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Monday Motivation: What’s Your “Herstory” this Women’s History Month?

March 1, 2021

Women’s History Month Inspiration for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Females

The yellow pages of history – which I love referring to as herstory – had a lot to do with landing me exactly where I was supposed to be. I was born in 1964 during the second wave of feminism when women of all ages began to fight to secure a stronger role in America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 included Title VII that prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of gender. Members of the National Organization of women strove for equality breaking down social and legal norms. I believe coming to life in 1964 sparked my feminist spirit.

My mother, born to traditional Italian immigrants, broke conformity by fighting for her own individual future by going to college where she worked numerous jobs to pay for school for her future independence. Graduating in 1963 with a four-year college degree gave her choices to begin her career – the first woman in her family to do so. I am positive some of her feminist genes landed in my body being born a year later to her dismay as an interruption in her professional future. I was raised to be a very independent girl.

Feisty at the core from the beginning of life, I’ve never backed away from a chance to lead others – mainly women – as evident by putting together an all-female election slate in 1979 for student government. Although we didn’t win, I continued to lead and push forward female issues in becoming a woman entrepreneur, serving only women business owners the past quarter-century, creating an all women’s sports network, and women’s equality division to my company. Women are first in my life and will be forever.

During Women’s History Month, I encourage you to look at your “herstory” starting with significant events that occurred the year you were born. Examine the women in your life who sparked your interest in pro-female beliefs and attitudes. Dive into your core to find “pink-related issues” that move you today like equal pay, electing female political candidates, protecting women’s reproductive rights, buying from women in business, and filling the stands at women’s sporting events. This is the month to get in touch with your feelings on women’s issues and get more involved in 2021.

Commit to doing something every single day in March 2021 that supports women in your life or community. Don’t be afraid to speak from your heart and soul about female issues that must change in your eyes. We need you to get more involved. Don’t back down – rev up. Women’s past history shows you why. Let’s make a difference in our generation too.

Don’t Let Your Revenue Flow Freeze in February

February 25, 2021
Thursday Thoughts, Revenue Flow Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

The flow of revenue for a small business is a make or break situation much like the necessity for free-flowing water in frozen pipes. Sometimes water falls out easily and abundantly doing and other times water turns to ice creating backups, dams, and lack of this vital resource.

Sometimes trying to collect on receivables in a small business in the middle of winter, especially during a pandemic, can feel the same way as water flow. Most times clients pay on time and the flow of cash is steady and plentiful; but other times for unknown reasons reliable customers stop paying on time which causes a drought of different sorts for small business owners.

Here are three tips about the most challenging aspects of cash flow – invoicing – to help you if you face this issue as a small business owner:

* Invoicing isn’t always straightforward. The basics are simple if you have an invoicing system in place, but other commitments and interruptions can sometimes get in the way. It is essential to get invoices out on time when you are busy. This is a common problem small business owners and especially solo-entrepreneurs face. When your business is thriving and you are busy working to make money, it can be hard to stop and take time to send invoices. It is essential for a healthy cash flow to make invoicing a regular part of your work week.

* Following up on overdue invoices is essential for getting them paid. Although time is always at a premium in a busy small business, you have to commit to following up on outstanding invoices once a week. Sometimes it might take 3 to 5 pieces of communication before someone pays an invoice. Use both phone and email communication alternatively until you are paid.

* If your customers ask for more time to pay their bill, ask them to commit to paying 50% today and give them another 2 weeks to pay the other 50% if you can wait that long. You might have to do this if you are working with loyal customers. Make sure if you give them more time to pay the second half of the bill you automatically followup with them when the second payment is due.

Invoicing is just one part of business that isn’t always a top priority for a solo entrepreneur but since cash flow is the life blood of a business, invoicing and collection of revenue is vital for corporate success.

Wednesday Wisdom: What’s Your Personal Brand Image?

