Project Management for Startups and Entrepreneurs: A Quick Guide

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Written by Paul Gordon at 720 Digital

Project management can seem too restrictive to many entrepreneurs. Where startups and entrepreneurs are busy breaking rules, project management simply offers more rules that need to be followed.

Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as saying that Facebook aims to “move fast and break things”. This would seem completely at odds with the principles of project management. However, if you want to implement time-saving processes from the beginning, project management principles offer a great way to achieve this.

If you want to focus your team and build a sustainable framework for operations, an agilepm practitioner course could give you all the skills you need to achieve this. Read on to discover how the strict confines of project management can actually be liberating for your startup.

It all starts with vision

Project management can’t help you if you don’t have a firm grasp of what you want to achieve. Perhaps you’re starting with a simple problem you want to solve. By defining your vision, you can focus your limited resources and stop your team from wasting time on things that won’t propel you forward. No matter what stage you are at in your business life cycle, whether you want to launch something new or grow your current offering, project management can help.

Start planning, but stay flexible

Once you’ve defined your problem, you can start making a plan as to how you can fix it. The plan should be a roadmap, but it shouldn’t be the only route you can take. Don’t feel shackled to your plan just because it’s “the plan”. Instead, you should make a plan based on the best information available to you now. If this changes in the future, you should be prepared to adapt.

This is a key principle of project management that many people misunderstand. Project management isn’t about sticking to rigid outlines, it’s about keeping the project moving forward, despite roadblocks. This is why it can be hugely beneficial for entrepreneurs and startups.

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Execute the project

Now that you have a roadmap in place, it’s time to put your ideas to work. With project management principles in play, every person on your team will know exactly what is required of them. This prevents micromanagement and gives everyone the space and freedom to do their best work.

By paying close attention to the plans, no steps are skipped and it’s always clear why each step is required. A common reason that new ideas fail is that they are executed poorly. If you want your startup or product to pass the test, putting project management to work can help to keep everyone on track and accountable.

No wasted time

As a startup, resources are likely to be limited. If everyone is carving their own path and setting their own goals, these precious resources are inevitably wasted. By defining the scope of the project, you can ensure that only the features that need to be designed are actually designed. This stops individuals from forging their own path and straying from the pack.

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Monitor results

Milestones are essential for a successful startup or entrepreneur. Milestones keep everything on track and give positive feedback to your team that they are progressing. In project management, everything is developed in terms of milestones. The project can’t progress until certain milestones have been reached. By defining your KPIs at the beginning, everyone remains accountable for their work. A project dashboard adds transparency to the process and ensures everyone is aware of the progress.

Know when to pivot

Project management isn’t as rigid as most people think. Knowing when to pivot to a new method is actually a key part of the process. Pushing forward with a project that isn’t working is not only bad for your business or startup, but it’s also bad for team morale. It can be hard to accept that an idea isn’t working, but learning when to pivot your plan in a new direction is an essential part of project management.

Pivots don’t happen on a whim. There are processes in place that will trigger a pivot. So if you repeatedly fail to meet a milestone, or if user testing reveals that your idea isn’t working, then it’s time to change direction. Learning to manage roadblocks is a great way to ensure future projects can operate more smoothly.

Document the process

If you want to learn from past mistakes, documenting your projects is essential. If you wait until the end of the project, you’re going to struggle to document things effectively. Or you might decide to avoid documenting it all together. With project management, documentation processes are built in. By the end of the project, you have a complete time capsule of everything that happens throughout the project. This can easily be put to use planning future projects. You’ll know where your team’s strengths lie, how long it takes to get stuff done, and even where you’re lacking skills. Use this document to kick start future projects with ease.