From the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Your husband must be very proud of you." When Gilda Piccoli hears that phrase from a man, she knows exactly what's happening.

"He's flirting with me," says the 28-year-old owner of Warwick, Rhode Island, IDK Promotional Specialty Co., which imprints company logos on creative promotional products. "I run across this all the time. I do a lot of trade shows, and when I'm in the booth, men come up to me. They kind of beat around the bush, acting as if they're interested in the product. But they really want to know more about me--my background and whether I'm married."

Instead of getting angry and confrontational, Piccoli firmly steers the conversation back to business. And that's exactly what she should do, says Marina Grant, president of Grant Communications, which specializes in employment law and conflict resolution. When someone makes an improper comment, "You need to proceed in a professional way and show you're not shaken by his unprofessional behavior," says Grant.

You should also put the focus on his professional behavior and knowledge of the business at hand, as a signal to get back to business, Grant says. "It shows you're [ignoring] his unprofessional behavior," she explains. "Unless he's a complete louse, he'll stop."

Never point out the inappropriate behavior and become a combatant. Instead, follow Grant's advice for dealing with unprofessional behavior:

  • Ascertain whether the action is truly an improper advance. People from other cultures have different customs that could be misinterpreted.
  • If you're not sure whether the behavior is inappropriate, try to clarify what the person is doing. For instance, if the individual is touching his lips you could ask, "Do you want me to lower my voice?"
  • If someone brushes against you, apologize and say, "I didn't mean to bump you."
  • Try to acknowledge behavior that is appropriate and thank the person for his professional manner.

Dream Weaver

Foundation makes it easier for entrepreneurial aspirations to be fulfilled.

If you have a burning desire to open a business but are short on cash, credit history or business training, Silva Mirzoian can help.

The Beverly Hills, California, entrepreneur has created a nonprofit corporation, Passions and Dreams Funding Inc., to help women in California achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. "I was a business owner for 18 years, yet found it difficult to get financing to expand my business," says Mirzoian, who was turned down by banks even though she had business experience and owned property. "If I, as a businessperson with all these qualifications, was having a hard time, I realized how difficult it could be for a divorced woman supporting children, who may not have worked for a long time, [to get a business loan]."

That's why Mirzoian started Passions and Dreams, a certified SBA intermediary that's eligible to handle the agency's women and minority prequalification and LowDoc programs, as well as 7(a) loans of up to $1 million. In addition, Passion and Dreams is in the process of creating a fund that will make available loans of $5,000 to $25,000 at 9 percent interest with no payments for the first six months to entrepreneurs of both sexes who don't qualify for SBA financing.

People applying for these loans must have or obtain business training, and have their business monitored monthly for the duration of the loan.

For additional information, contact Passions and Dreams at (310)?73-1019 or http://www.passionsndreams.org

Contact Sources

Grant Communications, (800) 232-4371, http://www.grantcomm.com

IDK Promotional Specialty Co., (401) 734-9585, http://www.idk4u.com