From the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Girl Talk

Women do a great job advocating for their companies, clients and subordinates, but they shy away from negotiating on their own behalf, says Linda Babcock, a James M. Walton professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Babcock's book, Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, documents women's tendency to stick up for everyone but themselves. Indeed, your strong women managers may be frustrated about their career prospects-so frustrated that they abruptly quit, says Babcock.

"In a small company, a worker could think 'They should know I need this [opportunity],'" she explains. So it's crucial to ask what opportunities they want to go for.

Go further by supporting membership in business organizations with mentoring groups, adds Toni Reece, president of Baysix Training Inc., a Reading, Pennsylvania, performance management firm. Seasoned women entrepreneurs and managers are the backbone of groups like the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, which Reece is organizing in Pennsylvania.

"Women need to learn that they don't lose their convictions when they stand up for themselves," says Reece. "They want more money and influence, and they need to say so."

Get Moving

Traffic congestion is such a pain in the bumper that business owners need to think about ways to work around it, says Bob Pindroh, director of the Rio Hondo College, Southeast Los Angeles County Small Business Development Center in Commerce, California.

The fact that congestion is so unpredictable is what really throws a monkey wrench into business schedules. "You can't go by distance" when planning trips, Pindroh says. "You have to go by [travel] time."

A strategy used by Ender Technology Corp., a Torrance, California, Web design and hosting firm, is to conduct local meetings via e-mail and phone until it's necessary to meet face to face, says Mike Felbinger, a Web designer at Ender. Clustering meetings in the middle of the day helps, too. So does scheduling meetings by geography so you can see several clients located near each other.

One tactic to minimize operational traffic jams is to equip employees with the tools to work in odd bits of time-like when they arrive half an hour early for an appointment. Providing power connections that let notebook computers draw from car batteries, and equipping those computers with wireless Internet modems, makes it easy for employees to keep working during gaps in scheduling.


78%
of middle-market executives report that customers increasingly expect them to go beyond the standard business relationship.
SOURCE: Grant Thornton International

77%
of of workers drive to work alone, while
10%
carpool.
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau

Joanne Cleaver has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Executive Female.