Posts Tagged ‘small business’


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.

Read more!

By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.


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

Don’t get Hung Hanging Out

August 14, 2013

Women in business, small business, business development, business travel, federal government contractingYears ago, a mentor told me that to be successful in business you have to be willing to simply hang out with folks.  You really do!

I started making deals once I started hanging out at:

  • prebid meetings
  • small business conferences
  • chamber meetings

… and just plain old-fashioned asking for face to face appointments and scheduling phone chats.

However, what start-up business owners are not told is to watch your expenses.

Trade dues, chamber memberships, parking and lunches can get expensive.   One year I spent $10,000 in trade dues and membership directory ads.

I recently talked to a small business specialist in a federal government agency.  Read more…

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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■ LIKE us on Facebook:


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:
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Do you Tweet? Part Two.

May 15, 2011

This time last year, I wrote an article called Do you Tweet? I completed two Social Media classes in 2009 and decided to use social media online marketing as an affordable way to build my network. It’s working. My network has steadily grown. I went to a trade conference recently and folks recognized me when in many cases, I did not recognize them. Online marketing increases your visibility and helps you achieve “presence of mind” when it comes to getting referrals. This article serves to update you the new tools and techniques I am trying.
Last year I wrote how I spend a minimum (and usually maximum) of 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night each day. Now, I spend more time. I usually devote a few hours on Saturday or Sunday. Here’s what I do with Twitter now:
You get followers by following others. If someone does not follow me in about a week or so, I stop following them.
How do I find followers and get folks to follow me?
1) I still get great twitter connections from my linkedin and facebook groups.
2) I upload a *.csv (comma separated value) file from linkedin into twitter to make sure I am following my Linkedin connections out on Twitter – and to encourage them to follow me back.
3) I look at every new Facebook connections’ information page to find out if they have a twitter account – if so, I follow them and email them to request that they follow me back. I also check out their website. I always do my due diligence to find out whether a Facebook invite or recommended connection is a good fit in my circle or space.
Why do I love Twitter?
1) It helps me direct traffic to my website. We have had an increase of website visitors as per our Google Analytics reports. I review our analytics monthly.
a. With each twitter follow, I use the Twitter Direct mail feature to send them an email:
i. thanks 4 the follow! I look forward to getting to know u! Free ebook gift for u: 25 Small Biz Tips:
ii. please support our Facebook biz page by clicking on the Like link & Join My List link –
b. Each week I usually post a blog post and convert the post into articles. I then tweet the new arrival of a blog post and use auto notifiers to post the articles. This helps drive traffic to my website.
c. I have begun to post videos via YouTube, and photos using Twitpic.
How do I save time?

Well, last year I was using ping fim to post each morning. Now I use Hootesuite and schedule about 50 posts each week. I post about 7 times per day. I set up 2 or 3 posts in the morning, noon, and night. I use the ping fm feature in Hootesuite to distribute my posts to a number of social media outlets – myspace, linkedin, my personal facebook page, my company’s facebook like page, and other pages. I love the schedule ahead feature in Hootesuite.
Last year, in my Do you Tweet article I listed a number of news outlets that I subscribe to in order to read and cull out content to share online. This year, I have finally graduated to using Twitterfeed to share posts from my favorite blogs. At first I used their default of posting every 30 minutes. One of my cousins advised me that it seemed like I was posting on Twitter every minute and that was annoying. I went from about 7 posts per day to who knows what. So, I had to go back into Twitterfeed and adjust the settings.
I signed up for Gist and have begun to see dossiers on folks in my network. This helps me decide who to conversate with. But, I honestly lean more toward the Hootesuite mention feature to see who retweets my post or asks me questions. I can then easily respond. Gist is more comprehensive since it will show me my online connections’ posts in several outlets. But I will have to hire someone to help me make the most of that. It would be neat if all of this could be rolled into Hootesuite so that I could see everything on one website. If you know of a way, please let me know.
The key is to continue to try new marketing tactics. Post diverse things and use a variety of tools to stay fresh and interesting. No matter how much we small business owners do, we can always do more. You cannot get frustrated and quit. You simply build the empire one stone at a time with patience and persistence.

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

7 Limitless Ways to Plan for Peak Performance

March 21, 2011

I watched Director Neil Burger’s movie Limitless this weekend. I really enjoyed it!

Actor Bradley Cooper plays the writer named Ed Morra who begins to take a top secret drug NZT that gives him super human, top performance abilities.

