Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #11: Top 7 Low/No Cost Stuff To Use In Business

The alternative title to this post is, “How to fake like you’re a big company” or “Running it lean and mean.” Let’s get right into it since I’m on vacation in Vermont.  One little story, then onto the top 7.

(Note: See past posts for our long-standing, co-dependent relationship with coffee. Nintendo recently rejected a sponsorship request from us. Starbucks MUST be involved in some way. WE ARE SOLICITING ANY AND ALL IDEAS FOR SPONSORS FOR OUR CASE STUDY LIBRARY, KICKED OFF BY OUR COMPETITION OCT 13.)

Intern for the Hot Mommas Project? Now that's a man confident in his masculinity.

Intern for the Hot Mommas Project? Now that's a man confident in his masculinity.

Hey everyone, welcome Achin to The Hot Mommas Project! He is a George Washington University MBA student. Here, he holds the Indian equivalent of Starbucks.  He is in India right now and will join us in the fall.

 

 

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INTERLUDE [Samba music plays, rudely interrupted by “You are My Friend” the horrific Barney  themesong]

Setting: The Posh Frey Honda Pilot (recently downgraded from an Acura MDX as Kathy has a gripping phobia of investing in depreciating assets).

Location: Driving from Lake George (our rainy-day plan) back to Vermont (our vacation location, where there is nothing to do in bad weather).

Josh (my husband): [Seeing a shirtless, blonde Grizzly Adams looking hitchhiker] “Hey! Let’s pick him up.”

Kathy: “Ha! Yeah.” [Pause] “Well, we do need to start looking for a new au pair.”

Josh: [After passing shirtless Grizzly Adams] “He could have been a good one.”

Kathy: [Feigning “interested friend” voice] “Your new aupair is so great! Where did you find him?” [Feigning response] “Oh, we found him on the side of the road one day on vacation.”

Josh: [Feigning response] “Yeah! Just south of a federal correctional institution in New York! No problem.”

And so goes the cost-effective search for a new au pair for the Frey family.

END INTERLUDE [Barney Theme song ends]

P.s. Did you know there is a full-on anti-Barney trend? Riveting.

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This is a really odd, tangential method of transitioning into the Top 7 Low/No Cost resources for businesses (no, we will not suggest you pick up Grizzly Adams hitchhikers for subsidized staff members):

1. Advice. Advice is the best free thing you can get.  How to get good advice:

– KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. If you are someone who thinks, “Oh, I’ll just figure it out” you’re in trouble.  I’ve noticed the willingness/ tendency/ propensity in certain people to spend 5 hours on the internet searching for something versus 5 minutes on the phone solving the problem.  I make sure my interns don’t do this (see item #7). I have a list: “STUFF I DON’T KNOW THAT IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THE HOT MOMMAS PROJECT.” Then, I search for smart people who can help me with those issues (see next item).

– HOW TO GET A NETWORK: Social media allows for relationships never before available to folks outside of the right schools or social circles. Go to www.Alltop.com to see who the players are in your industry. If they’re blogging, you can reach them.  I have also seen entrepreneurs benefit tremendously from EO (forum) and like groups. Personally, I have relied on all of the above plus I have specifically sought out role models/business luminaries I admire and am in varying stages of contacting them/working with them. For example: Ted Leonsis, Bob Prosen, Guy Kawasaki, and Stewart Friedman. The latest are Tim Ferriss, Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, and I am trying to get in touch with Gina Bianchini who co-founded Ning with Marc Andreesson of Netscape.  Based on this, Esther – my right hand woman – approached Senator Lieberman (whom she idolizes) at the movies, told him about the Hot Mommas Project, and is emailing with him. Go Esther!

– EXAMPLE: I posted the following on Twitter the other day

how atrocious is our website? We need free help for exposure. anyone? www.hotmommas.org

2. Low Cost Web Templates. I thought I was all cost efficient using the $5 GoDaddy template when I first took the Hot Mommas Project online.  Good: It’s cheap. Bad: It sucks. As we became more tech-savvy, I realized: a. It was pathetic-looking and b. It was incredibly slow  (shared server, not dedicated server).  Here are some resources suggested by Frank Gorton (fgorton on Twitter), who is a social media expert and worked with AOL and Monster.com, among others, during his career:

– http://www.wordpress.com –  Good templates, says Frank.  Even though I am doing our insiders blog on wordpress, I didn’t realize that you could use a wordpress template for your whole site (click here for Hot Mommas Project non-insiders blog). Frank recommended this to us based on our needs at this stage of the project (Nutshell of our project: Building world’s largest women’s case study library. Kicking off w/ case study competition launching October 13, 2008. Read more here.)

http://www.templatemonster.com– Frank told us about this, and Achin (new intern) had heard of it too. I have zero time (as I am doing this part time, have two kids, and yada yada) and really need to rely on others to cut through the mess and act as the social media Consumer Reports for me.

http://www.ning.com. Everyone thinks Ning is awesome (“awesome” word count from past 2 blog posts: 3). You can start a community for free using their software (with a Ning address), and for a nominal fee use your own address. It was founded by Gina Bianchini and Mark Andreesson.  Here is a cool video c/o Robert Scoble.

