trouble in the streets until he began to study acting. I too grew up in a rough and tumble inner city neighborhood. I was raised on Chicago’s south side in Roseland. There were drugs, there was prostitution, and there were fights. But my parents raised us differently and encouraged us to go to college.

What resonated with me as Allen Payne spoke was the message that to succeed, you must stop putting limitations on yourself. He spoke about limits that our loved ones can put on us; our peers; and ourselves. I think this is a valuable lesson for anyone, especially small business owners. This article shares some thoughts I have about how this rule of thumb should be applied by small business owners.

First source – Loved Ones

You may have to love some friends and family members from a distance. If they are being negative about your desire to start and grow a business, then love them from a distance. Distance yourself from them. If you cannot physically relocate, then find a group of like minded individuals that can give you support. You may have parents, spouses, children, and others discourage you and tell you that you cannot make money. Find strength in God and don’t quit.

Second source – Our peers

Allen Payne talked about having to pass the thugs he once hung out with in order to get to the Actor’s Studio for training. I had a similar experience as a youth. I attended college classes at a local junior college and at Chicago State when I was in high school and participated in college prep programs at the University of Illinois in Chicago. When I was sixteen, I worked as a civil engineer in training at Harza. I had to pass our neighborhood thugs, and others that labeled me an uppity goody two shoes. Luckily, my parents taught us at an early age to hold our chin up and walk pass taunts.

That life lesson still applies. As a small business owner, you have to hold your head up and walk pass peers that are jealous, petty, unsupportive, or evil. You must surround yourself with supportive people. The use of social media and trade organizations are a great ways to find like minds. Meet online and take the conversation offline when there’s synergy.

Third source – Ourselves

You can put limits on yourself with nay saying thoughts and reluctance to move out on tasks that can catapult your business. From time to time, I talk to a fellow female business owner that I met in a small business development program. We share our business development challenges and ideas about how to improve our businesses. What I have notice over time is that on some ideas, she is quick to point out (a) how she has tried it once already and failed; (b) how it may become too costly; (c) how it can get you in trouble; and (d) how she would not try this and that because she just hates it.

Well, first of all, hate eats up A LOT of energy. You cannot succeed in business by trying something only once. You have to be consistent, work a routine, and be persistent. For example, it may take 6 to 24 months to land a first government contract. Further, successful entrepreneurs are optimists rather than pessimistic, risk averse people. Business owners can plan ahead to control costs and risks. One of my favorite quotes is “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George S. Patton”.

Getting back to Allen Payne – he shared a few other important lessons that I have lived by for years. It was refreshing to hear him share these sentiments. Allen spoke about seeing your life as a miracle and finding strength in God. He compared his journey and relationship with God to riding a wave. I have a similar experience.

Years ago I more than doubled my salary. I called it being on auto pilot. I simply moved out on faith; focused on my career goals and dreams; and set out on a journey that took me to several states and great career posts. This is the mindset you have to have to survive this down economy. Having the support and strength of a Higher Spirit certainly helps.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. Contact Clovia at http://www.lemongrassplanning.com or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

Recession Valentine Wish

February 13, 2011

Rather than chocolates, flowers, and jewelry, I want more clients and the ability to hire. I think most small business owners want the same. I counsel small businesses at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center and I have been engaged in a variety of small business development programs for years. I have witnessed several business owners struggle in this economy. Our priority this Valentines Day should be to push, press, and prod for more clients, revenues, and the ability to hire others.

So, how are we going to get there? In the Dec 2009 Businessweek slideshow entitled “Advice from Renowned Business Founders – Lessons from Women and Minority Entrepreneurs”, David Chang of the Momofuku restaurant was cited stating “you can work harder! You can push yourself to the limit. You have to if you want to succeed. I know you could put more hours in. Whatever you think you can do, you can do more. You can do more and you can do it better. Whatever standard you set, you can exceed your expectations and you can be your harshest critic.” I absolutely love this!

