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Many associate startup with spontaneity and a can-do attitude, but not as much with project management. This is not terribly surprising. With the overwhelming burden of starting a business and all of the costs and decisions that go into it, project management can often fall to the bottom of the list. However, entrepreneurs embarking on a new business adventure should take time to explore the benefits of this resource to monitor and maintain their team’s productivity.
There are many uncertainties surrounding startups, and the only sure thing is often a lack of time and money. A startup can be a risky business, but employing project management tactics can help startups mitigate these risks and grow into successful businesses.
Finding the right project management methods often depends on the individual startups, their size and also the industry. Even if a startup does not have many customers and employees, project management tactics are key in maintaining a successful workflow. Some methods may seem obvious and others not so much, but having a strong PM strategy in place can bring more order and efficiency into the critical early days of a company’s development.
Here are some steps entrepreneurs can take to help their new endeavour thrive:
1. Set realistic goals
Being an entrepreneur is all about being proactive and spontaneous, right? Wrong.
It is a common misconception that startups begin on a whim. While passion and enthusiasm are integral to success, a business cannot survive on these traits alone. Business owners need to have a clear idea of what their goals are. For a startup selling a product or service, having a recognisable brand from the very beginning is important and it will set you apart from the competition.
2. Make a plan
After developing goals, entrepreneurs need to create a plan on how to achieve them. Do not underestimate the importance of planning. The project plan needs to state the goals and objectives clearly, but also the resources needed to reach them.
Start by making a list of all the tasks that you have to do. Then, break down each into smaller, more manageable ones so that you won’t be too stressed out by having to do too many things at once. Project management methods can help to prioritise tasks, allowing you to focus on the most essential duties.
3. Set scope, budget and time
In addition to developing the project scope, a product scope also needs to be decided on. What features will your product have? If you have a clear idea of these two things, you can set a timeframe and budget to deliver them.
Time is an essential aspect for a startup as it is vital to get your product or service out into the world as to quickly gain as much market share as possible and beat out the competition. The startup cycle moves rapidly so if your project takes too much time, you might miss the window of opportunity to put your product out there.
Something like Gantt charts can aid in planning the duration of your tasks and adjusting your progress in real-time for more accurate estimates.
4. Ensure quality
While it is important to get your product or service out as soon as possible, do not neglect the quality. A good reputation is important for any business, but it is particularly important for a startup. The best way to build a good reputation is to offer your customers high quality products and services. Or at least the highest quality possible that is within your budget.
Getting your name out there through organic promotion, such as word-of-mouth, is invaluable for a startup. It will help you get new customers and in turn attract more funding. Use this funding wisely to provide your customers with products and services that they want or never knew they needed. If a product does not deliver, work on raising its standard instead of ignoring it and assuming that it will be resolve on its own.
You can use the Scrum method, for example, to assess whether your product deliverables are up to standard or not.
5. Choose your team
One of the biggest risk factors in a startup are its human resources. Having the right team with the necessary skills set is vital.
A person could be great at developing new products, but could be terrible at planning a project or managing clients. This is why it is important to assign the right jobs to the right people. This can also help provide a checks and balances system that will help you make better decisions that factor in all aspects of the project.
Make an effort to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team. By doing so, you can set realistic goals and deadlines that your team members can finish on time and deliver a quality product. Assign manageable tasks that can be finished without delay as it will keep the team motivated when they reach a milestone. A motivated team that is passionate and enthusiastic about their work is as important to a startup’s success as having a great product.