Monthly Archives: February 2015

How Can I Run My Business With All These Distractions?


Sondra’s business grew rapidly in the past 18 months as she expanded product lines. Then she added three new employees last quarter when she opened a second store.

With two retail locations and a constantly expanding line of products, Sondra can’t keep up with all the details. She is constantly bombarded with employee requests for time off from work and yesterday several employees came to work with ripped jeans and t-shirts which is not the image Sondra wants to present to her customers. The employees say they thought the dress code was casual.  This morning she spent an hour sorting out a dispute between two employees.

Now it seems one of the new employees at the new store is not working out and should probably be fired, but  Sondra needs time to read the store manager’s notes to verify the grounds for terminating employment. Then she needs to hire a replacement.

Sondra’s been delaying taking action because she hates these administrative tasks. But she also knows her business is getting stuck because she’s stuck making up the rules as she goes.  She knows she can’t procrastinate any longer. She considers hiring an HR consultant to fix all these HR issues. Then she realizes that hiring a consultant would be a waste of money if she doesn’t first decide what she wants, so she wades into the details that will fix her employee problems:

  • Step one is to revise the job description for her store employees to ensure the next employee has the qualifications she needs.
  • Step two is to create a list of what constitutes proper attire in the work place.
  • Step three is to create a time table for each work day so that employees know when each work shift begins and ends and the consequences of showing up late (or not at all).

Then Sondra asks her store managers to review the new rules. Based on their suggestions, she decides to add a dispute resolution process to make sure future employee disputes don’t escalate. Now that all the basic details have been hashed out over several weeks, Sondra can hire an HR consultant to actually create an employee handbook for her business.

Every small business begins as Sondra’s did, with informal employee and HR policies. As the business grows and adds employees, it is necessary to create administrative structure to ensure the whole business runs smoothly. Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor assists business owners in creating HR policies appropriate to their company size so that business owners like Sondra are free to actually run their businesses.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website:

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Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion

Bates Nursery 1

David Bates is a nurseryman who grew up in a family business, Bates Nursery and Garden Center, begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, his grandmother, Bessie Bates.  He is also my husband of 30 years so this interview was convenient. I am awed by the way he made something where there was nothing and I thought you might benefit from how David embraced technology to expand his customer base with social media, and writing a weekly newsletter that is received by over 11,000 readers.

David had about 2,500 subscribers prior to 2009 and wrote only sporadically.  During a rough patch, after he had sold the business and then had to take it back, there were limited financial resources for conventional advertising.  He began looking for ways to expand his customer base.  The fact that customers tend to age, and with many of his customers in their early 60’s, it became apparent that there was a need to attract new and younger customers for the long haul.

Conventional at first, the newsletter featured only garden tips.  David needed wider parameters than exclusively writing gardening tips for the weekly newsletter. “Seasonal reminders are a good thing but I needed more content and began to inject more of myself into the newsletter, making it more personal.“  The newsletter has proven to be worth the effort, based on the response he gets from customers.  “I write them as though I am writing to one person.  When people receive it, my hope is they feel as though they are getting a personal note from me to them.  Consequently, I think people feel more comfortable with me and respond the way one friend does to another.  I am a person who has gone through a lot of bumps in life; the things I write about along those lines tend to be the posts I get the most response from.  They often don’t have anything to do with gardening.“

More on David’s writing process and social media in my next post.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Is Your Brain High Jacked?

Limbic Brain

I had an odd experience the other day.  I had made an appointment for an orientation to a wellness center, but when I arrived at the appointed time, my name could not be found in the computer. A little background would be in order – since I have a hyphenated last name, computers often struggle with me. However, they tried all possible combinations and nothing came up.  I was offered the opportunity to  a) come back an hour later, b) reschedule, or c) receive a free personal training session as a compensation.

What was interesting to me was my reaction.  I became tearful; my voice began to quiver; I stated that I was irritated and upset and that none of those options were acceptable, and I walked out.  As I walked to the car, I felt my heart pounding, and when I got to the car, I got in, slammed the door, and tried to figure out what on earth had happened.  I was reacting to this computer glitch as though I had been personally attacked and I was feeling hurt, powerless and angry.  My brain had been high jacked!

I knew that I was in the grip of an adrenaline rush powered by a variety of neurochemicals and that I was not responding rationally.  I also knew that something was powering this that was bigger than a computer glitch.  So I took a few minutes to sit with myself – but nothing came up.  I was still distressed.  I decided to leave and to check this out when I was a bit calmer.