The bottom line is that we all need to do more. We need to work smarter rather than harder. We need to operate more strategically. We need to quickly draft or obtain strategic action plans and then quickly implement them. Let’s move out troops!

In order to revenue our way out of this, we need to up our marketing and sales games. It is time to build stronger relationships with prospects and clients; price our products and services where they are affordable and appealing to the masses; and increase visibility. We can turn this down economy around. I have Faith, Persistence, Positivity, and Optimism!

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

Negativity Zaps your Energy

February 6, 2011

When the HGTV show Holmes on Homes first aired, I enjoyed the show. I thought it was interesting how his construction firm specialized in cleaning up problems other contractors left their clients to deal with. But, over time, the show became annoying for me. Everything was so incredibly negative I felt that the show zapped all of my energy.
I also have a friend who has been so negative that I have had to love him from a distance. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a complaint or the words “no, not, never, ain’t, none, don’t, won’t, wouldn’t couldn’t, shouldn’t, impossible”. It is incredibly draining on the spirit.
So, I am now challenging myself and others to be much more careful in our choice of words. Let’s convert all negative sentences into positive statements. Here are some examples:
1. Change “I don’t want to work with that guy again” to “I would rather work with folks that share our vision”.
2. Change “I can’t make a million dollars in sales” to “I can find ways to overcome my challenges and make a million dollars in sales”; or better yet – “I will make a million dollars in sales”. Believe it! Own it!
3. Change “I can’t stand it when she does this” to “I would rather she take the time to get this right”.
4. Change “I don’t like chicken liver” to “I enjoy chicken thighs”.
I honestly believe that negative terms can be completely eliminated from our vocabulary if we put thought into it. Positive thinking helps us stay uplifted. It uplifts the spirit and energy level. As a procurement counselor, business owner, and parent, I need all of the energy I can muster. Please don’t bring me down. Well, forgive me for that bit of negativity and let me change that line to: “I want you to uplift my spirit!”.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and like Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

Go out there and Catch the Ball in 2011!

January 2, 2011

I watched the movie “The Replacements” starring Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves over the holidays for the millionth time. Gene played a football coach and Keanu Reeves played the scab quarterback leading a group of replacement football players during a strike. I do not watch much football, but I love this movie! I jotted down ten (10) things the coach shouted. These are all cheers leaders of organizations can use to rally the troops into the New Year.

1. “Go out there and catch the ball”
2. “Go wide – gotta have it – gotta have it”
3. “Leaders want the ball”
4. “Winners always want the ball”
5. “For leadership to work, the team must believe in each other”
6. “The Quarterback leads with heart”
7. “Play to win!”
8. “Put together a winning team”
9. “Play like there’s no tomorrow…that will make you very dangerous”
10. “Be part of something great….[because] greatness stays with you”

To succeed in business, you have to be able to catch deals – not fumble and drop them. To lead and win, you have to actually want deals and aggressively go after the work. I counsel small businesses in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center and I have met several business owners that do not submit bid proposals; do not go to networking events; and do not ask for appointments with buyers to pitch their products and services. Many expect that since they are start ups and small, or woman owned, or minority owned, then someone has an obligation to give them work. No, you have to get out into the field, run, jump, tackle and catch the ball.

Go wide is when a player moves to the outside edge of the field. In business, this would be analogous to going out of your way to avoid the competition to close a deal.

One rallying call that the coach made really ticked me off. He said “[losers] can’t shake off repercussions – that’s why girls don’t play the game….”what separates the winners from losers is getting back on that horse”.

I’m active in Nell Merlino’s Count Me In organization for Women’s Economic Independence and its Make Mine a Million (M3) program. I urge every small business woman owner who has not made it to the $1 Million mark yet to write $1Million on a sticky note and slap the sticky onto a football. Resolve to look at that football every day this year. Focus on that ball! Shake it off! This year is your year, so get back on that horse!

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

Year End Gift Giving: Knowledge is love and light and vision!

