Making your To Do List your DONE! list
As an entrepreneur, you are always taking on new projects. Whether you do this intentionally, like when you're getting ready to launch a new product - or if your small project is turning into a larger undertaking; one of the many hats you will be wearing is that of project manager.
Ideally, your tasks will drive the completion of your projects, and your projects are aligned to your business goals, so ticking off tasks from your to-do list should not be taken lightly. However, too often entrepreneurs try to do everything at once - leading to stress, burnout and a long list of unreached goals (and we've all been there).
To help you avoid these small-business nightmares, here are our top five #projectmanagement tips to get you from "to-do" to "DONE!".
1. Define the project
Let’s start by defining what a project is. If it requires more than three steps, it’s a project. Implementing new software? That’s a project. Expanding your network? You bet that’s a project!
Regardless of the size and scope, defining what a project is for you, should be the first step. Make a list of all the 'projects' you are currently working on and another with all the projects you’d like to work on. Take a deep breath and don’t worry if you end up with 10 - 20 projects.
Remember that the tasks for each of these will differ in difficulty and time, and writing them down makes everything seem less overwhelming.
Now that you have your first project list, focus on two to five projects that will feed into your business goals.
2. Set timings to your projects
This step is crucial. Too often, we procrastinate and by the time we want to launch our summer collection, it’s winter!
Start and end dates will allow you to plan around business cycles and seasons and prevent projects from going on for much longer than they should.
3. Make a one-page plan
If there is one thing the Vital & Vitality team understand, it is that entrepreneurs have very limited time. But a little planning can go a long way.
To get started, answer the below questions while enjoying your morning coffee. Keeping it to one page is essential, so keep your answers short & concise - if you have to over-explain and justify, maybe it’s not the right time or the right project to focus on.
Why is this project being undertaken?
Is there a clear business case for this project?
Do I have enough funds to execute this project?
Do I have clear picture in mind of the outcome of this project?
Can I identify the success factors and milestones?
Is the project aligned with my organizational goals?
Has the project clear roles and responsibilities or am I the only one responsible?
4. Leverage outside relationships
Speaking of roles & responsibilities, it can be really valuable to outsource some tasks and projects to external sources.
Accepting that you're probably not an expert in all the areas of your business can be immensely liberating and help you reassess the relationships you’ve built with vendors, financial partners and freelance contractors.
Call on them to help bring the project to completion. Finding reliable partners and nurturing these relationships are often vital for small business growth and profitability.
5. Know if & when to quit
This will most probably be the most difficult step, especially if you rely only on yourself to validate all your business decisions (uhm, hello! Vitality can help with that!). It’s certainly not easy if you’ve already invested a lot of time, and energy.
Yes, it’s always best to finish what you’ve started, but if you find your project is dragging, consider the below questions before you call it quits:
Is the goal of this project still important?
What was the planned ROI for this project?
What is the ROI now?
Could I better achieve my goals by spending this time on other projects?
What is the emotional toll of continuing with this project?
Bonus! Learn the lessons
Whether your project is a success or not, use every project as an opportunity to learn and do better in the future or on your next project.
Take some time after completion of every project to assess what went well, and what went wrong. Try to understand the "why" of both the successes and failures and use them in planning future endeavours.
It’s easy to get caught up the tasks of running a business when you are a solopreneur or running a small team. While large corporations have teams of project managers to ensure successful execution of their projects, small business should also plan and execute any sized initiative.
Try using these easy tips to make all of your small business projects go more smoothly and accomplish your business goals. And if all else fails, chat to the Vitality team for a little extra support and to give you that kick to get started.
Special Projects Manager | Vital & Vitality