Posts Tagged ‘women business owners’

WTH are you doing? Overcoming lost self-confidence in business

June 3, 2014

feeling disappointedA small business owner on Facebook recently posted a cry for help.  She said she was wondering “WTH am I doing?”.

Many business owners get the WTH “what the heck” am I doing feeling from time to time.  This probably occurs most frequently after getting rejected and the feelings of disappointment that follow.  You may lose some of your confidence.  It’s ok.  The bottom line is that it is a signal to stop, reflect, plan a strategy, and implement a strategy.

To overcome the feelings of lost self-confidence and anxiety, here is a simple five (5) step plan:

  1. Start by writing down your statement of purpose – Always begin with seeking clarity and with having a clear mission in mind. Reflect on your career and your life and ask write down the answer to this question: “What are you passionate about?”
  2. Next, do a Self SWOT to list your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This will give you a quick Strategic Plan outlook.

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc


Sales Women versus Sales Men – Empathy and Ego-Drive

July 24, 2011

Image via Google Images

I recently bought the book entitled “Harvard Business Review on Sales and Selling”. I just read the selection called “What Makes a Good Salesman” by David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg. The authors advocate that great salesmen have both empathy and ego drive. The authors stated that the ego-driven salesmen see closing a deal as a conquest.

The article had me wondering how empathy and ego drive varies between women who sell versus men. I am active in many women small business advocacy groups. I am forever on a quest to find out how women business owners can increase their sales. On the face of it, I believe that we may lack the ego drive. Of course, I needed the scientific evidence to prove it.

The ego is our concept of self. So, if we are ego-driven, we see how our actions and accomplishments reflect on our concept of self. If we have high sales, then that is a direct reflection on our concept of self – i.e. we are winners.

Well, I did some digging and found a 2008 Newsweek article entitled “He’s Not as Smart as He Thinks”. The article reported the results of a study by British researcher Adrian Furnham, a professor of psychology at University College London. The study focused on how women and men perceive intelligence versus real IQ scores. Men had greater egos and thought they were smarter than their IQs indicated. Women perceived men to be smarter than women. Furnham attributed it to the “male hubris and female humility effect”. Men are more confident about their IQ; while on average, women underestimated their IQ scores by about five points.

If the male’s ego or self concept were the same in the sales arena, the men would be more confident and more ego-driven and would sell more. Women on the other hand tend to be more empathetic – but need to be more ego-driven and confident. Furnham wrote, “I think that many of the self-help gurus argue incorrectly that improved self-esteem increases performance. Helping people to perform better increases their self esteem.” In sales, besides the need for both empathy and the ego-drive, Mayer and Greenberg also advocated the importance of training.

A Sport Journal article entitled “Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players” noted results of a study of male and female players. The researchers studied the differences in goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, and sources of sport confidence. Male participants in the study recorded higher scores than female participants did for the sport-related confidence variables perceived ego climate, perfection of skills, and physical performance. Men had higher confidence in their skills and performance perceived prior to competition.

Similarly, I believe that women business owners can increase their confidence for sales competition with sales training in order to couple the motivational force of an ego drive with our empathetic, nurturing tendencies. Women simply need to want and need to persuade others and make the sale in every personal way. I still hear many women business owners state that they’ll do the work for free because they love the work so much and they want to help customers so much. These women are motivated by service. To be successful in sales, they need to be motivated by persuading others to buy their products and services. Perhaps women business owners with low sales should reprogram themselves and set aside child hood or other experiences that socialize them to be humble servants; and to not be assertive and persuasive. They have to change the way they perceive themselves.

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.

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Women Business Owners and Codependency

March 13, 2011

Statistically, women owned businesses are not as successful as male owned businesses. According to Census data cited in Jim Hopkins’ 2003 USA Today Article “Mars vs. Venus extends to entrepreneurs, too”, companies owned by women average $151,129 in annual revenue vs. $582,450 for those owned by men. According to the 2011 Census Statistical Abstract based on 2002 Census data, sales and receipts for female owned businesses are 940 Billion, and sales and receipts for male owned businesses are 7,061 Billion.

I have been giving a lot of thought to why there still is such a disparity. Although I am not a psychiatrist, I think codependency may have something to do with it.


I have been watching the reality TV show Ruby on The Style Channel and how Ruby is coping with her need to lose weight. On one episode Ruby asked herself and had a team of experts trying to determine what is holding her back from losing weight. She lost quite a bit but gained 30 pounds back. There were consistency issues.

Well, one of the experts stated that Ruby needed to reflect on her codependency issues. According to Wikipedia, codependency is defined as:

Codependency is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. It also often involves putting one’s needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including in families, at work, in friendships, and also in romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns.

As evidenced by Ruby’s behavior, codependents have the following traits:

 Not wanting to face hardship, pain, sadness, rejection
 Surrounding one’s self with people that take care of them
 Hard to trust people

I counsel small businesses and I have a small business that has seen its ups and downs. I have witnessed these same traits in some women business owners. It seems to be much harder to face fears; the hardship of building and operating a business; the need to be willing to do more and more; and the rejection by prospects. Rejection in the sales cycle breeds shame, fear, and secrets. Also, many women business owners still rely heavily on their spouses, mentors, coaches, colleagues, peers, and friends.

I cannot help but wonder if the fact that women were held in a dependent role to men for hundreds of years here in the United States makes us a bit codependent. I wonder to what extent societal norms make some women codependent on comforting things and if those comforting things cause symptoms that thwart our success. Think about the fact that the Women’s Liberation Movement and major publications such as “off our backs” was only 40 years ago.

In Ruby’s case, she is constantly being advised to confront what is holding her back and keeping her from losing weight. Ruby is constantly being advised to not be in denial about what she does to sabotage her success, and to not confront the core problems, and her codependency on food and people that take care of her.

When women business owners struggle, they too should confront what is holding them back from earning their goal revenues. Women business owners should be honest about any behavior that sabotages their success, and their codependency on people that may be taking care of them. One business coach told me that she was proud of me because I was a single mom and that there were a lot of women business owners that appeared to be more successful because they could depend on their husband’s money. Well, even the single mompreneurs may have men or others in their lives that they depend on – perhaps too much.

I say it’s time to end the shame, fear, secrets, and pain of rejection. Once these negative things are released, then women business owners can gain their power; and not let their codependency steal their success.

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

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

Fabulous Women Owned Business Owners

October 14, 2009

I have been networking with some fabulous women owned business owners:

1) Felicia Watlington owns Supplier Diversity Works and sells the YesToolKit a “step-by-step” guide to accessing opportunities created by the 2009 Federal Economic Stimulus Package. Visit

2) Alicia Pierre Butler owns Equilibrium which provides “efficiency engineering” such as getting businesses organized and helping leaders figure out their staffing needs.

3) Sharlyn Lauby owns ITM Group which provides human resources consulting, course development, and training services. Visit

I’ll celebrate more next week!

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