3. Low Cost “Other Stuff” for Our Site. Aside from the basic “how to pimp out your blog” items (see first post reference to Seth Godin’s article on this), Frank specifically noted the following beyond the basic widgets and RSS stuff:

www.Vimeo.com – get a free account and build video content. Frank suggested we film our Hot Mommas Project case study protagonists to connect people with our educational tools and take “role models on paper” to “role models on film.” We had dreamed of doing this for a long time, and were even approached by some Hollywood folk, but this is quick and does the job.

www.Brightcove.com – Here are some syndication products from Brightcove (think “Alliare” – inventors of ColdFusion software).  This could be useful if the above (Hot Mommas video case studies) are a hit or there is other content we want to syndicate (like our research on best practices in work life balance).

http://www.Twitter.com – Twitter – it’s everywhere. Frank suggested having a Twitter widget on our site would, again, humanize it and help connect people with our cause: Providing academic tools to serve as role models for women and girls (Cool Daddies beta – too!).

If you’ve ever gotten an email from Guy Kawasaki, here is something he uses that he lists as part of his signature: SpinVox(will convert voicemail to email). You can also usually find lots of fun widgets on Guy’s blog.

4. Low Cost Developers and Designers.  Achin, our newest addition, found a developer in India to convert our whole site onto a blog template if we don’t have the fortitude to do it ourselves. Frank uses a developer who charges him about $12 per hour. Contact Frank (fgorton) if you want to know who this is. Here is who Achin found for us: http://www.compose.co.in/.

P.s. Re Designers, I’ve heard of folks using eLance. I use Brad Imburgia who developed the Hot Mommas Project logo. I also used our interns to do some work. (see #7) I’m sure India also has designers.

5. Low Cost and Professional Sounding Phone System. In love with eVoice (I’m pretty sure these are the eFax people). Husband knows the guy who runs Got Voice Mail, also.

6. Low Cost and Professional Looking Printing. Big fan of Vista Print. If you plan far enough in advance, can be UNBELIEVABLY cheap.

7. INTERNS. This is a biggie, so, if you do not care about interns stop reading now. When thinking low or no cost, my personal favorite is interns. My favorite place to list them is at GW’s career site. You can also integrate your post in with NACElink which lists nationally. I also have friends who have used Craig’s list (under part time or your industry). In 1 or 2 years, these interns are going to cost someone $40,000 to $70,000 plus benefits. So, why not receive help from their fabulous brains NOW. I have had to learn to do the following to be successful with interns:

– LIST AT THE RIGHT TIME.  Think student. When are they looking for internships? Post in between January-April for the spring semester (by May you’ve probably lost them to finals). Post by early August for Fall. Post in the Fall before Thanksgiving for the Spring semester. I cannot tell you how many business owners contact me during finals in May and say, “Can you tell your students about this internship?” I give it a 1 in 100 chance at that point.

– BE GOOD AT TRAINING If you suck at mentoring, or don’t have the time or interest, don’t bother.

– HAVE AN “IT” or specific thing they can do.  There is no such thing as too much definition or clarity. Consultants, project managers, and individuals who think this way can usually easily get their brains around this.

– HAVE A WAY TO MONITOR the “it.” I discuss this in an earlier post. It is easier if you have done a good job setting a clear goal or “it” (mentioned above). I am CONSTANTLY adjusting this based on what I see in the person’s performance (e.g., If I sense they are overloaded, I stop sending lists of things to do and re-focus them a la “HERE’S WHAT WE MUST DO BY TODAY.” I will ask them to tell me, with hours by tasks, how they are spending their day…in this way, we work on time management together).

– HAVE SPACE FOR THEM. I have had experience with the student population through teaching. One thing I’ve learned is: It is HARD for most to work on their own and deliver what they say unless they are EXTRAORINARY. So, ixnay on the virtual/independent working.

– HAVE A COOL COMPANY NAME/INTERNSHIP NAME. We got infinitely more resumes with the Hot Mommas Project vs. Vision Forward. hot-mommas-internship-flyer_summer2008.

– SELECT GOOD ONES. I try to select interns where I see a minimum 1/4 ratio. That is, for every 1 hour I spend with them, they can do 4 hours of work. If I can combine several interns into the one hour, great, that is an exponential amount of work being done when everyone goes on their merry way to do a project.  A list of questions I ask is below:

HOW TO INTERVIEW INTERNS:

Interview #1: Phone interview. Min = 15 mins, Max = 1 hour

a. What drew you to the Hot Mommas Project? (Desired answer = They are interested in/passionate about the project. This is KEY.)

b. Tell us about _______________. (Ask about several items on resume to get a sense of  responsibilities). We ask about GPA if there is a problem. Below a 3.0 is a red flag (see “e” and “f” below).

c. What are your top 3 strengths? Draw from group projects, other internships? (We like to see social sophistication and a drive to succeed. If this is not apparent, we ask another question later).

d. What is something on which you’d like to work or improve. (We like to hear them admit a real weakness vs. some B.S. At this point we figure they are an over-achiever type anyway, a couple chinks in the armor show self-awareness which is ESSENTIAL for self-correction).