December 16, 2010

Helen Keller

One of my favorite quotes is “Knowledge is love and light and vision” by Helen Keller. This time of year, we put out Christmas lights to let our Santas know we were good all year and deserve a gift. Well, for business owners, the best gifts are the gifts of great advice. This advice and knowledge gives us love, light and vision – if we let it.

For many business owners, stretching ourselves into new arenas can be uncomfortable. Most folks resist change and fear the unknown. Years ago, having a more engaging website worried me. Next, social media networking seemed to be a chore that would drain all of my time. But, once I became more open to getting the advice and knowledge from others that were doing these things, I realized it was not so bad.

Let me give you two examples. First, about three years ago, I participated in the Georgia Governor’s Mentor Protégé program. Heery International was my mentor firm. It was a blessing. One thing they encouraged me to do was to take my one page simple website to another level. Their marketing staff urged me to create a website that was more engaging. They explained to me that nowadays folks want to learn more about businesses behind the scenes. They want to know more about the history, mission, purpose, services, founders, etc. For me personally, I did not care about that when I visited other folks’ websites. I felt that I did not have time to peruse a lot of web pages. I actually found that to be annoying. I just wanted to get at the information I needed and that was that. But, now I am realizing that taking the time to learn as much as possible about prospects and potential teaming partners is simply plain ole good for business. So when other business owners complain that they do not have time for web browsing, I tell them it is not about them. It is about doing what is best for their business.

To grow my firm Lemongrass Consulting, I have been working on a revenue model that incorporates social media. First, I took Heery’s advice and assistance and revamped my plain one page website to a more interactive one. We now have thirteen (13) pages that include a blog, fan page, and archived newsletters.

Next, I took a few social media classes offered through trade organizations; and read business articles on the subjects. I learned about ping, facebook, linkedin, twitter, constant contact, and blogging. I created a flow chart that I call a Revenue Model. The model begins with identifying our target market of ideal customers based on their service offerings and revenues and geographic locations; and whether we have other synergies and things in common (our race, gender, experiences). I then target these folks and try to connect with them online. I have done well as a newbie. I now have more than 1,000 connects on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Outlook. I now use gist to capture all of these connections. The total is more than 4,000.

My revenue model includes daily microblogging by posting a few things about what I have going on, the importance of strategic planning, famous quotes, and words of encouragement. I also have a wordpress blog that I try to write weekly; converting the weekly blogs to articles; posting the blogs in social media groups to get market penetration; and a monthly constant contact newsletter with more than 1,000 subscribers. I also give my new connections a free ebook that I wrote which are business development tips. These are all great marketing tools. It keeps my firm present in folks’ minds and I am building a community. I use google analytics and I can see that I get about 100 visitors a month to our website.

No matter how much you do, you can always do more. Next year, I want to peer more into my connections’ web pages and take the time to have more engaging dialogue with them. I also want to be sure to thank folks for connecting with me and take our conversations offline by scheduling teleconferences and face to face meetings.

But, let’s get back to the importance of being open to good advice. I mentioned having two examples. Here is the second. When I first revamped the website, I posted online that it was finally done. Well, one of my connections told me to do more than just have a Contact Us link that enables folks to email you. She said, “Clovia, I hope you don’t mind me giving you this constructive criticism”. I replied that I did not mind. But, it took me years to become open to changing that feature. I do know if it was ego, ignorance, or what. But, this year, I finally revamped the Contact Us link to capture more information about our website visitors. We also ask them to share their planning needs and choose services they may be interested in investing in.

The bottom line is that we need to view constructive criticism and business advice as a loving gift. For me, as Helen Keller put it, knowledge is the gift of light and vision. This holiday, give and accept light and vision!

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

Village Think: How can small businesses get motivated to think more strategically?

September 28, 2010

I have been reading recent Linkedin Group posts about what it takes to have a successful business. The discussions and debates remind me of the days I served as a university technology manager. In technology management (aka tech transfer) the great debate is whether the best tech managers are the PhDs, MBAs or the attorneys.

