Posts Tagged ‘Nell Merlino’

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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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 :
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9 Business Lessons from the Green Lantern

June 19, 2011

This weekend, I watched the Green Lantern movie. It was awesome! Here are nine (9) business lessons I learned from the movie:

1. Green Lantern operates on green energy and the color green represents a species’ will. Our will allows us to create what we imagine. Anything the Green Lantern could see in his mind, he could create. He just needed to focus. We are only as strong as our will. The business lesson here is that every business leader needs to utilize laser focused creativity and imagination to develop a vision for what the business needs to look like and for strategies the business can use to overcome barriers. This is where a sound business plan and strategic planning comes into play. To stay creative, business leaders also have to overcome getting into ruts and feeling burned out.

Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur’s Council recently wrote a Huffington Post article on how entrepreneurs can get back to being creative and productive. The answers included: 1) taking on a hobby other than the startup; 2) delegate and outsource certain functions; 3) take time to recharge and get away; 4) focus on activity that gives you energy; 5) find a business partner; 6) read about art, literature, history; 7) mentor others;  8) work out; 9) pick a company that is getting it right to emulate and track; 10) conquer a fear with sky diving, mountain climbing or some other adventure; 11) invest in something creative or different for your business; 12) turn to your mentors; 13) network with folks in other fields; 14) take up creative writing; and 15) change your routine.

2. Your will is what makes you take action.
3. The Green Lantern Corps is only as strong as its weakest link.
4. In the movie, the villain Parallax had the color yellow and fed on the fear of others. This is actually the color I associate with cowardice. Fear stops you and makes you weak. Ignore your fear. Last year, Karen Klein wrote a BusinessWeek article about Nell Merlino and what holds women business owners back. Nell Merlino advocates that women business owners need to hire. However, Nell acknowledged that many feared doing so because they were afraid they would not be able to make payroll or would cede and lose control and management of their brand. In Nell Merlino’s self help memoir entitled “Stepping out of Line”, she advocates that whatever you can imagine for yourself, you can achieve – and imagination and dedication are the keys.
5. The Green Lantern ring chose the character Hal to be the Green Lantern. In the movie, it was stated that the “ring” chose Hal; and the ring never makes a mistake. I think the ring is symbolic of a higher spirit or God. Just as Hal was chosen to serve as the Green Lantern, I think God chooses individuals to be business leaders.
6. In the movie, the villain was an evil power of darkness that fed on fear. In business, our enemies are naysayers or competitors that block the market entry of newcomers. It was stated in the movie that the will is the sole weapon against the enemy of fear.
7. One of the Green Lantern Corps members wanted to fight fear with fear. The Green Lantern disagreed. The business leadership lesson here is that we do not have to become like our enemies in order to succeed. I have observed this time and time again. When I first opened my business in 2005, several competitors wanted to meet and talk. Some wanted to find out my weaknesses and fears. Some were really ugly about blocking me from entering their arena or space. I thought this was awful – they were fighting fear with fear – trying to make me be afraid about moving forward with my plans. I also encountered loved ones (friends and family members) that really did not want me to be “that” successful. So, they tried to play on my fears by telling me how hard it would be; how costly; how foolish.
8. Parallax is generally defined as the displacement of an observed object due to the change in the position of the observer. In the movie, the villain Parallax could see your memories and read minds. This is how it could feed on the fears of others. In business, you have to be careful sharing certain memories, thoughts, and fears to prevent enemies from preying on your fears. Guarding the business position is important.
9. The Green Lantern had to recharge his ring; i.e. recharge his will. I think this is analogous to prayer and having faith. I think we need to take time to pray, meditate to recharge and gain strength to overcome barriers.

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
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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: – 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