e. How do you organize yourself? Explain an example – beginning to end – using a major assignment or work project. (We like to see someone with an actual process for organization. If they suck at organizing themselves this means your tasks will not get done, as much as you may like them in the interview. You can turn a B+ into an A, you cannot turn a C or D into an A is our experience).

f. Do you tend to overextend yourself? (This is BEYOND CRITICAL for students who are doing MANY MANY things and often will get into the semester, freak out, then bail on you. Ask this up front. Dig a bit.)

g. What questions do you have for us? (We like smart questions, but, many are overwhelmed so we assign it to them for the next interview. We say, “Come with three questions to the next interview” if they proceed to the second round.)

h. Of the items I’ve described, what sound the most interesting to you? (If you have some flexibility and can match the intern’s interests to specific functions, you’ll have a greater chance of a happy worker.)

Interview #2 (if we ran out of time, but had a good vibe about the person, we’ll send some of the above questions for them to answer via email in between Interview 1 and 2).

a. What additional questions do you have about the project? (They should have been assigned 3).

b. What ideas do you have for the project? (They were assigned a “task” of coming up with 1-3 ideas to make sure they “get” the project).

c. Are you interested in the project (usually already apparent by end of first interview and email interactions in between interviews 1 and 2)?  (If we like them) Rate your interest from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. If not a 10, what would make it a 10? (Take notes to integrate into their job during the internship to – again – create happy workers).

d. (If we like them) We’d like to formally offer you the __________internship. (Discuss start date, weekly schedule, their ability to continue beyond one semester, confirming they understand the internship is unpaid, making for-credit arrangements, other logistics. WRITE THIS DOWN and make sure you EACH HAVE A COPY.)

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PARTING THOUGHTS: Gotta run, on vacation, need to go look for hitchhikers.

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Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #7: How to Implement

I also affectionately refer to this post as: “How to get s*&t done.”

What are the big takeaways from today’s post?:

1. Focus

2. Focus

3. Focus

Queen Esther with The Original Hot Mommas Project Business PartnerEsther, pictured here (with our original business partner), and I have been religiously and regularly deploying the “F-word”: FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. We have been very focused on results, and – unfortunately – not fun stuff like blogs.

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What is the Hot Mommas Project: In case you are lost, the Hot Mommas Project (www.HotMommas.org) is an award-winning research and curriculum endeavor on how successful professional women balance it all.  Click here for main blog. Our goal this year is to build and launch a global case study competition in which women write their own case, tell their story, help others in doing so, and might get just get in one of the nation’s top textbooks by Prentice Hall! (Let’s not forget the cash and prizes). Click here if you would like to nominate someone you know, or be notified when the competition is live. Now, onto our post:

Focus – What has NOT been happening. I started this post about a month ago and am only finishing it now. Why? I’ve been focusing. Two of my three team members bailed on me.  A set back, yes, but it forced a high level of prioritization.  Here are some keys and tips that are working:

1. PRIORITIES AND FOCUS: KEYS TO THE UNIVERSE. The Hot Mommas Project survey research (data from highly successful professional women who also want to have a life) indicates that PRIORITZATION AND FOCUS are the keys to the universe.  More on this in the future, just trust me.

2. SAY NO. SAYING NO IS A PART OF PRIORITIZATION AND FOCUSING. Newsflash to some of us overachiever “oh…I’ll just do it myself” types.  Men focus this naturally because of the way their brains work.Toilet paper roll not changed? Bed not made? It’s focus ladies.  The beauty of what’s NOT getting done COULD be – gasp – FOCUS. Not on the top three list, not getting done.

Note 1: See brain book which I’ve mentioned before.

Note 2: This of course does not allow frat boys doing beer bongs to claim they are “focusing.”

TIP: HAVING TROUBLE? Develop a DO NOT DO LIST.Works wonders. Did it when I was pregnant/post-preggo, hormonal, and nuts.

3. DELEGATE: THIS MEANS GOOD PEOPLE.  Esther is like having 2 staffpeople. And I don’t mean multiple personality disorders. I mean, she is on top of it.  So, the lesson here is GOOD PEOPLE ALLOW YOU TO FOCUS. Here is my time triage with a bad person/staffer:

TYPICAL DAY WITH BAD STAFFER:

2 hours – meeting and download with staffperson.

4 hours – staffperson works independently on project, I do my stuff.

2 hours – clean up of staffperson’s crap work. Assign staffperson some other less meaningful task I feel they can’t mess up.

2 hours – staff person works on their menial task, I get some work done.

After work: 1-5 hours – worrying about what crap work I’m going to see tomorrow.

-Total available time to get work done for me in a 10 hour day: 6 hours

-Total time spent worrying: 1-5 hours

-Scale power (hours of productive work by another person…”scale”): 2?

TYPICAL DAY WITH ESTHER:

2 hours – meeting and download with Esther.

4 hours – Esther works independently on project.

.5 hours – Approve and press “send” on project with Esther.

3.5 hours – Esther moves onto her next thing, I move onto my next thing.