February 24, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Business Success Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

It is 11:30 p.m. on any Saturday night. What’s the first image that comes to mind? Watching a movie with your significant other? Getting in from a night out on the town (pre-Covid)? Simply reading in bed? For me, it is Saturday Night Live because I was a teenager in the mid-1970s. The show first aired on October 11, 1975, and has been in my life a long time, much like Lawrence Welk’s weekly Champagne Room performances for my grandparents.

Saturday Night Live is known for creating characters, sketches, musical performances, and parodies by poking fun at current or past celebrities, athletes, politicians, and international leaders. Iconic SNL characters have been formed around the brand of popular people. In case you didn’t know, according to Google, “a personal brand is the image that people see of you. It can be a combination of how they look at you in real life, how the media portrays you, and now even the impression that people gain from the information about you available online.”

As Women’s History Month approaches every year my inbox gets full with requests for speaking engagements, sponsorships, and ways to support female programs in and around the state all because of my corporate and personal brand image. It never ceases to amaze me how far reaching the requests are based on my company’s mission, my long-time feminist business image, and almost three decades of public outreach in many things “women.” Just like living in my house for thirty years, I’m unmovable when it comes to my passion for supporting women.

So if Saturday Night Live was creating a ‘flattering’ sketch, scene, or character replica of you, what would it look like or what would be highlighted? What images, props, costumes, colors, verbiage, and secondary characters would be around you? Can you clarify your own business or personal image in your to answer the question? If not, you need to work harder on your brand image.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to inspire you to think deeper about the paragraph above because I believe not only our companies, but each of us personally, should have a brand image easily identifiable to potential customers, collaborators, media sources, and business partners to draw them to us. There is plenty of time to create and market an old, current or new brand image. A great way to start is to Google your name and sees what comes up. Read through the articles and identify your public image. Ask staff, other female business owners, and some clients to help you in the process. If the brand they identify isn’t the one you want, get to working on a new one.

There are 31 days in March to not only celebrate Women’s History Month, but to create a stronger personal brand image . 

Monday Motivation: Become a Better Business Negotiator

February 22, 2021

Monday Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses 

A few days ago I was with one of my longtime female clients who is an expert at negotiating contracts. The key to getting what she wants is her ability to be non-emotional, frank and unwavering in her request. She doesn’t take no for an answer. She works hard to seal the deal. She is motivated exclusively by her bottom line. In the end, she might not be the most pleasant person to do business with (unless you love compromise), but she gets what she asks for and her operation is financially successful.

I’ve learned what makes her so good at getting the best deal for her company is her forthright negotiating skills. She has no problem putting what she wants on the table or walking away from a deal if her expectations are not met. Most women entrepreneurs don’t operate this way but there could be a lesson to learn from her approach.

If it’s been a while since you reviewed your own negotiating skills, take an inventory of how you make deals with clients, vendors and associates. This year every contract is important, so make sure your negotiating skills are up to par. If they aren’t, educate or train yourself on improving them. Remember there is nothing wrong in asking for what you need. It’s vital to keeping your business strong and successful.

Cheryl Sandberg

If you are a woman entrepreneur and need some support in this area, consider these options:

* Tune up your skills by reading some articles or books on negotiating like in the book “Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want” written by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.

* Read empowering and inspirational female business books like Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” to gain some great motivation.

* Ask some of the women you admire most, who are great negotiators, to lend some advice.

* Practice negotiating with a friend, family member or associate before your next big meeting or contract appointment. Get honest feedback and work on perfecting it before it really occurs.

* Review your financial numbers and be empowered to improve your bottom line by improving your negotiation skills the next time you are trying to land new business or working with increasing your benefits with an existing customer.

It is up to us as women entrepreneurs to make the deals we need to survive and thrive in business.

