Despite people’s differences and perspectives, small business owners far and wide have one commonality—their hunger for delivering value. After all, delivering value in your work translates to the broader scheme of business growth.
Small business owners might think to themselves “Maybe one day, my small business won’t be so small”. These thoughts (which later translates to goals through actionable items) are what keeps them up at night and gets them through their day-to-day. As concrete as your goal of “my business will become a multi-million business” may sound when you initially write it down, the pathway to success is usually unclear.
Here’s how you can use a project-based approach to continuously deliver value to your clients and your small business.
Weed Out Projects to Spend Time On Critical Ones
As your small business is ramping up, it’s far too easy to say “yes” to just about every project or opportunity you’re given. It’s also easy to get caught up in achieving only the day-to-day, until you’ve forgotten the bigger picture of why you started your business in the first place. Neither of these situations will create sustainable growth.
Start taking intentional steps by crafting a list of the different project options available to you. Now it’s important to carefully example each project using three items:
- How important is this project to my small business?
- How feasible is this project?
- If I don’t take on this project, what are the risks or consequences (if any)?
Once you’re done prioritizing your projects, it should become clear. Projects that are most feasible, most important, and have the greatest risks if they are not done are the projects that you should focus on.
Understand by Crafting Achievable Business Objectives
Understanding how the project will deliver value to your organization is critical—particularly when you want it to align with your overall business goals. This process can take many iterations, but the efforts aren’t wasted—it’s necessary to achieve your business objectives. Try statements like:
- I am undertaking this project to achieve x and to avoid risk y.
- I am undertaking this project because if we don’t, then this consequence will occur.
- I am undertaking this project to improve this part of my business, in order for me to undertake z.
Crafting business-specific objectives will help you measure success in the short and long term. It helps create a baseline for you to compare results over time.
Plan to Compare Results and Exceed Expectations
When projects start piling in, it’s tempting to jump right in and do the work whilst forgetting the objectives you crafted in the previous stage. At times, creating a plan seems like a waste of time. However, this is wrong.
The reality is, a plan creates a baseline including key data, that you can use to later evaluate your project performance against. Particularly for young organizations, especially one without a whole lot of project experience, this critical data will help you continuously improve project delivery. Plus, when projects are tied to value this will also mean you get better at realizing value. A properly brainstormed and detailed plan helps you keep your projects on track and helps you realize sooner (rather than later) that you may be experiencing risks that may impact project delivery. In every plan, you want to include a budget, timeline, scope, risk analysis, and communication management.
Execute with the Right Resources
After planning stages, it’s time to decide how to resource your projects properly to deliver maximum value to your clients and overall business. Questions like, “who will we staff for this project?” or “whose expertise are needed for this project to be deemed successful?” are all important questions to consider and ultimately decide at the start of this stage. Despite the fact that most business owners spend the majority of their time on this stage, the planning stage is much more critical (and underrated) for delivering true value for business growth.
To continue delivering value in all your current and future projects, make sure to conduct a “lessons learned” or post-mortem with your project team members (if any). Examine what went well and what could have been improved, but don’t forget to celebrate with your team for all their hard work! Keep a lessons learned register or report to summarize these findings. Although easily neglected, this step emphasizes information and knowledge sharing, a process that is transformative to the success of your future projects, and detrimental if not completed.