1-5 hours – thinkng how awesome Esther is and how I am looking forward to tomorrow

-Total available time to get work done for me in a 10 hour day: 7.5 hours

-Total time spent being positive and happy: 1-5 hours

-Scale power (hours of productive work by another person…”scale”): 7.5 hrs

GOOD PEOPLE, GOOD PEOPLE, GOOD PEOPLE. Can’t say it enough. I finally get when the business books/business experts say “get good people.”

4. HAVE A PROCESS/FORUM FOR TOUCHING BASE ON PRIORITIES. Esther and I are really, really, really focused on results. We are constantly in touch about the big picture (where we are heading) and what steps we need to be taking NOW to get there.  In addition, I want to make sure to this is a rewarding experience for Esther so that we are in a mututally beneficial situation. Here is how we accomplish the above:

4a. Bi-Monthly Culture Check Ins.We sit down every other week at the beginning of the week. I ask her, “How is it going? Poor, Good, Great, Really Great?” Esther told me in our first meeting that things were going “Great.” I said, “What would get it to ‘Really Great’?” She said, “Talking with more contacts and coming to more meetings.” So…that is what we did. When there was a meeting, I included her. When there was an opportunity to speak with a partner or the media, I assigned it to her. By our next meeting two weeks later, Esther was giving the experience a “Really Great” rating. It has to be a two-way street, however. Employers working with Generation Y may be tempted to make it all about what the employee wants. However, this does not allow for growth or mentoring. During that same meeting, I rated the experience a “Great” also. I told her that when we started producing actual deliverables, I would probably lean more toward a “Really Great” rating. So…that is what we have been FOCUSED on: Actual Results. Not a lot of chasing your tail.

Tip: Think – if I could only do 3 things today, what would they be?Then FOCUS! Screen/test your answer by following up with this question: “Will these three things get me closer to my major goal MORE than other tasks?” If not – time to REPRIORITIZE.  Tim Ferriss is a real hard a*& about this stuff in The Four Hour Work Week.

4b. Daily Check Ins.  Esther and I check in daily. We work off a list of priorities. The list is shaped based on:

a. Our goal (in this case launching a case study competition) and

b. Meetings with experts (please, don’t try to reinvent the wheel…such a time drain).  For example, we met with a PR expert who told us NOT to lead with information about the Hot Mommas Project survey research.  Susan Matthews Apgood, owner of News Generation, told us, “The case study competition is much more interactive. There is something in it for people. They can participate, tell their own case study, help others, and be honored by winning prizes and getting their case published in a text book. LEAD with the story about the case study competition.” Well, this conversation changed everything for us. We had to be able to quickly adjust, and re-assign tasks based on the readjusted priorities.

5. RE-PRIORITIZE, RE-FOCUS. If you have a regular process for meeting to discuss goals and steps for achieving those goals, it allows for quick correction and re-prioritization. Catch as catch can meetings don’t always allow for this. It’s part of the criticism about virtual workplaces.  Thus, a formal structure needs to be created for communicating – even if it’s just a “call staff” note in Outlook. I would say that at every other meeting, Esther and I slightly bump up or down an item on the list.

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PARTING THOUGHT: Ted Leonsis talked about the relentless drive to execute in a Cool Daddies case we did on him. He checked in with staff regularly. He was basically seeing if they were getting the job done, and what they needed to get it done. He had a saying, “No bad days.” A bad day would lead to a bad week, a bad week would lead to a bad quarter, etc. It is about having processes for early correction. I think he was probably effective in building AOL, and achieving his other successes, because of this trait…but also because people wanted to do well for him.  Thus, steps 4a and 4b – and this post as a whole – is my attempt to model these behaviors. 

Building A Million Dollar Business Part Time #6: Help Arrives

Pictured here is one of the team members selected for the Hot Mommas Project competitive internship. My first thought is “YAY. The cavalry has arrived.” Albeit, the cavalry looks like a Barbie doll. (No offense Jen). Why do I – and why should you – love Jennifer? We love Jennifer because she represents HELP. And a lot of you out there – you know who you are – try to do it all yourself. You just do, because you can. I did too. Now, I must stop if I want to build a million dollar enterprise part time.

Here’s me: 50 – 75%

Here’s Jen: The rest.

YAY! Also joining Jennifer will be Esther about whom you’ll be hearing soon.

First order of business – unearthing the action plan I originally authored in Post #3. This was a beast. Doing it by myself would have been impossible. Now, and have I mentioned this already?…the cavalry has arrived.

Jen and I discuss her action plan and decide on the following:

1. Overall training

– Give her download of project, history, future direction, and her part in this future direction.

– Do something relevant and semi-fun/different by having “mavens” (interns) participate in a power-chicks bookclub selection: “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham.

– Develop Action Plan and report out weekly. Here is the action plan with which we came up today in our first meeting.