Wednesday Wisdom: Business Success Strategies on Ice

February 17, 2021


Wednesday Wisdom, Business Success Strategies for Women Enterpreneurs, Female Business Owners

The sun hadn’t crossed the horizon yet, the sky displayed various shades of grey, and the ground was frozen solid. All you could hear was the crunch of icy tundra, deep breathes from the sub-zero air making my lungs work, and a dog barking far away in the distance. Pulling a sled full of buckets filled with minnows, an auger to drill holes in the ice, a backpack with snacks, and bottles of water which started to form ice inside their plastic cases, I felt like I was on adventure in Alaska. “I can pull my own weight too honey, give me the sled,” I said to my husband on Valentine’s Day morning as I partook in his favorite winter activity.

Stay with me….this does have business wisdom in the story…

Once we walked a mile and a half on top the once fresh, flowing summer lake, we stopped at the perfect depth to set up the ice fishing shanty, drill two holes, put minnows on our hooks (okay I didn’t do that – a girl does have limits), relearn the skill of jigging to catch fish, and sitting down on a white plastic bucket waiting for fish to bite. The shanty was ready with a heater in case one of us got too cold to fish outside. When you looked around the lake all you can see were dots of blue, red and grey huts filled with mostly men ice fishing. I didn’t see any pink fishing huts or women on this adventure, although I was wearing my bright pink hat that caught the attention of the men in the parking lot. The feminist in me loved it.

In the serene hush of nature, as only nature can provide, I asked my husband why he ice fishes. I wanted to understand the mentality behind the sport. He said, “It helps me unwind. It’s peaceful. It helps me think.” Hmmm, I thought to myself. I do that in the summer in 80 degrees next to my pool. Eventually I moved inside the shanty to fish in the warmth of the heater when my pole took a big dive down in the hole and up came a large perch giving me a stink eye for yelling so loud and catching him. “Great job honey, that’s a big one,” my husband said. “Now put your pole right back in there and try again because if you get one then there are more down there to catch.” The addiction of thinking one more can be caught might be the reason people fish.

Through the tiny window in the shanty, I stared at my husband shivering in the cold and invited him in although it was a one-person space. We sat almost on top of each other’s to fit. “I’m so glad I came on this adventure with you,” I said to him jokingly continuing with. “Should we rename this hut the love shanty?” He sat serious waiting for his catch. Sure enough he caught one and I thought the fishing was over. “Not so fast,” my husband said, “There are more fish down there. You just have to go for them before we leave!”

Three hours later we walked back to shore as I pondered the lessons garnered on the ice that I hope inspire you today:

* Business is like ice fishing. If you catch one fish (aka client) you can catch more. Clients are out there waiting for YOU to do the work to find and hook them. Don’t stop until your bucket is full with prospects.

* Business should feel like an adventure at times – exhilarating, heart-pumping, fresh, and full of fun. If you have forgotten this feeling, rethink what you are doing and what you need to do to recapture the zest of entrepreneurship.

* Join forces with someone and try a new collaboration of sorts to open up your mind, spirit, and potential for success in a new area of business.

* Relish new methods, challenges, and situations instead of dreading them. Live and love being in business and all it brings to your table.

* Women entrepreneurs need to stay adventuresome. If you aren’t, you are missing something.

Thank you for bearing with me today as this Wednesday Wisdom took a bit of a creative turn. I hope it brought you a new perspective on living your life and running your company.

Wednesday Wisdom: Matchmaking Women Entrepreneurs

February 10, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Business Advice for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Women 

I’ve been called many things in my career, most of them good, maybe a few of them critical, but the one the stands out best in my mind is “female entrepreneur matchmaker.” This nickname didn’t require me to don red, wear angel wings, or shoot a bow, even though I did have cupid’s curly hair for awhile, but I can see why my reputation as a matchmaker of women developed.

According to Google, “Matchmaking is the process of matching two or more people together, usually for the purpose of marriage, but the word is also used in the context of sporting events such as boxing, in business, in online video games and in pairing organ donors.” The truth is I love women especially women entrepreneurs and matching them together for economic gains, business partnerships, sporting thrills, and equality marches. I want to be where they are.

