Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #14b: Confessions and Reflections

This is the second of two posts reflecting on what has worked, and what hasn’t, since conceiving and implementing the Hot Mommas Project case study competition. See first Confessions and Reflections post.

It ain't pretty. Computer + Face Mask = Fake Relaxation

It ain't pretty. Computer + Face Mask = Fake Relaxation

Pictured here, I am “relaxing” with my computer open.  Quite unsightly on a number of levels. First confession: I may be a part time working mom physically, but I am full time-plus mentally. I am constantly thinking about the project. I’m freaking exhausted. I seriously think I have carpal tunnel in my shoulder.


What keeps me going?

Comments like this:

“Thanks for making me feel like I matter.”

“I am writing my case to be a role model for my girls.”

Shout outs to our case writers here.


What is this, where I am, who are you? If this is your first time here, this is the insider’s blog for The Hot Mommas Project. We are a women’s leadership project housed at the George Washington University in DC and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture/organization…while being led by a mom working part time. Our big thing right now is the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition. Click here to nominate someone.

Yes – business junkies – I am refusing to use the term BHAG because it makes me somewhat nauseous. Sorry Jim Collins.


Now, onto a commentary on the second half of the posts-to-date about the Hot Mommas Project journey. 


#6 Help Arrives – Disappointing. This person left. I feel this internal voice sometimes like the “I’m melting!” voice of the Wizard of Oz witch.

# 7 How to Implement – The central point of this post was to show how Esther (first intern) and I were getting things done. In theory, a lot of this information is right on. In practice, I have found much tweaking is needed. FOCUS is clearly the most important takeaway. Just when I think the team and I are focused, we get more focused. We are now all focused on a single number each week. That number is published cases. Then, we back into how to make that happen. It is a challenge. The team is comprised of students. They have classes and it is very, very hard. Last week was our first big success.  More in Management and Leadership. 

#8 Sponsorship – All the tips mentioned by Julie Silard Kantor from NFTE in this post are right on.  One thing I was a bit naive about  – or had sort of forgotten – is how much time it takes to raise money.  Time time time. Time to do proposals. Time to follow up. I feel crushed under the weight of the fundraising to do list. And, without a bunch of funding, we can’t really pay for someone else’s time.  I have raised money before, but, it’s just the time. I don’t have it anymore. So, sponsorship seeking efforts have been majorly back burnered. Again, the focus is on getting case studies written because that is what we can show to sponsors and say “See? This is worth funding.” The first funding we got fell in our lap, and that was after having a very close partnership with GW for years. It was not an overnight thing.

# 9 Networking our Brains Out – The central point of this post is really how we took a big leap, got on a plane, and headed out to BlogHer. Getting involved with the blogging and social media community has been one of the BEST things we’ve done. It made me realize our project really is the intersection of curricula (specifically, case studies) and social media.  This also talks about some podcasts I did for SBTV.  When we look at hits on our site or our blogs, it is pretty clear where they are coming from.  My two cents would be: Get out there, do the podcasts, look at the hits and see if traffic is coming from those sites. If not, don’t do it again. At the very least you have some content to which you can link. We’ve created a buzz page with all the links to podcasts, coverage, etc. Shout out to PinkHeels, We-Inc, WPO, Alltop, and the amazing and motivated bloggers and entrepreneurs who never cease to amaze me in their genuine efforts to help us get the word out about this project. Jennifer Moore, Lydia Fernandes, Julie Weeks, Karen Kerrigan, Susan Apgood, Barbara Kasoff , Horace Robertson, Tanisha Douglas are  just a few of the people THIS WEEK who are tirelessly helping spread the Hot Mommas Project word.

I’ll say it again: Shout outs to our case writers here.

#10 How to Get Press and Buzz – All of the stuff from this post works.

Good surprise: Twitter is unbelievable.  I’m convinced Twitter is comprised of the overachievers of the social media world. Also,  Peter Shankman of HARO said it was okay for us to submit a query. We got LOTS of nominations and some of our first case writers out of that.

Bad surprise:  I am a bit surprised that we have gotten NO COVERAGE from HARO reporters. We’ve probably written to 20 different reporters.  We’ve had a few “I’ll keep you in mind for future stories.”  Some reporters don’t write back at all. I guess this is just the way it works?

#11 Top 7 Low/No Cost Stuff to Use in Business – Here’s an easy one: I still like all of this stuff.

#12 SEO and Link Love – The main point of this post was to describe search engine optomization techniques. There are lots of others. This is just what we learned at a BlogHer DC conference. We are still not quite up to the looking up key words and letting that guide the naming of our posts. However, I find one of the most effective things for driving traffic (for us) is advertising blog posts at places like Twitter and Facebook (Hot Mommas Project group).  Other places we’re trying to post include Shine, BlogHer, and Powder Room Diaries (from Success in the City).  It is very clear where the traffic comes from. For instance, Twitter works. Shine – we’re not sure.  BlogHer and Powder Room Diaries – we’re just getting started with that.  I invest in Twitter, however. I really like it. I am not on BlogHer or Shine that much which could be a factor. Again, all of this is about 1. Trying stuff and then 2. Looking at blog and site hits and seeing if it’s working. Specifically “incoming links” and searches that folks do to arrive at the site.

