Posts Tagged ‘business strategy’

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.



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.


November 20, 2013

business, business development, business strategy, entrepreneuralism, small business I watched the movie X-Men last night on AMC. I love the character Wolverine! The wolverine animals are solitary small, ferocious bears that have more strength than they appear to have. I just love this because it reminds me of many small businesses.

At the end of the day, small businesses carry the US economy. We are small but potent.

Here are five (5) business tips we can learn from the X-Men movie:

1. Wolverine is one of the outcast mutants that Professor Xavier pulls together as members of X-Men. Wolverine has the ability to heal himself. He is resilient.

To be successful in business, business owners have to have a thick skin. They have to be tough and resilient. If we do not meet our goals or get burned by others, we should try to heal ourselves when we are wounded and move forward. I personally turn to God in prayer. Having the wherewith all to turn to God is a form of self-healing and preservation.

2. In the movie, the mutant Rogue was able to heal herself if she held onto Wolverine and transferred his healing powers to herself. However, this nearly killed Wolverine.

In my opinion, business owners can learn from this that while we may want to help and heal others, doing so may lead to our own demise if we let others pull us down and sap all of our energy. Read more at:

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

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 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 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:
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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: – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at

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
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. (@lemongrassplans)