If you were a Parks and Recreation fan, you might remember Leslie Knopp inventing a way to do something American culture hadn’t traditionally been too good at doing: celebrating, in an official capacity, the joys of female friendship. Leslie set Galentine’s Day as a festival that would fall, each year, on February 13: Valentine’s Day-eve. And she decided that the festivities—though the real point of it all are simply to celebrate the platonic love that exists among lady friends

In society businesswomen are supposed to be serious, professional, and almost male-like in their will to achieve success. In the mid-1980s, I was one of those young women trying to climb the corporate ladder in an investment banking firm to prove myself and make good money. It wasn’t long that I realized, a male dominant work environment did not suit or inspire me. I left it and never looked back understanding being around businesswomen was where I wanted to be and eventually who I wanted to help.

If I truly was a “women matchmaker,” you might be able to identify me with an all raspberry pink outfit, rose-colored hat, a “tie” to connect women together across New York State, and a briefcase full of wisdom to share. Perhaps near me would be a bowl full of female business cards, women’s published books, sporty gals running bibs, and a huge pay equality sign to keep the money fight going. What would your “matchmaker image” look like?

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you as you look forward to Valentine’s Day with your loved ones and partners you consider for a moment your gal pals – personally or professionally – who have loved you through good and bad times always having your wings and knowing your flight pattern. Jump on Leslie Knopp’s fictional holiday and spend time tomorrow at our Syracuse Galentine’s Networking & Inspirational Zoom Event with guest speaker and nationally known organizer Deborah J. Cabral. 

As you proceed through 2021, become the best “female entrepreneur matchmaker” you can be too. Join me in a sisterhood of buying from and supporting women in business first and foremost.

Wednesday Wisdom: Returning to Business Post-Covid Requires Research and Balance

February 3, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Entrepreneurship Advice, Small Business Advice for Women and Female Entrepreneurs

Ten women on a snowy day meeting via Zoom call, thankful for technology and not needing to drive in the snow, spent an hour contemplating business life after Covid. Prompted by a question from a woman who asked whether entrepreneurs would return to work in a physical space vs. home office, the answers were mixed as the pros and cons of using technology to conduct business in a comfortable home office was discussed.

The conversation naturally led itself into talking about the intrinsic value of spending time with customers face-to-face versus virtually. While the ease of virtual meetings highlighted the advantages of online gatherings, a majority of us acknowledged missing being with treasured clients and other women entrepreneurs physically. We agreed we look eagerly to a time when business life can return to in-person get-togethers.

The call concluded with one woman summarizing the theme of our answers – balance. When work returns to normal sometime this summer or fall after the Coronavirus has been defeated and vaccinations protect us, we all agreed that a balance of online vs. live events and having physical corporate space vs. home offices would be a blend we prefer. We’ll need to pay close attention to our communities, the overall economy, and our industries to see which way to proceed post-Covid. One thing is for certain, just like before the pandemic female business owners need, and want, to spend time together to converse, discuss, and meet.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom might inspire you to conduct research of your industry to see which way it is trending since Covid-19 struck the marketplace. Research what has stayed the same, what has changed dramatically, and what industry experts expect for the near future. No one knows for 100% certainty but starting with experts or like-minded entrepreneurs within your specific industry is a great place to begin. As today demonstrated, talking to other female business owners in our networks remains one of our greatest assets.

Don’t try guessing what business will be like in the future, spend some time talking, researching, and analyzing your industry to be better informed to make your own personal corporate decisions. 

Wednesday Wisdom: Using Systems to Ramp Up Success

January 27, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Business Success for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners 

A chirpy jingling sound radiated from my wrist as I started typing. “250 more steps” is what my purple Fitbit watch, my son bought me for Christmas knowing how much I love tracking my biking and running miles, said when I looked at it. The joyful sound made me pause, take a break from work, and walk around my house for 250 steps just to hit that goal. Honestly, it is alarming how easy it is to get in 250 steps quickly.

