Posts Tagged ‘job creation’

HBCU Host Communities Should Outsource More

August 29, 2010

The past few weeks have been exciting. My mom was born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama. I still have family there. In December 2009, I helped the City of Tuskegee and Tuskegee University with a forum to discuss the revitalization of the City of Tuskegee. We all agreed that a revitalized Tuskegee would improve the local economy and increase the University’s ability to recruit and retain high quality students and faculty members. Unfortunately, many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are located in host communities which suffer from blight and economic depression.

Tuskegee’s Mayor Omar Neal and other locally based participants gave a vision for a revitalized City of Tuskegee. The vision focused on education, health care, public safety, and job creation. Some of the specific actions included developing the I-85 interchanges, improving the industrial park, rehabilitating downtown, implementing a tourism plan, and increasing restaurant and retail options. All local presenters agreed that the vision should be completed in a strategically planned manner.

Following the local vision presentations, various representatives from state and federal government gave their reactions to the local vision along with thoughts about potential participation by their agencies. Private sector and philanthropic entities gave their response to the vision and potential resource assistance as well. These responses exemplified the need to develop a broad-based coalition to conduct this revitalization effort.

This year, there will be further discussions during the Booker T. Washington Summit in the City of Tuskegee. We have offered to help with:
 Promotion to State and Federal Agencies
 Grant writing
 Small Business Seminars
 Meeting Facilitation

I also work as a small business counselor at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) in Albany, Georgia which is home to the HBCU Albany State University. Over the past few weeks, Georgia Tech has been working with the City of Albany’s Economic Development Department on a proposition to manage its Small Business Program. Georgia Tech’s Research Corporation won the contract award and will provide the following key services:
 Create and maintain a comprehensive electronic database of Albany-area businesses
 Provide reports
 Develop training and technical assistance
 Assist the City of Albany to create an electronic database of all upcoming and awarded contract opportunities, tailored to the interests and capabilities of each business, so they may be manipulated electronically for notification to relevant Albany-area businesses.
 Will participate in local pre-bid and pre-proposal conferences, and will conduct training workshops for SBP program participants on how to prepare for, attend, and follow-up on such conferences
 Create and process Albany Small Business Enterprise (ASBE) certifications

The common denominator is outsourcing. Outsourcing work to consultants is ideal because it is cheaper than acquiring expertise by hiring full time equivalents and investing in training, health benefits, and retirement benefits.

Outsourcing to consultants is not new for most small towns. Several small towns use consultants for site plan reviews, construction inspections, code compliance, strategic planning, grant writing, and information technology services. Sometimes small towns have difficulty finding professional consultants that are willing to work within the small town’s small budgets. However, the key is to partner small businesses and other universities that can do the work for less and keep services affordable.

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


Women small business owners and “Shopping” for new hires

July 18, 2010

In 2008, I won a Sams Club Entrepreneurship award through the Count Me In program. Part of the award package included free attendance to the Count Me In Leadership Institute at the Office Depot headquarters in Boca Raton last year. I heard Nell Merlino, Executive Director of the Count Me In program, speak about the need for women owned small businesses to hire.

This year, there have been several articles published related to this topic:

 The Work Life Balancing Act, Cindy Krischer Goodman, Miami Herald, September 29, 2009
 Women Business Owners: It’s time to be called ‘boss’ by Rhonda Abrams, USA Today, March 12, 2010
 Want to Grow, Hire Some Help by Eve Gumpel, WomenEntrepreneur, March 15, 2010
 Why are Women-Owned Firms Smaller Than Men-Owned Ones by Sharon G. Hadary, The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2010
 Nell Merlino on What Holds Women Entrepreneurs Back by Karen E. Klein, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 2, 2010

However, I have yet to read and learn what is at the core of the problem. Why are women small business owners less reluctant to hire than men? What is it about us? I think if we can reflect on why we are not hiring, perhaps we would be more inclined to hire.

There is a more pressing reason why women business owners should get on the band wagon. A 2002 study by Richard DeMartino and Robert Barbato entitled “Differences between women and men MBA entrepreneurs: exploring family flexibility and wealth creation as career motivators” (Journal of Business Venturing, Rochester Institute of Technology) cited that women-owned businesses make up 40% of all businesses and women continue to start businesses at twice the rate of men.