2. Develop Objective: Global Case Study Competition with goal of ready-to-launch by end of summer and 100 cases end of 2008

CHAMPION: JENNIFER

3. Develop Action Plan for May:

5/19/2008
kkf/Jen Intro and training/blog and tech netherworld
5/20/2008 Jen Make mock up of case study competition page
5/20/2008 Jen Look into domain name/blog format for case study competition
5/20/2008 Jen Research tech models/tools
5/22/2008 Jen Research: Women’s case studies (list sources – talk w/ kkf to get started)
5/22/2008 Jen/KKF Meet with Luke and Dave (tech advisors)
5/22/2008 Jen/KKF Talk with Neel (tech advisor)
5/22/2008 Jen Training: Blog and social media
5/29/2008 kkf/Jen Decide on going forward strategy (software vs manual submission)
5/29/2008 kkf/Jen Develop list of social media/online marketing, and legal/publishing advisors

Jen has already had some brilliant ideas. I am happy. This is what I have asked her to do to facilitate our working relationship:

a. Manage up – I need to be managed. Remind me of stuff. Plan 2 or 3 weeks out and start telling me what I/we need to be doing to make the objective (stated above) happen.

b. Don’t assume I know everything, and am just delivering instructions over the course of the summer. We are figuring this out together. It will be a push and pull of brainstorming, mushing it around, and having something great come out. (Not unlike the experience of having children…did I just say that?)

c. I don’t remember. I need another coffee.

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Lil’ nugget (how g is that?) – Here is my token little bit of info to help you/us/we women because – Lord knows we don’t get enough of it. In fact, in the afterlife, I hope to be someone’s husband (see that past life regression on Oprah the other day? You might have been a man. Or a princess. Or a ferret. Anything is possible ladies.) Back to the lil’ nugget:

The concept of strengths. There is a little debate going on in the business community at large about scenario A vs. B:

Scenario A: Strengthen weaknesses – Employee sucks at spreadsheets, throw him in a “killer app” spreadsheet development class.

Scenario B: Leverage strengths – Employee is amazing at networking, throw him out there to develop business and build brand. Screw the spreadsheets.

This is massively over simplified, however, you can read more and do an online seminar. Click here for links to book, free seminars, etc. on Go Put Your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham (mentioned earlier). Very easy read, and, makes you think a bit about – gasp – yourself!

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Parting Thought:

I actually think this is going work. It’s an equation. I’m at 50% or 75% in terms of time and brain space. From my mavens, I plan to get 50% work hours (and hopefully brainspace depending on how hard these gals party). I officially have a team. Jen says, “I’m blonde…so I probably have less than 50% brainspace.” (And FUNNY too!) My vibe is this will work. I’ve tried a lot of different permutations and combinations over the years – but, it was managing other people that the HR department helped bring in. Now, I AM the HR department. I’ve kissed a few frogs, but, I think these are the princesses.

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #5: Emergency Broadcast

Emergency BroadcastThis week I did absolutely nothing to build a million dollar enterprise part time.  Full time, I spent the week in ICU with my mom.  Very, very scary.

I also started thinking, “Why the hell am I doing this blog?” Putting all my stuff out there.  Horrible old boyfriends could be reading this. (If you are a horrible old boyfriend or stalker, please click here and never come back). Considered 86-ing the whole thing. Still considering it.

Trying not to make any major decisions now. More next week (maybe).

 

5.01 pm update

In a sort of paradoxical twist, two of my mom’s ICU nurses are massive Caps fans (Washington Capitals Hockey). The Caps are majority owned by Ted Leonsis, of whom I am a massive fan, and about whom I wrote a “Cool Daddies” case that was just published in a business textbook. I emailed Ted and he arranged for the nurses to meet the team next season. Ted is so cool that way.  So, is this the “sign”? “Don’t give up…keep going with Hot Mommas and Cool Daddies Project. You can’t avoid it…even when your mom is in ICU?” 

Parting thought: Thinking I will probably continue now and that is is fairly wimpy of me to consider anything else.  Hellooo? Am I learning anything from the Hot Mommas I’ve surveyed? Persistence is one of the top 3 traits.

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #4:The Productive Amoeba

This week sucked. I would like to blame all of my problems on Quicken.
I. WHATs WORKING?Lets start on a positive note. Doing my goals is working. I am accomplishing them, mainly due to the fact that they are hovering over me like a school marm tapping her watch. It prevents them from eking out into the abyss of 100%.  Dennis Hightower, former big-time Disney exec, advised “Good general managers must be able to make decisions with between 40 and 70% information.” So, there you go. Lodged firmly in between 40% and 70%, I listed Hot Mommas Project internships online at GWU (George Washington University), talked with a tech guru, forged ahead with my research, all the while taking care of my mom and being totally ill myself (now, having intense love affair with the z-pack).Playdate at Starbucks. Okay, back to work!

 Every blog needs a creepy doll picture.  Here is my loyal non-mammalian business partner (yes, a Starbucks coffee) on a playdate with my daughters doll. Okay, funs over, back to work. 

II. WHATs NOT WORKING.

1. SOMETHING – Its always something. If its not me being sick, its my kids…if its not my kids, its a friend…etc. etc. So, there were a lot of “somethings” this week. Something doesnt seem to be going away.

 2. FAMILY WITHDRAWL – Because of the “somethings” I barely saw my kids and husband this week. Need to do a bit more schedule triage (below). (See first post on schedule triage).