I  have come acustom to these periodic signals the past 27 days making my watch wearing a new habit in 2021. We all just passed the date earmarked as the day of most New Year’s Resolution failures – January 17th. Even through I was diagnosed with Covid-19 on January 16th, I was able to get my goal of walking 250 steps per hour, minus two days, all because of the reminders on my watch. 

This insight has me contemplating using these reminders to progress my business in 2021 too. I am pondering the idea of having every 250 step announcement motivate me to make 1 sales or customer call after taking the 250 steps. Doing this would give me 8 calls a day to increase revenue, touch base with a customer, answer an email via phone, or call a vendor to place an order. If becoming dedicated to walking 250 steps each hour can lead to a new sales call system, I will be able to attack my revenue goals with gusto.

Whether or not you have a Fitbit watch to maintain your 2021 fitness resolution, today’s Wednesday Wisdom inspiration might motivate you to adapt a better goal achievement system for personal and corporate resolutions. A system is defined as an organized framework or method. We all need systems to function and accelerate in business. They can be manual or computer systems or simple or complex systems. But remember, systems are only as successful as the people using them regularly and wisely.

Today why not grab your Fitbit or iphone and schedule certain reminders to aid you in elevating your game this year. You have plenty of time to reinstate your resolutions if you are more common than not on giving them up already. There is a long winter ahead to stay healthy for and alert to our business goals. Striving to achieve our big dreams might mean finding some effective systems to help us succeed in 2021.

What Covid Taught Me

January 22, 2021

Friday Feelings and Wisdom from Recovering from Covid-19

It began as an innocent trip down a frosted driveway covered with fresh laden snow with large lake effect snowflakes drifting from the totally grayish-white sky. Cool air instantly woke me up from a week long slumber tackling Covid-19. My lungs felt alive for the first time able to sense a steady flow of air in and out without laboring, congested, and weak instead healthy, stimulated and fresh.

As I approached our dark green mailbox, I opened its door which looked like a mouth greeting me to say hello. “How nice to see you” I said, realizing at this point I had become slightly delirious during my week-long illness. Many patients with Covid-19 can’t even get out of bed to walk to the bathroom or hallway, and there I was standing sturdy in my boots outside my house, not in a hospital, relieved I was feeling better. 

“Resting” is always the medicine prescribed by people who know you’re sick, and it’s easy to do when you find yourself in the middle of a serious illness but when you’re on the ever-so-upswing, rest feels relentless and so it was for me after visiting my mailbox. Before I knew it I gently strolled past the entrance to my house down my beautiful backyard hill to a pond that lies in front of our small apple orchard where I could “rest” in nature.

The senses have never been more alive. The stream from the pond was bubbling. A delicate bird sung a tune in the bushes. Summer wind charms dangling on a tree delighted the air. Every branch, pussy willow, craggy tree limb, and pine tree looked incredibly beautiful and pristine in the white fashion falling from the sky. It mesmerized me. Footstep after footstep I tried leaving the paradise of my backyard to go back up to the warm house, lit with orange flames, smelling of a stew I was able to muster up for dinner but I was entranced and in awe of nature giving me the medicine I needed most, beauty.

What a serious illness like Covid-19 teaches those of us who get it and are lucky enough to survive it, is the smallest details of life are the ones that wake us up again inspiring us to return to health so we can relish the simple things in life again…like just walking to our mailbox on a cold winter’s day.   

Our Future is Female – Thank You Amanda Gorman

January 21, 2021

Thursday Thoughts, Inspiration, Wisdom for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners

I rarely, if ever, cite someone’s full sentiments on my blog but today is different. It’s the day after a beautiful African American 22-year old girl, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, delivered a poignant moment at yesterday’s Presidential Inauguration of our nation’s 46th President. Her words beautifully spilled out, loud and bold, rhythmic and clear, for all to hear.

Amanda is a shining example of what our future looks like – diverse and female. Let Amanda’s poem lift you up today as you read it again and cherish its meaning in your own life.

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all
cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

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