Here are seven (7) ways you can plan to operate your small business at peak performance without the drug NZT:

1. Overcome your fear

Much has been written about entrepreneurs’ fear of sales and fear of success. The first step to overcoming these fears is to not be in denial. Assuming there are fears, the next step is to get help. There are self help books on the market and a few counseling sessions with a business coach or therapist may prove helpful. Regardless of what course of action is taken, it is important to get past fear because fear can paralyze an entrepreneur’s ability to execute their plans.

2. Overcome your shyness

Ed Morra stated that NZT helped him overcome his shyness. I once dated a guy who used cocaine to overcome his shyness. We can all relate to folks that drink alcohol to become more social and less shy. Well, shyness can be overcome without drugs. Again, the first step is to not be in denial. You have to have some out of body experiences. In the movie Limitless, there were several photo shoots which depicted the un-drugged version of Ed looking at the drugged up Ed.

These scenes reminded me of when I first began to market my firm Lemongrass Consulting back in 2005. I went to trade meetings and would talk to the person sitting to the right of me and to the left of me. I would then leave. If I stayed, I was usually a wall flower. I did not realize I was behaving this way until I participated in a mentor protégé program. My mentor began to go to trade meetings with me. She was the out of body person observing me – so to speak. She observed how I would dart into a rest room and would not work the room. I was in denial. I did not realize how incredibly shy I was. The way I got past it was to mimic my mentor’s behavior and read self help books.

3. Have unprecedented motivation

On NZT, the writer Ed Morra had unprecedented motivation. He was so motivated that he put aside his writing and figured out ways to make money quick on the stock market.

For many entrepreneurs, motivation is tough to maintain. In business, you face ups and downs. You have to learn how to deal with rejection. Rejection and periods of slow sales can crush your spirit and can be quite depressing if you do not get a handle on it. The depression can lead to paralysis when it comes to executing your plans.

I stay motivated by putting in place vision boards, games, and rewards for winning. I have a vision board that I look at every day. It is right near my bed and contains thumb tacked cut outs of magazine clippings of where I want to be in terms of business development, career advancement, wealth, and my lifestyle. I have a separate task board with Q cards that list each task that will get me closer to achieving my goals. As I complete the task, I remove it from the board. When I achieve a goal, I reward myself with a spa day and shopping. It helps to have some system in place to stay focused and motivated.

4. Have clarity

On NZT, Ed Morra had unprecedented clarity. My vision board helps me to stay focused and clear about why I exist, my purpose in life, and what I want to accomplish. I have used vision boards for years. Before starting my business, my vision board was simply to achieve a six figure salary, get a SUV, and buy a nice home. I went from making 40,000 a year in 1997 to making 90,000 a year in 2000. I went from a beige Mazda Protégé to a red Mazda Tribute. I went from being riddled with law school loans and debt to buying a nice home. I looked at my vision board containing magazine clippings of what I wanted each day. It was always exciting to see how, perhaps subliminally, the images became my reality over a very short period of time.

5. Be jacked in, booted up, and full of focused energy

Ed Morra said that the NZT drug helped him be jacked in and booted up. Well, I find that I am most booted up and jacked in after I exercise. When I eat poorly and do not exercise, I feel sluggish. In fact, in the movie Limitless, they show Ed Morra exercising in a gym and swimming.

6. Find a bridge

Robert Dinero plays a merger and acquisition tycoon Carl Von Noon. Carl Von Noon is a bridge to Ed Morra. Carl hires Ed to help with a large, proposed merger and acquisition. Ed was well connected and one of his connections in stock trades introduced Ed to Carl.

My take away here is that it is extremely important to have a strong network and mentors. Your mentors are your bridges. Bridges connect you from where you exist to where you want to go. When I counsel small businesses I advise them to begin very early on to develop a Contacts Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It is important to work your list of connections, stay in touch with folks, and share information. Nearly every business adviser I have had has taught me this.

7. Feel invisible

If you are successful with Items 1-6, you will feel better. When you achieve successes, you will develop confidence and that confidence will make you feel better. But, to feel invisible may not be such as wise thing. Humility goes a long way in business development.

Ann Hutchinson wrote “But now having seen him which is invisible I fear not what man can do unto me.” For me, having a relationship with a higher spirit God is a way to see that which is invisible and to not fear what can possibly do to you. Many entrepreneurs have experienced competitors that will block our sales efforts; prospects that are difficult to reel in; peers that are not very helpful; and customers that are not ideal. Nevertheless, having a real relationship with a higher spirit can help you feel protected above all of that so that you can press on.

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

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