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