A Small Business Lesson

It’s the holiday season. Billions will be spent and there is consumer demand for handcrafted, novelty, and niche items from small businesses, vendors, and independent consultants-owners.

My Teenpreneurs, aka my teenaged entrepreneurial granddaughter and niece, vendored last weekend. They sold $80 in jewelry and with the $40 vendor cost and supplies/inventory of $30, they cleared $10. So at the end of the day, they could buy a hot dog.

My Teenpreneurs’ experience isn’t unique. In fact, Shirley Klaus, My Finish 2018 Strong colleague, shared how she too had a similar experience at a craft show vending her blended herbal teas and essential oils. No sales!

Let’s face it, we will have days when we don’t win financially. At those times, we need to look for the lessons learned and recalibrate.

One of the key lessons Shirley learned and shared: Plan like your business depends on it. Pennies don’t rain from heaven. Shirley offered the following questions we should ask to ensure we have a realistic expectation when we decide to offer her products and services at shows and events:

*What is the projected sales traffic?

*How many times has this event been held previously and what was revenues?

*What’s the income and spending data of the expected clientele or those who live within a set radius of the event?

*What were the top selling items and what were their price points?

We must ask to ensure we are getting the best for our business.

The Teenpreneurs gained more sales, business, and communication experience. Of course, I took the financial hit and let them enjoy the full $80 once they listened to my sage business lessons.

Their $5 Bling jewelry is available online at https://paparazziaccessories.com/117158/. And for those looking for herbal teas and oils, check Shirley out at http://www.Facebook.com/CHSimplyNatural. After all it November 24th is Small Business Saturday and friends and families love special and unique gifts.

Let’s have a prosperous season and do what’s best for our business.

Let’s Get Personal

Let’s get personal.  It’s challenging to share personal information as  we navigate leadership.  After all, everyone does not have the best intentions in their hearts so there are risks when we invite others into our personal lives or make disclosure beyond our resumes.

Everything in my upbringing goes against the public sharing and exposure.  “What goes on in this house, stays in this house,” reads The Black Mothers’ Bible Chapter 1, Verse 1. The stone tablets of Women’s Leadership say, “Put on your big girl bossy pants.  Never let them see you sweat.”  

So, how did I get to

a place where I can share my embarrassments and personal challenges, and is it a path that I recommend for others?

I began to share as women leaders began to share with me their stories.  Their stories help me know I wasn’t alone, and the challenges are not insurmountable.  I was a listener.  It was not my intent to share.  However, they touched, moved, and inspired me.  They were my mirror reflecting back at me the hardships and the window giving me the view of moving beyond them and opportunities that awaited.  In that space I opened up, breaking the codes and tablets. We enjoyed the richness of the human experience —connection, relatedness, and belonging.

Then at some point the rest of the world didn’t look as frightening.  I can share the my personal history outline:

*Descendant of slaves 

*Granddaughter and daughter of rural, domestic, and auto workers

*1st generation college graduate

*Challenges and dynamics: divorce, single parenting, blended families, poverty, miseducation, drug and alcohol addictions, abuse neglect, and mental health issues

My outline represents my human experience, but  and the feelings evoked by it are common to many.  I can fill in the details at the appropriate times with the appropriate people.  In my interactions this week, I shared my feelings of loss as my current supervisor retires and my team asked if I was okay.  Connected.  Relatedness. Belonging.  We experienced the richness of the human experience.  Their fingerprints are on my heart.  So, I invite us all to be mirrors and windows, and when appropriate, let’s get personal.

Reflections on Success

Like a proud kindergartner, I gave myself 19 smiling faces; one for each goal I have accomplished so far in 2018. I earned my first smiling face in January 2018 when I hosted “This Woman and Her World” Vision Board gathering, and that experience laid the foundation for most of my successes in this year.  Here are my reflections on success from that experience:

1. Success Requires Being and Action

“The mind is everything; what you think you become.” Socrates

Success begins with a state of being where the images of success are present and align in our thoughts and feelings. 

Neuroscience shows that our brains can generate ideas and thought patterns.  These can be ideas and thoughts patterns of success. The patterns evoke feelings. We act on these feelings.  Our actions are our self-expression and creations based upon our state of being.

My thought was to bring women together as they readied for the upcoming year and to create something more meaningful than a list of resolutions.  As I sat with the idea of vision boarding, I felt love, individual power, and the empowerment and support of other women.  These feelings grew as I went about the planning the event. In the end, the gathering had the feel of belonging and meeting old and new friends over a cup of coffee for conversation.  The feminine kinship and bond were palpable.

