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LOVE being a Woman in Business

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LOVE being a Woman in Business

By Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD

There has been no better time to be a woman in business than now! It is no secret that women entrepreneurs are crushing it when it comes to starting businesses. Yet, for all of our enthusiasm and passion, women still lag when it comes to critical indicators for long-term success.  While there are many societal and socio-economic challenges that contribute to this gap, generally, women entrepreneurs tend to have the least access to strategic networks and successfully find a mentor, are least likely to be funded or have sufficient operating capital, and are challenged to scale and reach $1 million in revenues. According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are more than 10 million women-owned businesses in the US, making up more than a third of the nation’s privately-held businesses. Yet only 3.4 percent of women-owned firms generate $500,000 or more in annual revenues.  

In my experience as a supplier diversity director and strategic business development consultant, I have interacted with and advised a number of small businesses on winning contracts with organizations. Here are a few of my takes on how women can overcome these challenges and make being a woman owned business work for them!   

 

Go where you are welcomed

Many women-owned businesses fall into two categories (1) not aware of opportunities and programs that exist to help women-owned businesses do business with corporations, universities, and government (federal, state local,) or (2) are too intimidated and afraid to pursue these opportunities. One of the best ways that women entrepreneurs can strategically scale and grow their businesses is through their interaction with supplier diversity programs. Supplier Diversity is a proactive business program, which encourages the use of minority-, women-, veteran-, LGBT-owned businesses, and other distinctive categories of small business vendors or suppliers. From the federal government to corporations and higher education institutions across the country, there are programs that support the development and success rates of these businesses and specifically seek to increase the amount business they are doing with these groups. This focus is not about being nice…it is a business imperative. Specifically, women are the primary purchasers, spending $7 trillion a year and are getting a higher number of professional degrees – 58 and 60 percent of bachelor’ degrees and master’s degrees, respectively. It is only natural that they would become an important force when it comes to entrepreneurship.  


Realize events are OUR golf courses

We have all heard the phrase, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” I’ve come to learn not only is this statement true, it also extends to how men and women do business. While this does not mean that one way is better than the other, it confirms our different styles for communicating and collaborating. I recently had a conversation with a colleague and she expressed her weariness about the number of conferences and events for women, and went on to say she was experiencing “event fatigue.” As an attendee, speaker (and host) of many events for women entrepreneurs, I reflected on that statement and totally understood her perspective. However, I recalled that women have a history of congregating, whether engaging in activities, addressing community issues or talking about the latest news around town. Only in the last few years has this congregating evolved to talk about business and professional opportunities. Women are still new to this game and playing catch up. While I agreed that it could sometimes be overwhelming, these events serve a critical purpose in the continued success for women. I can remember not long ago, and even, early in my career, outside of sororities, there were few, if any, organizations or events centered on the success of women in business. The key to preventing “event overload” is to be strategic about expected outcomes. Men are old hands at this game. For years, they discussed business and made deals on the golf course, at the cigar bar, the strip club (yes, that still goes on) or some other establishment. While most of these women’s events are never exclusionary, they are OUR golf courses (and, I usually see a forward thinking man or two in the audience).

 

Think outside the “mentor vision” box

It is no secret that having a mentor is critical for business success. Yet, many women lament finding a mentor as one of their biggest challenges. Even though women are climbing the corporate ranks, starting businesses and achieving success across industries like never before, sometimes women have to be strategic when it comes to finding and establishing mentor relationships. For starters, women should think outside the “mentor vision” box, or look beyond the specific vision they have for what their mentor looks like, how the relationship will develop, and the role the mentor will play. Mentor relationships can take many forms including formal or informal; career, company, or industry specific; long standing or short-term, to name a few. In reality, this could be ANYONE that expresses an interest and commences activation in your long-term success. After all, you are in search of a mentor, not your next bff.

 

Understand Scalable is the new ‘Black’

Many women tend to start a business following a passion. However, this does not always equate to a successful, scalable (or profitable) business model. Additionally, there is a considerable lag between funding between businesses for women and men entrepreneurs. There is a direct correlation between the scalability of a business and the ability to get funding (note, this is one of the first questions on Shark Tank). Developing a business model that incorporates a business-to-business strategy is key to building a business that is scalable and, thus, attractive to institutional investors, venture capitalist and other funding sources.  


