In 2017 Money Month, achieved its original goal of bringing the Phoenix community together to talk about money while obtaining at least 100 responses to the AZ WBO survey. Money Month 2.0 had an even larger goal. We wanted to take the direct feedback from the research and use the key values of collaboration, innovation and community to build something even stronger.
The objective for Money Month 2.0 was clear: continue the money conversation while providing resources that allowed participants to take action in their businesses.
Starting in November of 2017, a group of women business owners, community partners and money experts worked to develop a program that would achieve that objective. The committee quickly identified that Money Month 2.0 needed an innovative format that would push our community out of its comfort zone. The survey revealed that most women business owners did not find value in the general workshop format that most of the experts in our community had become accustomed to delivering. In addition, the committee wanted to increase access to Money Month to all Valley entrepreneurs by expanding to diverse locations. The committee chose to create a single core curriculum, to ensure that participants at every location across the Valley would receive a similar shared experience, give participants a common language and encourage business owners to build their own “micro communities” within each region.. Finally, a core curriculum would force money experts to work collaboratively and learning from each other to leverage local best practices while developing stronger content that can be easily applied by each participant to their own businesses.
Test of Money Month 2.0
- A core Money curriculum would increase
- A consistent, easy to access Money Month experience across the valley
- Stronger content using collaboration
- Interactive content that would be more valuable to women business owners
In order to achieve this momentous task, we quickly had to expand the team. Stephanie Sims, stepped up as the chairwoman leading the charge. In addition to lending her expertise to the creation of the core curriculum, she executed all of the sponsorship outreach, secured a fiscal sponsor, coordinator committees, recruited regional coordinators, created tools, and reviewed marketing content….and the list goes on and on.
The regional coordinators not only tackled all of the logistics by identifying locations, food, speakers, and table leaders, but they also supported local outreach and ensured that each weekly event ran smoothly.
The curriculum committee included diverse volunteers who identified the main themes for the content based off the research findings, created learning objectives, coordinated the development of the content with speakers and created the slide decks, activities and key concepts for each week.
Community volunteers also stepped forward to execute all of the marketing. That includes PCP campaigns, extensive email campaigns, social media posts, blogs, media outreach and more.
This year, we once again worked with the amazing team at National Bank of Arizona as our Powered By sponsor. However “sponsor” doesn’t seem to properly describe all that this team did for Money Month 2.0. This year, they stepped up to provide all of our graphic design, attended committee meetings, helped coordinate a region, provided the venue, food and more for the kick off, plus, much much more. Then to top it off several business bankers attended sessions, participating in several of the group discussion and adding their perspective as bankers.
We also had additional sponsors join our effort this year. Sponsors who understood our vision and who are committed to growing diverse entrepreneurs.
As you can see Money Month 2.0 was a huge endeavor. This list is in no way comprehensive! However we wanted to show the depth of community involvement and ACTION that has been taken.
After months of meetings, discussion and review, the core curriculum was created, reviewed by a larger group of speakers, volunteers and community members and ready to go. We held multiple days of training for speakers and table leaders, to ensure that everyone was comfortable delivering and assisting participants in applying the new content.
To ensure that the content could be applied by each participant, we also expanded the facilitation skills of volunteers and experts across the Valley. Nothing forges stronger connections across organizations than leaders taking committed action together.
Throughout this process, we had some difficult discussions. We pushed people out of their comfort zone. We required speakers to really test their willingness to facilitate versus speak.
We asked that people let go of their ideas of perfect content, in order to ensure consistency, practical applications and actionability across the Valley.
We stood firm in our commitment to this event being about the development of our community and that our strength true comes in numbers, not the advancement or expertise of any single entity.
Money Month 2.0 launched with a bang. Our SOLD OUT kick-off brought together over 100 Valley leaders. Paul Singh with Results Junkies brought their North American Tech Tour to town and spoke about entrepreneurialism and the value of diversity in tech investing. His comments where refreshing, insightful and authentic.
The Results Junkies North American Tech Tour joined Money Month 2.0 for three action-packed days of events on September 5-7th. In addition to founder Paul Singh’s awesome key-note at the kick-off, the tech tour:
- Spoke with local investors about innovative ways to get more entrepreneurs funded
- Worked directly with entrepreneurs during office hours across the Valley
- Shared wisdom and brought ASU student together with the Startup Grind community at a fireside chat, and
- Facilitated a discussion among 25 community partners on taking the Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level.
The Tech Tour brought best practices gleaned from over 120 other cities they’ve visited, as well as a fresh perspective on the Valley’s strengths and challenges. Most importantly, this visit served as a catalyst for diverse communities to join the conversation!
From there, we launched into 4 weekly sessions in locations across the Valley.
We had 45 women business owners sign up for the full month’s pass of sessions. Our monthly pass holders were joined by people interested in individual sessions, table leaders, community partners, money experts and more.
From the beginning, we knew we wanted to focus on smaller groups with bigger impact. However, our weekly turn-out was lower than we had hoped. Despite the efforts of our volunteers and our investment in marketing, we couldn’t help but be disappointed that we didn’t reach more business owners.
We know that several factors contributed to the final turn out at individual session being lower than our original goals:
- Our attempt to increase access by having various times and multiple locations probably increased confusion.
- A month is as a major time commitment and we are still refining our target audience and messaging. Multiple locations simply resulted in smaller groups, when you add all of the total headcount for them month we served well over 200 business owners.
- Finally, we recognize that a piece of why we need Money Month is because there is still a stigma around money. Our largest turnout was during the week about finding outside capital, with the lowest during the week on making financial decisions.
- Post surveys and feedback showed that speakers and participates still focused on general issues like “mindset” and action steps like “celebrating wins”. Comments like “I am just not a money person” were common and there where more than a few more tense moments when the conversations shifted to questions of profit and creating a business model that is based on market demand.
But we had the conversations. As a community we supported each other. We learned a lot and are excited to stay true to our innovative values and develop a new iteration next year.But before we do, we have to say thank you to everyone involved and celebrate our win.
Money Month 2.0 was our community taking action on a critical issue: money. Together we achieved more than any one business, group or community partner could have achieved individually. We took a proactive role in creating the Phoenix entrepreneurial ecosystem we want. We were committed to creating something that was innovative, valuable to business owners and reflective of the latest research and data. We listened, supported each other when life happened and stood firm in our core values.
They say it is all about the journey. And while Money Month was designed to serve business owners, it was also an exercise in working together as a community. An exercise that I am proud to say shows our true $trength in Number$.
We are already discussing Money Month 3.0. We don’t know what it will look like. (Isn’t being an entrepreneur great?) but if you are committed to strengthen the economic future of PhXX, now is the time to step up. Take action. Volunteer to be part of Money Month 3.0 by emailing Stephanie Sims NOW. Because everything you just read about was executed by volunteers, business owners, community members, people leaders like you.