Later, I looked again at what had happened and I discovered the iceberg beneath the seemingly insignificant experience.  For me, the iceberg included ambivalence about committing to an exercise program based on fear of injury (old stuff), a story that I was telling myself that said something like, “You’ll never be able to do this right. Why are you even trying?” (self-judgment), and a sense of hopelessness about my body.  Wow!  What I found out was that even getting in the door of this wellness center had been a huge stretch and that I was carrying a lot of self-judgment that was activated by this small disappointment.

I called and made another appointment, and I will take that free session as compensation!

This kind of experience is actually quite common in human beings.  Our limbic system, ruled by the amygdala and based on fear, can high jack our logical, thinking brain all too easily.

What can you do when your brain is high jacked?

  1. Recognize it – you want to react much more strongly than the situation warrants; you have physical responses – heart pounding, breathing quickened, voice changes; you want to react impulsively.
  2. Leave the situation if possible – take a break; drink water; go for a walk.
  3. If you are with a partner or a friend, explain that you need a time out.
  4. When the physical symptoms pass, sit with yourself and listen without judgment. Your body and brain know a lot about what has happened, and if you listen to yourself, you will learn.
  5. Do what is necessary to repair the situation.

Careful listening and self-compassion are the keys to a better understanding of your own brain.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.” Contact Susan at

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Flying Solo:  Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed

Flying Solo

I am self-employed.  Notwithstanding a part-time hourly gig, I am entirely responsible for my work product, time management, working conditions, clientele and income.  In the past, I spent years working in a corporate environment; a place I learned is not for me.  But being my own boss is not without challenges, either.  Thankfully, I have my supportive HerSavvy friends to help me over the rough spots and to celebrate my victories big and small.  In fact many of us are self-employed, leading one Savvy gal to refer to us as her “advisory board.”  I LOVE IT!!!!  Indeed there is a veritable font of knowledge flowing through this group so I decided to ask the question: What are the pros and cons of being your own boss?  And being the generous women they are, they gladly opened up and shared some of their lessons learned.  So, in no particular order, here are some answers from our HerSavvy Advisory Board:

“For what it’s worth, I love being self-employed because I have complete and utter creative and aesthetic control over my products and how they are presented, marketed and packaged. There’s no group that has to sign off on my new collection or the colors of my logo. I also enjoy being able to accept challenges and quickly modify offerings/policy based on client feedback. What I often struggle with is switching between the creative (right brained) responsibilities and the business/analytical (left brained) tasks. I find that to be most effective, I often need a bit of space between the two.”

“What I like – no issues with changing schedules as needed.  What I don’t like – being all things – custodian, bookkeeper, office manager, marketer etc…until and unless you have funds to outsource all this, it is a lot of work to wear all these hats.”

“Practically, my biggest hurdle to overcome was technical support.  I had resources to address all the legal consulting issues specific to my profession.  It was having/maintaining the technical tools that was tough. In a broader sense, I had to critically analyze my greatest weakness(es) and find outside resources to bolster my practice.  It takes a critical, objective eye and the willingness to admit that ‘you can’t do it all.’  That can be very difficult for some people. For me the biggest pros were not bowing to bureaucratic requirements that got in the way of serving my clients and freedom to set my own hours, focus on the type of law I wanted to practice, etc.  I also had greater freedom about setting my rates and even accepting consideration other than money.”

“Pro: You are your own boss.  Con: You are your own boss.  But expanding on the Pro side, you have flexibility with your time.  Even though all of us that are self-employed put in many hours each week we can take the time to go to that special family event or take our vacations on our schedule and not someone else’s.   And on the Con side being your own boss means you wear many different hats and that can be stressful and very tiresome at time.”

“Pro: Flexible schedule.  Con: Having to keep a watch on every piece of the business (i.e., billing, scheduling, business filings, etc.); not having anyone else to help manage those things.”

“Pro: I absolutely love the ‘Flexibility’ of being self-employed!  Con: The need to continuously look for the next job!”

“I thrive on the accountability of it. You do good work for a client you get rewarded; there are not as many variables between you and the work you do, unlike in a large corporate firm where the performance or needs of partners. etc., may affect you. I like control so this allows me maximum control over my work and reward. On the other side it is occasionally lonely. While your employees may be friends with each other, as their boss I could not have the same level of camaraderie. This is especially true in a small environment when you have 2/3 people working for you.”

So, there you have it, straight from the mouths of the most successful, motivated, intelligent, passionate, creative and amazing women I have ever known.  If you are self-employed, let us know your pros and cons and how you keep it all together.  Stay Savvy, my friends!

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website at

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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