 3. BURN OUT – After many “somethings” and subsequent worrying about “somethings,” I was left with I the brain capacity of an amoeba, except crankier.

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 III. THE PLAN – WHAT DID I ACCOMPLISH?

 A. On the Hot Mommas Project PLAN (and granted, this is very tactical in nature) here is what I wanted to accomplish this past week:

 04/08/09 – Research (idea = research release to correspond with marketing of competition)

·     Accomplished this. On track.

 04/10/08 – Develop intern/staff listings and post.

·     Accomplished this. On track. (Even have first resume in!)

 04/10/08 – Research – Draft report 75% complete.

·     Accomplished this. On track. (This is a crock, however, as the remaining 25% of questions are a complete nightmare to analyze).

 B. This week – What I need to do:

04/17/08 – Conversation with software developer to sketch out scope and costs.

·     Confidence level: High. Need to develop priorities list and get to tech partner on 4/15.

 04/17/08 – Develop budget.

·     Confidence level: medium. Not sure how long it takes tech partner to develop budget. Will let him know about my deadline.

 04/17/08 – Develop sponsorship kit final + target list.

·     Confidence level – high. Can have draft and initial target list, even if budget is not ready.

 04/17/08 – Research – Draft report 100% complete. Submit to GW advisors for comment.

·     Confidence level – low. Have many open ended answers to code and not sure how this is going to happen.

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 IV. SCHEDULE TRIAGE RIDES AGAIN!

 A. The assessment

Hours available to me to work: 29. How I spent these hours:

 

12.5 –  Hot Mommas Project – accomplishing objectives

  6.0 –  Teaching / GW-related stuff

  4.5 – Client work

  6.0 –  Personal (sick/squeezing in time with kids /hubby due to “somethings”).

29.0 – TOTAL

 

Conclusion: An additional 6-8 additional hours will free up this and next week, and maybe another 6 to 8 the week after that. No G*d Knows What time suckers (see original triage post). Good.

 

 B. Going forward – the personal pledge

Personal Pledge to RESTORE BALANCE IN THE FREY UNIVERSE

 

In addition to my Hot Mommas Project goals, this week I promise to:

 

 1. Be outside of the house 1 night only (last week was 4 nights 3 with mom at hospital, one at my forum*).

2. Work out 4x during the week, one time at home or on walk with kids/hubby.

3. Plan 3 fun/nice things (each) for kids and for hubby.

4. Multi-task and work at my moms house now that she is out of hospital.

5. Plan time with my best friend Julie.

 

*Definition of Forum = group of mentors. Meets 1x per month. Amazing. Changed my life. Click here for book on forum (“Forum: The Secret Advantage of Successful Leaders”) by one of the worlds leading forum facilitators, Mo Fathelbab

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V. Inspiration/Resources:

Found this interesting time management site: Mindtools. (This is in no way affiliated with “Mind Head” from the movie Bowfinger with Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin.) I like the approach – specifically adding a “stress diary” to a daily time log. I am not sure what I would actually do once I realize something is stressful, but, is fun to think about nonetheless. The major topics are:

 1. Introduction to time management.

2. Beating procrastination.

3. Activity Logs.

4. Action Plans.

5. Prioritized to do lists.

6. Scheduling skills.

7. Personal goal setting.

 

As pathetic as it may sound, three of the most helpful things Ive been doing to get through my tasks are:

·     NOT LOOKING AT OUTLOOK,

·     NOT LOOKING AT MY BLACKBERRY (a la leaving it in another room), and

·     CLOSING ALL NON-RELEVANT DOCUMENTS ON MY COMPUTER.

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Parting Thoughts:

Things are getting done. This is good. Goals are good. Still have not completed action plan for writing “How to Be a Hot Momma” book. Need to balance a teensy big more prior to getting another plate spinning. Dont want to degenerate back into a cranky amoeba.  What is the #1 trait Hot Mommas (in our survey) are saying has helped them professionally? Perseverance. So, I am marching on.

Thanks – again – to all of you who have posted offering comments and encouragement. Feel free to post your own goals here, too. 

 

 

 

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #3: THE PLAN

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Begin at the beginning: Before sharing my action plan for moving forward, I want to outline the pre-steps that got me to this stage. (Skip to II if not interested in this). As I’ve learned from my students, there is an intense need out there to know about the very, very beginning. Here is the Reader’s Digest version:

Photo: Paging Dr. Pepper. Here I am back in the hospital with my mom, cheating on my business partner.

I. THE PRE-STEPS (Vastly oversimplified for the purposes of brevity)

1998-1999:“Aha” moment re: Hot Mommas Project. Get MBA. Begin to ruminate about idea.

  • 1990-1997 – Leading up to this point: Worker bee/managerial skill building.
  • Theme: Make other people look good.

1999-2001: Hiatus from idea. Working 16 hour days. Managerial/Executive skill building.

  • Theme: Still making other people look good.

2001-2007: Build consulting firm (full time, great $$$, interest level = medium). Hired “Hot Mommas” as consultants.

  • Theme: “Let’s see if I can do this.” Answer = Yes. (Great clients, great consultants, many many zeroes in our revenue line, however, still did not make it more interesting).
  • Did not realize how luxurious my time was. Enter children. Had kid #1 (Maxwell – “Il Capo”).

