Earlier this year, my company VerticalResponse signed on as the lead sponsor for StartupNation's "Leading Moms in Business" competition, because let's face it, being a woman in business presents its own hurdles. Hence this column. Add kids, and there's a whole host of other challenges women face. So, hats off to the 200 women selected — and Happy Mother's Day!

According to the Center for Women's Business Research, there are 10.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States generating $2.5 trillion in annual revenue. With women starting businesses at nearly twice the rate of men, it's no surprise that mothers make up the fastest-growing segment of new business owners.

Many of these amazing companies were formed by moms who were looking for ways to supplement their family income while still having time to be at home with the kids. Think "Avon calling," or a great VerticalResponse customer, Dream Dinners. What is so cool about StartupNation's list is how many of the women on it have figured out how to juggle running a successful business with everything else. A lot of the winning businesses wouldn't have been possible before the Internet era — and it's great to see so many women taking advantage of the resources available to them to pursue a passion, better their lives, and generally kick entrepreneurial ass.

As a small business owner, I know work/life balance sometimes seems like a sick joke - or an impossible goal — but there are a lot of ways that technology helps. When I'm reviewing financial reports on the porch of my house in Tahoe with my husband, or taking a call with an on-deadline journalist while in a cab from JFK, I'm super thankful for the technology that makes it possible. These Leading Moms in Business are an inspiration, taking great ideas or solving their own daily problems and making them into viable businesses.

One of the main reasons I blog, here and on my own site, is so people can learn from my mistakes and experiences. Starting a business is scary — and running one is hard — but the Web is rich with free resources to help you along the way. Take advantage. Right now is a great time to read about these women, learn from their stories, and take the first steps necessary to go from having a great idea to starting a business — and make your mama proud.