The Kauffman Foundation released July 2010 study findings by Dr. Tim Kane that concluded that when it comes to creating new jobs, startup companies are the source. The study is entitled “The Importance of Startups in Job Creation and Job Destruction”. We can look at it this way – if women did not start new businesses, women would not contribute to the very source of new job creation.

Mark Levit, Managing Partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and a Professor of Marketing at New York University wrote an article entitled “The Difference between Men and Women” with a focus on how marketers can strategize to appeal to women. Well, why not look at these differences and apply them to the question of why women are business owners are reluctant to hire. Here goes…

Mark Levit cited a University of Wisconsin study which found that:

 Women notice and recall 70% more detail in their environments than do men.

This may explain why it might take women longer to come around to hiring. Perhaps women business owners are too detailed oriented and get bogged down in the details. They would then be slower to hire.

 Men tend to see life as a series of contests they must conquer to maintain personal status.

Perhaps women small business owners are less competitive and less interested in boosting their personal status. Women business owners may be motivated less by competition and more by creating a nurturing environment – rather than expanding and profiting more. DeMartino and Barbato found that a higher proportion of women become entrepreneurs in order to balance work and family and a higher proportion of men do so to seek wealth creation and personal economic advancement.

 Women have a greater affinity for shopping.

Perhaps women business owners should think of hiring as shopping for help. If women business owners looked at hiring as a shopping extravaganza, then maybe hiring would be a more pleasurable experience.

 Women take pride in their ability to shop skillfully, prudently, and well. Women tend to evaluate the pros and cons of every purchase. Men make impulse purchases. No coupons. No lists.

Mark Levit cited British psychologist David Lewis’ study which explained the nature-over-nurture concept that prehistoric women are “homebound gatherers of roots, nuts, and berries, rather than roaming hunters of game”. Now, we are back to the dilemma of getting bogged down in details. It takes more time to be more skillfully, prudently, and well. Perhaps women business owners put off hiring until they are able to be trained in how to properly hire and protect themselves and the work environment they nurture. Are women business owners less likely to just place an ad, interview, and hire? Are they less likely to know how to do this skillfully? What about time? Is the time consumption the problem?

 Women want to feel cherished, whereas men want to feel needed.

Perhaps it is the prospect of having to reject poor candidates or having to fire poor performers that prevents women business owners from hiring.

 When men shop, it’s usually for themselves, when women shop it’s for themselves and their families.

Sharon Hadary advocates that women owned firms need to be taught – esp. by other women leaders – to think big from the start. There needs to be a change in the women business owners’ mindset. In 2008, Dr. Susan L. Reid wrote an article entitled the “Similarities and Differences between How men and Women Excel in Business”. Dr. Reid wrote that one mistake women entrepreneurs make is that they make excuses. Another mistake cited by Reid is that “too many women have a mindset of scarcity when it comes to their businesses. They believe they lack time, money is scarce, and there aren’t enough customers.”

Having the Right Mindset – Heed to Nike and Just do it!

Remember the 1998 Nike Just Do it ad campaign? ALL women businesses need that competitive, can do attitude.

If women were to take clues from the male mindset, women business owners would:
 View their businesses as more like a contest or competition …grit down, compete, be passionate, be determined, and just do it!
 View from a mindset of plenty – there is plenty of time, customers, and help.
 Not over evaluate and get bogged down in details. I will have a quick strategic plan for hiring (list of tasks to delegate, job description, job ad, job interviews) and hire by set deadlines. I will just do it!

In a very unscientific humorous HubPages article entitled “The Differences Between Men and Women”, Ryan Kett jokingly wrote that “Women take 20 minutes to choose food from a takeaway menu, Men will take 1 minute.”

It is time for women small business owners to get help. If cash flow is a concern, hire volunteers. No excuses! Just do it!

Here are some daily affirmations for women business owners:
o There is plenty of time. I will manage my time. I will just do it!
o There are plenty of customer prospects. I will go prospecting daily. I will just do it!
o There is plenty of help and if I cannot afford them now, I will hire on commission or hire volunteers! I will just do it!
o I will shop for new hires. I will just do it!
o It is ok to be motivated to grow my business and create wealth because with more wealth, I will have more flexibility to balance work and family.

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