Women entrepreneurs will continue to play an integral role in the continued growth of the business community. Women embracing themselves as entrepreneurs, developing a deliberate business strategy, and leveraging their status as a woman-owned business can ensure that women are not just leading in business starts but building viable and sustainable businesses that can last.

 



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Inside out Leadership: Getting People From Where They Are To Where They Want To Be

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

 

Inside out Leadership: Getting People From Where They Are To Where They Want To Be

Rocío Pérez, Inventiva Consulting


The million-dollar question leaders ask is “why individuals accept mediocre results?”  When they encounter a large number of team members that are stuck with mediocre results.  It’s important for leaders to be able to identify individual mental blocks in order to be able to help them become unblocked.  Often times leaders are frustrated because they don’t know what to do with under performing teams and will fire under performers without understanding the core issue.  This leads to increased costs in the form of time, energy and money.  From Inventiva’s perspective and proven 7-step process, the reality is that people can go from under performing to outstanding results in minimal time.  Everyone has the ability to change.  Leaders and their team members just need the proper tools in order to stay motivated.  Team members are going through the same human dilemmas that many of us go through.  They get stuck and don’t know how to move forward.  


Leaders worry that they will not reach their goals and feel overwhelmed with the reality that their employees simply don’t get it.  Statistics show that approximately 70% of people in the US dislike their jobs while approximately 30% are engaged or inspired by their work duties.  So, the dilemma becomes understanding how a group of people who dislike their jobs can collaborate with their team members, take care of customers, be inspired to deliver outstanding results and be loyal to a brand.  The answer is “it’s impossible.”  Our view of the world creates our results.  The cost to companies becomes more than they can withstand.  Loss of sales, opportunities, productivity, key employees, time, energy, money and personal time are only the beginning of a bottomless abyss.  Companies don’t simply go under.  They go under because the people who drive them have a limited view of what’s possible and may not be aware that they and/or their team are the roadblock.  When leaders realize this, they can go from leading an under performing company to reaping the benefits of what committed, passionate and loyal employees can do to grow the brand, create raving customers, and increase revenues.  These are just a few of the many benefits.


How do individuals bridge the gap from where people are to where they need to be?  Team members must be driven and excited by the vision and look forward to going to work everyday in order to have a strong sense of mutual collaboration and achievement.  A leader’s job is to understand what drives and limits the team as individuals and how to first and foremost transform themselves and then help others do the same.  It’s a shift from reacting to what’s happening to consciously leading teams to transform themselves.  And it requires analyzing and tweaking their approach until they get the desired result.  


A leader’s job is to always be leading and understand that people may see things differently.  Each and everyone of us has a different learning style, personality, set of beliefs and emotional intelligence.  The reality is that we view the world through our own life experiences.  What we say, believe and live are our truths.  We want to be understood even when we may be wrong.  The key is to meet another person where they are, understand and acknowledge them, their resentments, motivations, fears, truths, desires, strengths and weaknesses in order to guide them to where they want to be.  People cannot control what they are not aware of.  Every minute 400 billion bits of information are in our environment; we are conscious of 2,000 bits of that and can focus 7-8 bits of information at one time.  We have 50,000 - 70,000 thoughts per day, 2,000-3,000 thoughts per hour, which translates to 35-48 thoughts per minute.  Ninety-eight percent of thoughts are the same as yesterday.  Could it be possible we are not aware of a few vital pieces of information?  The answer is yes.  We delete, distort and generalize every experience based on our prior experiences.  We are always relating our experiences to what we know.  


Getting from where you are to where you want to go as a business takes investing in people.  The first step is for leaders to conduct an organizational assessment and to gain more in-depth knowledge of available resources.  The second step is connecting and reconnecting employees to the mission, vision, core values and strategies of the organization.  The third step is to set their GPS for success by investing in Inside Out Leadership.  This process accelerates leadership skills, builds stronger teams, leads to a well-balanced life, and a better relationship with self, family and co-workers. It is results oriented and uses a common language. The process focuses visionary leaders on collaboration vs. competition as they lead their teams to become solution seekers and implementers.  The organization will experience an even better organizational culture and effective interdepartmental communication and collaboration with greater performance results. The process transforms knowledge to understanding to wisdom, and inspires leaders to create even greater results as they move from “just management” to true leadership.  