2003-2008: Teaching (part time, not great $$$, interest level = high). Hot Mommas Project accepted/honored in academia.

  • Theme: “Hmmmm…this is interesting. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”
  • Had kid #2 (Lilah – La Principessa). Lots of umming and uhhing while I get my bearings. Wonder if I just need to give up on my professional goals to a certain extent.

2007: “It” moment:

  • “This is the idea with which to move forward for the Hot Mommas (case study competition…finally, some specificity!” 
  • Still had doubts about my ability to build a kick-ass career part time.
  • Nevertheless, continued with idea development and tested with good advisors.

2008: Kicking Hot Mommas Project into high gear.

  • Cases in a leading entrepreneurship textbook. Lots of amazing and surprising folks and industries interested in project.
  • Theme: “Give up on my professional goals?  If there is way to do this part time, I am going to find it.” Husband on board. Childcare in place. Maybe will fail miserably but have to at least try.

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II. THE PLAN: Here we go….

Side note: Planning is not rocket science. It is a like a fancy to do list. However, it is very easy to mess up if you leave out certain core components. I have not found any planning methodologies specifically for part time people…so – here – I have adapted a planning process my company does with executives and government agencies.

A. VISION: Global Case Study Competition (as mentioned in Post Numero Uno)

1. LONGER TERM GOAL: By end 2009, have built and operationalized a case study database accessible to instructors and consumers with the goal of providing:

Role models on paper for entrepreneurially-minded women.

Provide a free tool which can be easily integrated in the classroom.

Teach key business and personal lessons necessary for success, and substantiated by research.

2. SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES: Create platform for global case study competition, raise money ($ tbd – let’s say $250,000 for now), and develop 25 marketing partnerships prior to the end of 2008. Stretch goal = Launch the case study competition

B. ACTION PLAN – FY 08

Big Tasks: Hire people, find sponsors, develop case study submission tool, market. (Parallel task – finish research – will help to release research with call for case studies).

Pre-steps: Gaining specialized professional experience, consulting with mentors, and developing a research-based approach that makes Hot Mommas Project DIFFERENT. (complete)

Due Date Tasks (cumulative – to be broken down by category – see note below)

03/15/08 – Develop mock up of case study page elements. (complete)

03/15/08 – Develop draft sponsorship document. (complete)

04/04/08 – Create action plan. (complete)

04/08/09 – (!) Research (idea = research release to correspond with marketing of competition)

04/10/08 – * (!)(see note below on symbols) Develop intern/staff listings and post.

04/10/08 – Research – Draft report 75% complete.

04/17/08 – (!)Conversation with software developer to sketch out scope and costs.

04/17/08 – Develop budget.

04/17/08 – Develop sponsorship kit final + target list.

04/17/08 – Research – Draft report 100% complete. Submit to GW advisors for comment.

04/24/08 – Have 1 to 2 interns/staff secured.

04/24/08 – + (!)Round 1: Sponsorship kit to 5 connectors (people who have big networks).

04/29/08 – Research – Revisions.

05/01/08 – Round 2: Sponsorship kit to 5 more connectors.

05/01/08 – Follow up on Round 1 connector contacts.

05/01/08 – Consult with lawyer on legal structure (would like to NOT be a nonprofit).

05/01/08 – Work with GW communications and existing interns on research release plan.

05/10/08 – (!)Back from spa

05/13/08 – Revise sponsorship kit as necessary.

05/13/08 – Follow up on Round 2 connector contacts.

05/13/08 – Intern: Follow up on research release plan.

05/15/08 – Round 3: Follow ups on Rounds 1 & 2, and sponsorship kit Round 3.

05/15/08 – Remaining staff hired.

05/19/08 – Staff training ½ day. Go through assigning of mini objectives & action plans. 05/19/08 – Begin weekly team meetings.

05/20/08 – Begin working with developer on case study submission tool.

05/22/08 – Round 4: Follow ups on Rounds 1, 2, 3 and sponsorship kit Round 4.

05/27/08 – Revise case study submission tool with developer.

05/26/08 – Online mock-up: Submission tool. Feedback provided.

06/01/08 – 1/3 of funding secured. Develop marketing partner list.

06/12/08 – Approach 1/3 of marketing partner list. Consult with Google search specialist.

06/26/08 – Approach second 2/3 of marketing partner list. Consult with Google specialist.

07/10/08 – Approach last 1/3 of marketing partner list. Consult with Google specialist.

08/01/08 – Second 1/3 of funding secured.

08/28/08 – Site complete and Phase 1 testing complete, revisions ordered.

09/01/08 – Last 1/3 of funding secured.

09/10/08 – Site revisions complete. Last tests and fixes.

09/29/08 – Launch Round 1 of competition.

10/20/08 – Launch Round 2 of competition.

12/20/08 – Cases reviewed, tagged, edited.

01/19/09 – Winners announced. Prize money distributed. (!) Winning case studies integrated into textbooks and curricula around the world.