#13 Leadership and Management – This felt like a fight I had to fight everyday. Just last week, I felt as if we were over the hump. How, why?

a. Let the numbers be the bad guy. We finally came up with a simple system that worked for everyone (a grid),  we projected measurable goals out several weeks, and we’re either on track or off track on these goals in our meetings. We then discuss “why?” (What’s working, what’s not) and that becomes my agenda for following up with the team during the week. I think I got so caught up in Cameron Herold’s Top 5 concept that I abandoned old principles I used to use with other teams, and taught to clients. That’s not saying that Backpocket COO stuff doesn’t work. It clearly does. It’s just to say you have to make it your own and have the patience to do that. The Goals, On Track, Off Track system is great and works. Below is an example of the grid we use.  Excel doesn’t paste well here, but, you get the general idea.

KATHY GOAL – 100 cases      
    Emails/Contacts Commitments Published cases STATUS
Starting total     15  
26-Nov 2-Dec 250 20 2 On track – above goal by 2.
3-Dec 9-Dec 250 20 2 Target this week:
10-Dec 16-Dec 250 20 5  
17-Dec 23-Dec 250 20 5  
24-Dec 30-Dec 250 20 10  
31-Dec 6-Jan 250 20 10  
7-Jan 13-Jan 20 5 10  
14-Jan 20-Jan 20 5 10  
21-Jan 27-Jan 0 0 25  
  TOTAL     94 50 = conservative, 100 = stretch

b. Cheerlead (is this a word?) toward results. We had our first success last week: The intern marketing efforts resulted in published cases in our case competition. I kept in close touch with the team around their goal for the week, the status, and where they were in reaching out to case authors. One intern texted this: “Right now I’m waiting for people I’ve emailed to get back to me.”  I wrote back, “Don’t passively wait. Follow up, send additional information, see what the status is.” That helped. Now, with some results under their belts, we’re building on a culture of positive energy and success.

#14 How to Do A Business Model – Mike Morris’s tool for building a business model is still the best I’ve seen.


Time – there’s never enough, so, get over it. The real challenge is this: Time, time, time.  There are so many different things I could be doing. Setting up speaking engagements, sending press releases, etc. It goes down on the list because the team and I have decided the NUMBER ONE priority is GETTING PEOPLE TO WRITE CASES.

Cheerleading. I once heard a successful CEO say his most important job was being a cheerleader to his employees. This week, I really came to understand what that means. After countless hours strategizing, implementing, evaluating, then RE-strategizing, RE-implementing, and RE-evaluating we had our first success last week: The interns’ marketing efforts resulted in published cases in our case competition.

Patience. I was not very patient with the process of finding the right solution and rhythm with the team and achieving results.  It felt like a struggle. It kind of sucked. Now, with the first major successes under our belt (successes as WE are defining them which is published case authors in the Hot Mommas Project library), I look back and it seems to make sense. But, the journey is not always fun. You have to have a high pain threshold. I am a pretty optimistic person, too, but am desperately afraid of failure once I mentally commit to something.

The next post will be on our judges who will – as The Bloggess says – BLOW.YOUR.MIND.

Nominate a role model to write their case study TODAY at

19 thoughts on “Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #14b: Confessions and Reflections

  1. Got here due to Guy Kawasaki’s tweet and this is a great article. As a mother and entrepreneur myself, I wanted to hear your story.

    I am in awe and encourage you to continue your forward progress. I will be reading past and future posts!

  2. Good luck and much success! I was one of the first women to wear combat boots. I was paving the way in the world for women. Right or wrong..I was doing it. I was doing it with lipstick and frilly undies. I was tired too like you but I kept pushing and just recently got to design the house of my dreams. Hard work pays off.

    • Are you serious about the combat boots thing? If so, you are a stud. However, you know about nature – so, you are a study nonetheless. I kill plants with one look.

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog! I have you listed on my blogroll too. It’s an honor to be a part of the project and thank you for the nomination. I’ll do my best to write from my heart and relay the events to success. I’m not really a writer but I can tell a good story.

  4. Pingback: #18 Top 5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage. Media Training Part 2 – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time. « Building A Million Dollar Business Part Time (Hot Mommas Project Insider’s Blog)
  5. Pingback: #27 Confessions and Reflections – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time « Building A Million Dollar Business Part Time (Hot Mommas Project Insider’s Blog)
  6. Pingback: Summary of Posts 2 – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time « Hot Mommas Project blog
  7. Pingback: Summary of Posts 3 – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time « Hot Mommas Project blog

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