Summary

The above results in people delivering their very best.   When people become aware that they create their own reality, have the tools and know how to use them, they will.


Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  MBA Women  NAWMBA  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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Get What You Want: 5 Expert Negotiating Tips

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Get What You Want: 5 Expert Negotiating Tips

Professor Malia Mason studies and teaches negotiation tactics at Columbia Business School. Here, she shares a few tips for getting what you want at the negotiating table.

1. Grow and know your BATNA.

Power comes from your indifference towards the deal. If you approach the bargaining table with a willingness to walk away because you have an amazing alternative (known as a BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), you automatically have leverage. But BATNAs don’t just magically appear in your lap—you have to create options for yourself, and good ones! The single best way to spend your time preparing for a negotiation is by locking down a BATNA. Be disciplined about it, and articulate to yourself exactly what it is and how much you value it. How can you possibly know whether to accept or walk away from an offer at the negotiating table if you don’t know the value of your alternative?

Example:

You want to sell your house for a certain amount. If a potential buyer isn’t willing to pay that much, your BATNA might be to rent it out until the market improves.

2. Know what success looks like.

What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to get the best price? Are you looking to forge a new relationship? Maybe you’re just looking to school your counterpart. There are many ways to succeed (and fail) in negotiating, but it’s next to impossible to know how to proceed—what to offer, how much to push back, what to concede, and so forth—if you don’t know what you are trying to get. The dynamics you foster with your counterpart will depend on it. Orient yourself around the standards with which you will judge your performance afterwards.

Example:

Say you’re hiring a new employee. One of your goals is to bring her on at a salary that’s commensurate with her experience level. But, in this instance, you also care a great deal about her start date, because she’s taking the spot of another employee who’s leaving and you can’t afford to have the position unfilled for long. For you, success is a combination of making sure you don’t overpay and bringing her on staff quickly. Balancing those goals should guide the way you behave during the negotiation.

3. Have an offer strategy.

Will you make the initial offer? Or will you wait for the other person to go first? What will you say if he or she asks you to suggest a starting point for the deal? How extreme will your offer be? What form will it take? And what is your narrative around why your initial proposal is a legitimate one? Initial offers can have an anchoring effect on final settlements, so it’s worth giving this special consideration. What you do here should be conditioned on how you define success.

Example:

If your goal is to forge a strong relationship with a prospective long-term business partner, asking them to make the initial offer could be a smart opening gesture.

4. Have an information strategy.

First, before the negotiation, it’s worth giving some thought to what information you don’t know about your counterpart that would be useful. Obvious questions include: Why is this person buying or selling? What issue on the table is a top priority for your counterpart? Second, it’s worth thinking about how to respond to sensitive questions that might be asked of you, like, “What is your budget?” Or, “What are your alternatives?” You want to position your situation in the best light, and you certainly don’t want to lie about your circumstances, which people are more prone to do when they haven’t considered their answers beforehand.

Example:

If there’s a question you hope to avoid, plan in advance how to dodge it elegantly and move on. (“We aren’t quite ready to discuss our exact budget for this year, but I’d love to know how much you usually charge…” etc.) Meanwhile, if there’s a question you want to ask (“Have you taken on any other new clients recently?”), figure out how to word it and how the response will affect your strategy ahead of time. 

5. Assume you don’t know.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming your counterpart has diametrically opposed interests on each of the issues that are part of the negotiation. Getting this wrong can be incredibly costly, because it can set you up to be exploited by your counterpart if they gain an information advantage—they know far more about what you want than you know about what they want. With price, it’s fair to assume that the buyer wants a lower one and the seller wants a higher one, but don’t forget about other factors that are part of the negotiation (e.g., delivery date, number of units). Your counterpart doesn’t always want the exact opposite outcome, and he or she doesn’t always feel as strongly about the same issues that you do. Gather as much information as you can about your counterpart’s preferences before being too forthcoming about what you want.