Ongoing roles (allow time for this):

  • Following up with staff on objectives/management. (e.g. weekly team meetings)
  • Meetings with potential sponsors/follow up.
  • Developing/consulting with advisory board.

[[“ Eeeeek” thought I am having: ? Do people really want to see all this? Seems soooooo booooooooring.?! Let me know.]]

NOTES related to plan above:

(!) – This symbol indicates items I’ve worked up to over time. Did not happen overnight. Was a process.

*Side note on staff: If I am part time, I need to hire around my time constraints. Want team of 3-4, one of which is my “go-to” person – takes almost same, for me, to manage 1 person as 3 people. Might as well be team. They will have to come to GW when I am there. Note to self: Talk to MGT Dept about this. The virtual thing does not work with most students for my working style. Have experimented for years. It took me a while in my career to get used to having direct reports.

+ Side note on sponsorship: Based on past sales experiences, my guess is that I am looking at a pipeline between 1 and 6 months to bring in a sponsor. If I don’t have any sponsors after 6 months then something is wrong.

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IV. TIME MANAGEMENT AKA “IS THIS HUMANLY POSSIBLE?”:

Time Management Step: This is a critical step I am calling: “Is this humanly possible?” (Could this be a cool acronym? ITHP – uh, that would be no).

1. Did action plan in excel with following categories: Due date, task, category, status. This allows me to sort the plan by category (marketing, sponsorship, tech, etc.), or by date (as shown above). Sorting by category is especially good for delegating. Note: I fundamentally object to my kids being more organized than I. They are on a schedule and a routine, so I am trying it (e.g., Having certain tasks – talks w/ tech folks – on specific days to add some calm to the chaos.)

2. Copied and pasted a shortcut to the excel plan into bottom of a “Task” in Outlook (insert, file).

3. Dragged the task to each time block I have available, and assigned the time block. Examples:

[Time blocked on calendar: 8-5pm 4/8] 04/08/09 – Research (idea = research release to correspond with marketing of competition)

[Time blocked on calendar: 8-9am 4/8] 04/10/08 – * (!)(see note below) Develop intern/staff listings and post.

[Time blocked on calendar: 9-12am & 4-6pm 4/9 & 1-5pm 4/10] 04/10/08 – Research – Draft report 75% complete.

4. Pimped it out, if you can call it that. At the beginning of each task in “Subject,” I type “HMP” (for “Hot Mommas Project”) followed by the part of the plan I’m supposed to do that day. This allows me to easily search for all HMP entries in my calendar. I will probably wind up adding colors (current view, “define views”), reminders (in “task”), & priorities (in “task”). Also added link to the original document. (Link allows me to click and change the plan).

[[I’m sure there must be some automated program for doing this out there. I am looking into add-ins that are not a major pain in the butt. More later if I find anything good.]]

5. Adjusted Action Plan based on “IS THIS HUMANLY POSSIBLE” dragging and dropping of tasks into my calendar. I wound up bumping my action plan due dates up or down based on actual time I had available on my calendar. It will change more. This is a start.

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IV. INSPIRATION/RESOURCES:

A. Current theme song for this blog: “Everybody’s Got Their Something” by Nikka Costa. (Click music samples on left side of page at this link http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Their-Something-Nikka-Costa/dp/B00005B0S6)

B. Zero to $1 Billion: This article talks about David Thomson’s 7 traits of companies that went from zero to a billion. These companies are called “Blueprint companies.” One million dollars doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re reading about billion dollar businesses. So, that’s what I did. Link: Article. Link: Zero to $1 Billion Scorecard.

Summary of the 7 Zero to $1 Billion traits:

1. Create a killer value proposition/idea.

2. Operate in a market big enough for you to grow. Most blueprint companies operate in markets large enough to accommodate several billion dollar business.

3. Marquee customer – Attracted in early days. High profile opens doors to new markets. Willing to innovate with you. Seems like a mentor/client or partner/client…you’re on a journey together.

4. Inside-Outside arrangement – Hire a second-in-command who can take care of the day-to-day while you think big picture.

5. Big Brother Alliance – In early days, for credibility

6. Manage for positive cash flow from the start. Early growth finance – from operations.

7. Extraordinary value from boards – Expert CEOs and advisors with contacts

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V. Parting Thought: Doing the action plan is a bit of a mind-bender, exercise in b.s., and a reality check all at the same time. Dragging it to the calendar MAKES IT REAL. I’m sure something will blow up in my face here, but, it feels good to tell myself that things are somehow nice and neat and organized here (pointing to computer) even if they are not nice and neat and organized here (pointing to head). I would like to think of this as my roadmap to success.

Thanks to all for the support and encouragement so far. You all are my coaches. Next step, does the book even fit here? That is the next action plan.

Building a Million Dollar Business_The Art of the Start

Here…today….it begins: The journey to build a million-dollar enterprise.  My business partner and meThis is a beta blog chronicling the growth of ‘The Hot Mommas Project’ – a women’s leadership endeavor focused on helping women to balance it all.  Click here for main blog.

Pictured left – My non-mammalian, yet very helpful, business partner and I give each other a peptalk in my office at The George Washington University School of Business, Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence: “We can do this.” Continue reading