The truth is that it takes a Village. I suppose it is self aggrandizing for any one of these groups of people to believe they can do it all by themselves better than the other groups. But, you gain more from having complimentary know-how.

Most participants in the online debate over what it takes to have a successful business list bits and parts of what is required. The following items have been noted:

1. Initial Capital Injection
2. Differentiated Niche Products and/or Services
3. Business Plan
4. Marketing Plan
5. Plan Implementation
6. Marketing Tools
7. Passion
8. Positive Energy
9. Physical Stamina
10. MBA
11. CPA
12. Business Lawyer
13. Great Customer Service
14. Organizational skills
15. Time Management
16. Leadership skills
17. Continuing Education
18. Staff
19. Customers

The truth is that it takes all of the above. It takes a wide variety of people with a wide variety of know how. It takes a Village!

There is free or low cost help out there. In Georgia, I have tried the following:

1. Small Business Administration (SBA)
2. SBA funded Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – University of Georgia, Georgia State University
3. Georgia Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program
4. SCORE
5. Defense Logistics Agency funded Procurement Assistance Center – Georgia Tech
6. Count Me In program for Women’s Economic Independence
7. Clean Water Atlanta Small Business Development Program

These programs provide classes on business planning, business loans, marketing, government contracting, business law, and accounting. Some may advocate that if you do not have a MBA, you do not know enough about business and will fail. The truth is that much of what you need to know, you can learn.

Further, it also takes strategic plans that move off dusty shelves and into actual implementation. Again, we are back to the people factor. You need people that have the know-how, positive energy, and physical stamina to take strategies and implement them. When I worked as a city planner, I coordinated the drafting and approval by City Council of Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP) and Capital Improvement Programs (CIPs). This enormous effort would result in a wish list of projects in two thick plan documents 3-4 inches thick that would get shelved. The plans would collect dust; and we would do it all over again the next year for the annual update. The same is true for most strategic plans, business plans and marketing plans.

Small business counselors will encourage business owners to have plans. Some small business programs will help them draft their plans. However, I have yet to come across a small business program that encourages business owners to dust off their plans and review them. Perhaps no one wants to take the time. Business owners need performance measures. They need to ask themselves if they followed their plans; and if not, why not. This should be done annually, biannually or quarterly. Why have strategic plans that do not get used?

A huge problem for small business owners is that they may not have the money to hire employees to delegate plan implementation to. Where there is a will, there is a way. Ask family members, friends, retirees, neighbors, and students to help. Some students can work for course credit. Finding help takes time. But, this is time well spent.

I had a clothing business in the 80s. I tried a law office. I have had a consulting business that has gone through ups and downs. The key is that you cannot do it all yourself. I am an academic. I have three degrees, licenses and certifications. I love to learn. The learning part of it came easy to me. My credentials cover the full gamut of organizational management, law, and technical know how. I am a certified public manager, certified planner, patent attorney, and engineer. I manage well. I am organized. I plan everything. I know the law and I think analytically. But, I do not care how many degrees you have. If you do not go out and learn what you do not know; and get help in order to expand the ground you cover, your business will fail.

Of course solo practitioners will balk at this. What I am referring to is achieving the vision of building a corporation. Corporations may start with one person. But, to be successful, the organization has to grow in numbers. I serve as a procurement counselor and recently advised a client to look at a $20 meal tab in a restaurant. The $20 could get a business owner nearly three (3) hours of minimum wage help. A lot can be accomplished in 3 hours: database entries, contact relationship management, social media marketing, filing, and direct mailing.

If a business owner approaches business growth with the understanding that it will take Village Think, she may survive the first five (5) years. She will need to balance all 19 of the items noted earlier and manages to keep costs low overall. The key is to be willing to give each item some real thought and effort.

Author Bio: Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 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. http://www.lemongrassplanning.com (@lemongrassplans)