Entrepreneurs are driven, energetic, imaginative and
committed. Which, coincidentally, are also traits shared by great project
managers. Launching a business isn’t all the different from launching a project
and much of the advice applicable to project managers can also benefit budding entrepreneurs.
With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to help you successfully apply project management principles to any entrepreneurial enterprise:
If you’re working with a small startup, chances are you’re either going to need to be your own project manager, or will need to designate at least one team member as a dedicated project manager.
It sounds like a deceptively easy role, but correct project governance is demanding, and often difficulty. Project managers need to rely not only on their soft skills but on method-specific training to ensure the success of a project.
Project management training will teach novice project managers everything from planning a project to eliciting customer requirements and necessary documentation procedures.
Suffice to say, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage without adequate training. It’s not an easy choice to make as you’ll first need to determine which of the many project management methodologies best suits your business needs.
If you need a little help, why not look at some of the project management courses that are available on today’s market and get a feel for what might be the best solution for you.
Know your goals
It goes without saying that most entrepreneurial enterprises are created with the express purpose of exploiting a perceived gap in the consumer market. While your overall business goals may be fairly obvious to all involved, it pays to stop at each phase of project development to ensure that your product or service meets not only consumer demands, but also business goals.
There are many ways in which business can turn a profit in today’s markets but always remember that in committing time and resources to one project, you efficiently remove you capacity to pursue any other course of action for a set period of time. So, always consider how alternative ideas might better meet business goals.
Always solicit feedback
When initiating a project, always consider who you should seek feedback from in order to better the project or service being delivered. You’d be surprised how many projects fail due to being developed in an information vacuum.
Projects can be developed for several audiences including staff, customers or stakeholders, but no project can be developed to fulfill everyone’s needs simultaneously. Always define to developers who the project is catering to and who the primary consumer will be. Once identified, make sure to solicit feedback from the relevant party at several times during project development to make sure that what is being made meets the demands of the end-user.
Plan for failure
Projects rarely go to plan. There are simply too many variables in involved in even the simplest projects. During the project planning phase, you’ll need to conduct comprehensive risk assessments and create a robust contingency plan to fall back on when things go south.
The benefit of doing this is pretty plain to see but an unintended side-effect of conducting risk assessments is the chance to stumble upon previously unseen opportunities. While looking for all the ways a project might fail, you might just find a way to drastically increase the profitability of a project, so don’t skimp on your research and make sure to investigate every possible avenue of inquiry before initiating a project.
The good news is, most contemporary project management methodologies have fail-safes built into their project governance framework that can help reduce the chance of error or project failure. These might come in the form of daily meetings, or like PRINCE2, might involve more detailed procedures such as regular, targeted risk-assessments and documentation.
Learn from success
We don’t mean learning from your own success. It goes without saying that you should keep a playbook of successful strategies to refer to on later projects.
What you really should be doing is learning from the success of others, then internalizing these strategies and incorporating them into your own business practices.
The best way to do this is to follow the best-practices used by organizations around the world that they employ on a daily basis to ensure their own success.
Every project management methodology used today is based, in some shape or form, on these aforementioned best-practices and while each industry will have its own unique play on these, there are some very general practices than you can and should employ in your own work environment if you want to succeed.
To get a taste of how these guiding principles can positively shape your enterprises development cycle, take a look at some commonly used PRINCE2 principles.