Last Update – December 11, 2014
We set goals. We formulate plans. Now…what happens next?
At this juncture many small business owners find themselves at the crossroads; the whiteboard moment where the clarity of an idea and the confusion of methods meet. Once you have set goals and determined plans, how do you actually make traction on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
After thoughtful consideration I realized the one thing that has turned many of my ideas into tangible realities. It is a skill that comes naturally to some and is quite foreign to others — project management.
What Goal Setting Guru’s Forget
But interestingly enough, many ‘goal-setting guru’s’ fail to identify and elaborate on this extremely important step. Instead they assert vague thoughts without translating them into application-based teachings that have the power to yield results. We have all heard our share of folks talk about defining a lofty vision, etching out your company mission in stone and reading self-affirming mantras in the mirror each morning. Don’t get me wrong — all of these things can be beneficial.
However, you can wake each morning with affirmations on your mind and good intentions in your heart, but without consistent and focused project management – nothing will get done and profits will elude you. A lack of project management focus and skill is why you may find that after 365 days — 8,765.81 hours or 525,949 minutes — you never actually accomplished what you had hoped for in your business. The good news is — all of that is about to change.
Benefits of Project Management
Project management is the cornerstone of achievement. In its basic form, project management is: the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. It is designed to put constraints on your idea, give it “wheels” and propel your vision forward.
This means that at the spark of an idea, you must discipline yourself to define your strategy (method and plans) and execute on tactics — non-stop until completion. For example, your next business “project” should employ three things:
1. A defined start and end date.
I realize that it is often scary to put an expiration date on your ideas. But the reality is that the shelf-life of your idea can expire. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to make progress.
2. A list of organized objectives and tactics.
Decide what steps you need to take to build your idea into something tangible. If you are unsure, this is where research and development (R&D) should be employed. If research is not your “cup of tea” rely on savvy interns or hire a project manager or coordinator to facilitate this important step. Your goal is to avoid “recreating the wheel” and devise actionable steps that will produce results.
For example, “Create simple objectives for projects, and revisit them regularly. When working on in-depth projects, we generate lots of new ideas along the way. This can lead to a gradual expansion of the project’s goals, or “scope creep.” This insidious habit can make it impossible to ever really complete anything. The best way to avoid it is to write down a simple statement summarizing your objective at the start of each project. When scope creep starts to happen, you’ll notice.”
3. A method of measurement.
Ensure your milestones are reached by tracking daily progress. Utilize project management tools such as Asana, Team Gantt, and Google Hangouts to facilitate task management, scheduling and collaboration.
Project Management, Productivity and Performance
Whether you are a seed, early-stage startup, or growth company we all yearn for more productivity. Project management — the art of getting things done — fuels this basic business need. Project management can bring clarity to chaos, eliminate distractions, develop routine, increase motivation, “pool talent,” maximize learning and training, and improve time management. All of these benefits are closely correlated to your productivity.
The more adept you become to managing the details and increasing productivity — the better you will perform. And the reality is: performance — your execution and accomplishment of a task at hand — will always trump an idea.
How to Turn Business Goals into Reality
Now that we have identified the most common culprit of ideas unfulfilled, we can work smarter and turn goals into tangible results.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed smart people sit on an idea for years. When confronted with the need to turn their vision into a reality they adamantly confess, “I am not sure where to begin?!” Start with the mindset of a project manager.
Your challenge is to identify goals, acknowledge your current state and map out a desirable one that ends in accomplishment. Acquire new knowledge, plan, execute and track your progress with an end in mind. To get started, take a look at these free project management templates and online project management tools such as Trello, GanttProject, and Collabtive.
Has project management helped you to meet your business goals? Let me know in the comments section below.
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