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 Part Time #2: Triage

I spent two nights at the hospital this week with my mom who is getting a bionic  knee.  Triage in the literal sense there. In the figurative sense, my schedule and prioritization process needs major help.  Plate clearing MUST happen NOW for me to be able to act on the plans below.  Otherwise, I’m just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

 

Pictured here is my daughter Delilah (aka Lilah) at my mom’s house where I am playing nurse.  She is under the Jim Jones-like trance of “Cory in the House.”

 

 

 

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I. SCHEDULE TRIAGE:

 

Why is my plan (to which I committed in the last post) not complete already? This is not a great start folks. I was busy doing the following instead of my plan: Playing nurse, playing mom, other people’s work (client projects), and teaching. There’s always some reason, right? Here is how my week went with 28 hours available to me to work:

 

12 hrs- Other people’s projects

 6 hrs – Hot Mommas Project

 6 hrs – Teaching

 1 hr  – Alzheimer’s Association board call.

 3 hrs – G*d knows what – I logged my hours, distractions, and accomplishments one day when I was working at home. Here is an excerpt:

 

“It is now 11.03. I am supposed to be doing my client work. Instead, I have done the following:

  • Printed the outline for the client work – good. On task.
  • Started cleaning my email in-box – bad.
  • Respond to an email from our lawyer – bad.
  • Look at a text from my best friend right under the email from our lawyer – bad.
  • Installed the latest version of Quicken – okay, this is getting ridiculous.”

There is a management crisis in America today outlined in a book called A Bias to Action by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal.  Apparently, many, many, many workers out there are confusing effort with results. I definitely think I am contributing to this management crisis right now. Time to overhaul my schedule:

 

1. G*d knows what time – don’t have this to spare.

Action: Log time and be accountable through this log.  Reel yourself back in woman. Don’t give into the time-sucker tasks. It’s like task crack.

Time gain: 3 hours.

 

2. Teaching

Action: This will go away in a couple of weeks when the semester is over.

Time gain: 6 hours.

 

3. Other people’s work

Action: No other projects until I magically develop more time.

Time gain: 12 hours!

 

4. Alzheimer’s Association

Action: None. I am the chair of the management committee and like to stay tied to the aging community so am not giving this up.

Time gain: 0 (but, is not every week, so – can use this hour for some “ongoing roles” in plan).

 

NET NET: I will gain back 21 hours per week.

 

Parting Thoughts: Holy moly. No wonder I haven’t been getting anything done.