Example:

You need a photographer two days from now. You approach the ideal person and explain your timing constraints. She frowns and explains that the project might be difficult on such short notice. She finally says that she will do it if you pay $500 more for the job. You agree, thinking that you got a good deal under the circumstances. But in reality, she’s had a last-minute cancellation and doesn’t currently have any work on the date you asked for. You assumed that it would be easier for her to take on your business at a later date, but in fact, it’s just as easy for her to take it on now. Not only did she get what she wants (business in two days), but she got you to pay more for this outcome.

This article is brought to you by MM.LaFleur, a vertically-integrated womenswear brand that provides a complete wardrobe and personal-styling services for the professional woman who has #BetterThingsToDo than shop. Read MM.LaFleur's digital magazine, the M Dash, online at mmlafleur.com/mdash.

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  NAWMBA  negotiation  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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Embrace Your “And”

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

 

Embrace Your “And”


By Dianna Klein

 

During my professional career, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to several international destinations. One of my favorite was the German town of Landstuhl near Ramstein Air Force Base, about 2 hours southwest of Frankfurt. I would stay in Landstuhl for crew rest or maintenance delays while flying missions in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom after 9/11. In Germany, not unlike other European countries, restaurants and pubs are not just for food and libations, but also function as social gathering places where friends and family would entertain one another for several hours at a time. One of my favorite pastimes was to dine at these establishments and chat with the locals. After the exchange of common pleasantries, I’d usually ask what the person “did,” indirectly referring to what they did for a career, as is often implied by the question when asked in America. I asked this question in various forms numerous times during my visits to Landstuhl, and was pleasantly surprised each time by the response. In America, the respondent answers with their job title and a brief description. In Germany, each person I asked responded with their hobbies and/or family activities, and proceeded to expound upon them! Only after several more exchanges was career mentioned. Why don’t we respond like this in the United States? Our culture leads us to believe our identity is directly tied to our career choice.

 

How many times have you answered the common pleasantry question of “What do you do?” with a hobby? I know I had not until my experiences in Germany, and even now when asked, I have to make a conscious effort to respond with one of my hobbies and passions instead of my career title. But what if, like me, one of your passions is your career? How can we enhance our career passion with hobbies or interests that feed off one another and complement one another without drawing energy away from our income-earning passion: our career?

 

I recently had a professor during one of my EMBA classes describe the need for complementary interests as embracing you inner “And” instead of “Or.” Webster defines “and” as a function word to indicate connection or addition of items within the same class or type. Connection is the key word. All of our life pursuits are connected. They require energy from the same source— us.  They also can be a source of replenishment for that necessary energy. So how do we choose these complementary and energy-granting pursuits? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, the right combination is different for each person. But there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to determine what mix is appropriate for us. If all these questions are answered with yes for a particular activity, then we have discovered our “And!”


Does the activity/interest complement our Big Three core responsibilities?

The Big Three are our belief system, family, and job. If the interest doesn’t complement all three of these, then it needs to be bypassed. No need to apply the following two questions to the interest. When I decided to start my own consulting business, I made sure it was for the right reason. Not fame or notoriety, but for financial stability should I lose my primary job. The friends I made and the companies I was able to help also provided a lot of fulfillment, which lead me to think about the next question.


What fulfills you?

What prompts you to bring your best energy to the world? For me it was not only my small business venture but also my passion for cancer research. My mother is a colon cancer survivor. Experiencing first-hand the horrible effects of cancer not only on the patient but also on family and friends motivated me to apply for a position on the American Cancer Society of Southern Nevada’s Associate Board of Ambassadors (ABOA) The ABOA is a board comprised of young professionals with a passion to see a cure for cancer developed in their lifetime. Knowing my efforts may lead to the eradication of cancer and a world where families will never know its devastation is my version of fulfillment.


Is the timing in life appropriate?

You CAN have it all, just not all at once. I had to think long and hard about this question when I expressed interest in enrolling in an EMBA program during maternity leave from my major U.S. airline. Obtaining a MBA had been a long-time-goal, but would it complement my core responsibilities and grant fulfillment? After much discussion with my family and life-long mentors, I determined it was. And it’s been one of the best career and life decisions I’ve ever made.


Is the interest or activity enriching the lives of others?

