Unfortunately, most startups have limited experience with the nuances of project management. Fortunately, the more you know the less potential you have for slipping into mistakes that could cost you thousands of dollars in lost time, energy and resources.
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from project management professionals whose industry expertise has helped to grow unknown startups into the largest companies in the world.
So if you’re just starting up or looking for ways to refresh a small business that has plateaued, here are a few project management tips to keep in mind.
1. Plan Ahead
An hour worth of planning is worth ten hours of doing.
If you strategically and methodically plan what you are going to accomplish, then the back-end of your project will run so much more smoothly. You will also find that planning ahead saves time — more than you may think. The business reality is — saving time, especially during early-stage startup days, is a competitive advantage.
Planning ahead also helps you to stay on task and focus on the things that matter most.
2. Start Early
The sooner you begin, the more quickly you will progress.
Procrastination is a large obstacle to entrepreneurial success. I have heard countless, well-meaning, would-be entrepreneurs say they would love to start their own business, but a lack of motivation or fear hampers their ability to begin.
Instead of starting small and working their way to the phase or project, they fail to do anything at all. In short, they opt for a “safe” 9 to 5 job, clock-in and clock out at the end of the day. If you are truly passionate about being your own boss, you will start right away on the idea you feel could gain the most traction in a timely manner.
3. Be Approachable
Too often entrepreneurs have egos they themselves have difficulty fitting into.
It can cause alienation between a leader and their team or co-founders. Being unapproachable in business is a liability for a few reasons. First, it undermines communication which is absolutely essential for any team to succeed, let alone a fledgling startup. Second, it can inadvertently cause friction between team members. Unity is essential for smooth processes and quality outcomes. Finally, approachability means good ideas will be more rapidly shared and implemented. While that may not mean automatic success, it does help to spur iteration more rapidly.
4. Oust Trouble Makers
Problematic members of any team can squash the success of a project in no time flat — especially in the startup world.
Early-stage startups generally have a couple of members. If one person on your team doesn’t pull their, weight, ensues irreconcilable problems with other team members or prove difficult to work with, it’s best to get rid of them quickly rather than drag out the process.
Compare it to a band-aid. If you tear it off slowly, it hurts more and causes more damage. Rip it off and move on. You can’t afford to have people on your team that will undermine your success. Things can unravel quickly. Take care of business and move on.
5. Stay Focused
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs tend to see everything as an opportunity and they thus can have a difficult time working on a single project that may get legs and eventually take off. For those who have this problem, project management software can help to keep you focus on the most important steps within the process.
It’s important to remember that your goal is the ultimate end and that other ancillary ideas should be shelved until it comes time to exit or shift to the next iteration of your project. Focus can be difficult, but to succeed it is absolutely essential.