Lisa J. Smith Is Empowering Female and BIPOC Business Owners to Go From Surviving to Thriving

Jun 17, 2024 | Member Spotlight

Lisa J. Smith has been selling in some shape or form her entire life. In fact, at just 8, she remembers negotiating alongside her dad to get a new color television for the family. “I was born to be an entrepreneur,” she laughs. Now that sales passion has become the foundation for a booming coaching business.

After selling professional services for over 30 years, Lisa launched SMITH co., a premiere sales coaching practice for female and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) business owners. It wasn’t her first entrepreneurial venture. After a layoff, she launched a design consulting business in 1999, an all-too-common experience for many women.

Lisa later returned to college and earned her MBA to work in the C-suite or to own her own firm. This allowed her to shift her focus from interior design to marketing, advertising and sales. It wasn’t until June of 2020, during COVID, that she felt confident to launch SMITH co.

The timing just felt right. Lisa had moved to Minnesota and was working in a corporate position she didn’t love. When everything came to a halt during the lockdown, Lisa realized two things. One, sales and work in general were going to change dramatically, calling for a new strategy and approach. And two, work was no longer dependent on geography. You could be a global firm working virtually anywhere.

“Because my spouse was covering our healthcare and we were virtual, I could leave my corporate job and leverage the 30 years of a professional network I had built and kept up from coast to coast,” she says about taking the leap to become an entrepreneur again.

Through SMITH co., Lisa now helps clients to reframe their sales mindset and behavior, the two most important criteria for success. Her do-it-with-you approach ensures they have a coach, guide and accountability partner. She builds the strategy, process and tools for sales success, which in turn opens the door to longevity, staying power, independence and wealth.

Still, 2023 was a particularly difficult year financially. Her early entrepreneurial decisions and mistakes caught up with her just as the economy slowed and inflation skyrocketed. Lisa had put all her eggs in one basket and hadn’t invested in her own sales process and business development.

“I had no sales for several months, and then I began doing what I tell my clients to do,” she explains. “I had a good service niche, but I had to put the processes in place and then go sell, sell, sell, and be very disciplined about it. I was able to turn the business around and had an epic first quarter of 2024.

To stay on the pulse of what her clients need, and what they are facing, Lisa is constantly speaking in-person and on webinars and podcasts and making herself available where women are doing business, particularly in BIPOC communities. She also recently developed a research survey with a partner in New Zealand to learn even more. The report has just become available.

Three years ago, Lisa was invited to a NAWBO Minnesota event by a business owner in her network. Lisa joined, then later moved to Wisconsin and got involved with NAWBO there. She’s now looking forward to engaging with one of NAWBO’s largest chapters, Chicago.

Across her membership, Lisa has co-chaired the Catalyst Fund, which helps to lower the cost of events and programming for women business owners, to make them more accessible, and provides scholarships for early-stage entrepreneurs. “We raised $20,000 in one night for the Catalyst Fund,” she shares. “It was a lot of work, and I’m really proud.”

So what’s next for Lisa and SMITH co.? She’s currently in scaling mode and excited for her business to turn 4 next month. “If I get to 5, that means I’ve beaten the odds, so I’m seizing the moment and really trying to get out there so I can help more women and more women can help each other.”

Indeed, always selling in some shape or form, because it’s what Lisa was born to do!

What Keeps Women Business Owners Surviving vs. Thriving?

  • Pricing: They don’t price their services for the value they create. “We all do it,” she says, “but pricing is a huge issue that directly impacts revenue and profitability. It’s a big area in which women entrepreneurs can improve.”
  • Time: They think they don’t have enough time to invest in their sales process and business development, however, this is a very limiting belief. When you invest in these things, you can scale and grow. “If you own the organization, you have to sell,” she says. “It’s the thing that’s going to feed you.”
  • Fear and Anxiety: Many women entrepreneurs find themselves held back by fear and anxiety when it comes to selling their services. But it’s essential to embrace sales as a fundamental part of building a thriving business and personal brand. “It’s about changing your mindset,” she says. “My services solve my clients’ problems with a completely different way of approaching it.”
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