Will your endeavor be enhancing the lives of your fellow humans? When I moved to Las Vegas there was no time-maximizing networking group for business professionals specifically catering to women. Only a few sporadic MeetUp groups existed, and they lacked the professional development paired with the social networking I felt Las Vegas needed. We ladies are often our worst enemies or biggest supporters. I’m fond of the latter, and wanted to facilitate the growth of that mentality. This passion compelled me to organize the Las Vegas Professional Chapter of NAWMBA in February of this year, and together with 68 event attendees and a great volunteer leadership team we’ve made a very positive community impact.


What will be your “And” or “Ands” in life? What will now be your answer to the question of “What do you do?” We are all a composite of life experiences…including our careers, but not only our careers. Embrace your “And”.





Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  NAWMBA  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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The World Needs Your Story

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

 

The World Needs Your Story

By Cathy Fyock


Why are stories so powerful?

I’ll answer that question by telling a story. In this tale we meet a student who is being taught by his teacher through stories. One day the student asks, “Teacher, why do you always instruct about truth by telling stories?”

The teacher thinks for a moment, then replies, “Bring me water.”

The student finds a large brass bowl, fills it with water, and brings it to the teacher. “Here, teacher, is your water.”

To which the teacher responds: “Why do you bring me a brass bowl when all I asked for is water?”

And that’s how it is with storytelling. The story is the conveyance for truth. It helps us remember what is important, what is vital.  Our stories hold life lessons.

So, why don’t YOU tell your stories? Why aren’t you speaking, training, and writing?

Many of you are doing amazing things. You are helping your organizations develop new products and services. You grow workers into leaders. You develop cultures that foster innovation. And you are touching the lives of your employees each day in meaningful ways.

So why don’t you tell your stories? Why isn’t the world benefitting from your wisdom and insights?

There is a wonderful story about Gandhi that applies here. As Gandhi was boarding a train that was leaving the station, his sandal fell off. Unable to rescue the sandal, he dropped the sandal from the other foot. When asked why, he said, “Now, the poor man who finds the first shoe will be able to have a use for the pair.”

By doing good work in your organization, you have dropped one shoe. By solving organizational challenges, you have dropped a shoe. By making teams more cohesive and by enabling change, you have dropped a single shoe. But now you must drop the other shoe. You must tell your story, you must share your truth—through writing, speaking, and training—so that others can use your wisdom and knowledge.

Does anybody want to read my story?

Some of you may still be hesitant about telling your story. I was meeting with a potential client who wanted to write her book, and toward the end of our conversation she turned to me and asked, “But does anybody really want to read my story?”

I responded, “Yes! Yes!” Why did I feel so convinced that her story was needed? I thought a lot about that, and I decided that I needed to write a blog about it. The result was “Cathy’s Credo” which I communicate on my website and is a tool I share with all my clients and audiences. And I’d like to share a shortened version of it with you here:


Remember, you were created with a purpose, and when you tell your stories you allow others to bear witness to the purpose of your life. Your stories are gifts to others: the gifts of joy, encouragement, insight, understanding, hope. Telling your story is holy work.

You know, the world needs your story. We have not solved all the leadership problems in our world. We don’t have all the answers to how we create a better world.

Finally, I’d like to share my Writers’ Pledge with you. I developed this at the suggestion of one of my clients who has developed her own pledge. Here’s what mine says:

I pledge that I will use my power to make today a fantastic day. I will block writing time on my calendar, and I will honor that time commitment and hold it as sacred, creative time.

I pledge that I will not allow my negative voice to guide my thinking or stop my creative process. I will surround myself with people who love me and support my writing.

I pledge to tell my story—to share my experiences—with authenticity and without apology. I know that in telling my story I can provide others with the gifts of hope, wisdom, and joy.

I pledge that I will continue to work so that I gain clarity and focus for my readers, audiences, and clients, so that I can continue to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

I believe that each of us can continue to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

The world needs your story.

Tell your story.



Cathy Fyock is The Business Book Strategist, and works with professionals and thought leaders who want to write blogs and books as a career and business development strategy. She is the author of On Your Mark: From First Word to First Draft in Six Weeks, and Blog2Book: Repurposing Content to Discover the Book You’ve Already Written. She can be reached at Cathy@CathyFyock.com.


Tags:  Business  leadership  NAWMBA  storytelling  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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