 

2. Reinforce Success Until It Becomes Habit

As we act and create, we reinforce our thoughts, ideas, and emotions; we become more familiar and comfortable.  The cycle loops and repeats. Repeated actions becomes practices.  Practices become habits.  The habit of the success state of being is formed.

I hosted the first vision gathering.  Then I hosted one for a work team, then I hosted one for a larger work team, and then I hosted one for a non-profit organization.  I have a practice of hosting vision board gatherings.  I have themes and activities to complement the desired outcomes.

 

3. Expansion Creates Opportunities

Success build confidence, boldness, and opportunities and willingness to expand.  When we choose expansion, our ideas become bigger, our actions become bolder, and our successes can be more impactful.  The ideas, actions, and results reflect who we are and how we relate to ourselves, others, and circumstances.  There are no guarantees of success, but more and greater opportunities for success present themselves.

As I experienced success with vision board gatherings, I have tried things that there were not on my list, including: hosting the inaugural “Lifting As We Climb” annual brunch to honor women who positively impact their communities, hosting the Motown Men Brunch on Father’s Day Saturday, and organizing the Women With Wisdom and Courage virtual group. I get extra smiley faces for these.

”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle

 

 

What To Wear To Work

Even as a director, I hate selecting what to wear to work each day. In April 2018, General Motors CEO Mary T. Barra announced the new GM workplace dress code: “Dress appropriately.” The dress code policy is one of the most frequent workplace conversations in all organizations, so let’s talk about it:

Why Have a Dress Code

First and foremost, a person’s attire may not correlate to how well she may perform her job.   Even so, the dress code policy is an attempt to instill or support customer confidence that services and products will meet or exceed expectations. Confidence is emotional and may not be rationale.  For example, when the server working for a national restaurant chain arrives at my table dressed in a fringed outdoor leather jacket to take my order, I leave and business suffers at least the loss of one sale and customer.

Appropriate Attire for the Interview

Unless instructed otherwise by an interviewer, a sure way to be appropriately attired for an interview is to wear a business suit or an equivalent that your grandparents would approve of if they were to take you to meet a dignitary or elected official. You are dressing up for the occasion to meet someone held in esteem about importance business —your livelihood. This is a business and financial transaction; your clothes and appearance convey the importance of the occasion and enhance your resume and interview answers. Everything needs to work in concert to communicate “I am ready, willing, and able to work; I will give you the needed talents and skills you request for the appropriate salary; and you’ll be glad you hired me.”

Appropriate Attire Once Hired

Once hired, review the dress code policy, and if in doubt, ask your supervisor what attire is appropriate. The established standard may be influenced by customer and client contact, safety concerns, as well as outdated social norms. Thanks Michelle Obama for ripping the tradition requiring women to wear panty hose in the workplace. Tattoos, piercing, and natural hair styles are becoming more prevalent in the workplace and will continue to increase as the workplace becomes more diverse. Supervisors should be willing to initiate conversations with leadership to discuss the evolution of appropriate dress as they are well situated to see the staff each day and observe issues.

Dressing for Success (Promotion)

Dressing for success and promotion means wear clothes that represent the level of responsibility to which you aspire. It gives you familiarity with the attire and it gives others a visual subliminal message that you are ready for an elevation.

To help ease my morning frustrations on what to wear, I opted to purchase uniform styled shirts with the company logo and my name. So most days in my logo shirt, slacks/skirt, and natural hair off to work I go. How about you?

 

 

 

 

The Conversations We Don’t Want To Have

I attended a funeral of a colleague almost two decades ago. His death was unexpected. During the funeral services, my quiet tears escalated to painful howls and uncontrollable tears.  I had lost my mentor, my friend.   I had not imagined I would experience that much loss, pain, and grief in my work life.   Vulnerability.

Once we become leaders, we bear the added responsibility of imparting bad news:  conducting the poor performance reviews, giving notice of staffing reductions, and communicating the death of a team member to his colleagues.  These are the conversations that we don’t want to have.  They are difficult and uncomfortable for all involved. They elicit feelings of disappointment, helplessness, and grief.  More Vulnerability. 

It seems that 2018 has brought more than its share of those conversationa to my doorstep.  Here are my reflections on having those conversations: 

We must acknowledge that we are delivering significant and sensitive information.    We must handle it with care.  We cannot simply deliver facts.  We must engage our hearts.  

We must be respectful, kind, and compassionate.   We realize the current situation is not ideal for ourselves and the others involved,  and we hope the time will come when the grieving are consoled, the helpless become empowered, and the disappointed find contentment.  

When our conversations are delivered with those heart-felt intentions, we get through the  conversations we don’t want to have.  They are tough and we are courageous.  We hold the potential for better days ahead.  Possibility.

I invite your reflects and your thoughts.