Project Management for Micro Businesses

What a great session I had with fellow members of the Business Network in Wakefield last week. How fantastic when people come up to you at the end and say that you have made them sit up and think – or“what a great idea I will give it a try”, or “just that one little idea will make a real difference”, or “I hadn’t thought about it like that…but I will from now on”

Those of you out there who, like me, are working as sole traders or running micro businesses, will all have experienced the issues we talked about.

Like:

“How do I prioritise business improvement work when it is my idea, my deadline, my target, my business need?”

And the answer is:

All too often – you don’t! The customer demands or those of the bank or the Inland Revenue come first, and your great ideas for driving the business forward remain just that – ideas.

But how on earth can project management help?

Isn’t project management only for people building bridges and Olympic stadiums?

No it absolutely is not (I want to scream from the rooftops!)

Of course project management methods have sprung out of the world of large and complex projects because that is where the structure they impose can make a difference which can save millions, but that does not mean that some of the ideas hidden amongst the bureaucracy cannot be used by us small fry.

But how do we find these ideas when faced with the overwhelming full blown set of tools and jargon – it is a bit like searching for a couple of shiny needles in a very large haystack.

So let me help with just one gem which is so simple it is alarming.

Have a look at your task list for this week or this month. Are there any tasks which have been lurking on it for a while? Are there any tasks on it which you know are doomed to never get done?

Here are few reasons why those tasks might be there forever…

Too vague, too overwhelming, or maybe they just don’t include a “doing” word. Do you remember your primary school teachers talking about “doing” words? They are the words which relate to the action to be done.

Here is an example of what I mean:

On my task list I might write:

  • Marketing

But what does that actually mean? What about marketing? Marketing is huge and ongoing – so if I started that task I would potentially never finish it and there are so many more pressing issues for a sole trader. So it gets skipped over for the other clearer more manageable tasks which have deadlines imposed by others.

How about this instead, to get you started:

  • Write a list of marketing ideas

Now that is more like it. I love tasks like that – it gives me an excuse to put the kettle on, dig out my creative book and a pencil – I might even treat myself to a chocolate biscuit. And it is a task to which I can allot a set amount of time.

At the end of the task I will know I have completed it and can tick it off the list. I will have moved forward in my business development and I will have created a number of other tasks, which will be similarly clear, concise and action packed.

And what is even better I can call myself a professional project manager because I have clearly defined my project and have started to carry out a work breakdown exercise. (See The Magic of Action Planning for the next steps to take).

If you are running a micro business and want some help in getting going with your business ideas you could give me a call for a chat – 07976 395754