How to Use Project Management for Startups & Entrepreneurs



Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: July 7, 2021

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Entrepreneurship is not just a passing fad. It’s a global phenomenon all across the world. There are tons of visionary and energetic people who are contributing to national income and GDP by starting up independent ventures.

There are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world, depicting how the youth is shifting towards entrepreneurship.

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Now, it’s not always easy to start with your organization. Many loose ends need to be tied, and millions of small tasks need to be managed at the same time.

Lack of experience makes many entrepreneurs scale up operations too quickly – the prime reason that over 70% of new ventures fail to perform successfully.

So what does it take to make new organizations work in the current competitive business scenario?

While there is no magic formula or secret recipe, utilizing the principles of project management is a holistic solution that can give your startup a better chance of commercial success.

Surprisingly only 58% of organizations fully understand the importance of project management. It is a detailed methodology for the systematic initiation, project tracking tool, and closing of it.

Project management is a significant factor for business success and helps managers achieve goals with greater clarity. (Source)

Project management for startups is a necessity as it can lead to agility and flexibility in operations.

While it certainly cannot solve all potential problems that arise in the path of an entrepreneur, project management for startup can give a roadmap and a detailed timeline for team members.

Projects are prone to failure in fact, some organizations report a failure rate of nearly 70% of their projects.

It is high time for new entrepreneurs and small business owners to realize the importance of adopting standardized project management practices. It provides them with a robust framework around which they can model their tasks, finances, and resources.

Also, there are a host of innovative tools and technologies such as customized project management software that can go a long way in enhancing productivity and saving precious time.

While it may seem daunting to move beyond the conventional approach and adopt radical project management, it is the need of the hour.

This holds even truer for startups and new ventures as they cannot afford to make time-consuming mistakes or manage their projects in a disorganized way.

So, let’s delve deeper into project management for entrepreneurs and see how establishing a detailed project management strategy early on in the startup lifecycle can help them.

5 Steps to Use Project Management for Startups 

1. Develop A Long Term Vision

Long Term Vision

The first step for successful project management is to develop a long-term vision for your new venture.

Having no objectives is the number one reason that contributes to project failure; hence up to 37% of projects do not succeed due to a lack of goals. Entrepreneurs may tend to be idealistic or vague with their objectives – this is a critical mistake.

Project managers need to lay down specific goals with timelines, as this will give team members a clear picture of what they need to achieve. Just setting down a list of goals is not enough – communication is the golden key that can help you get things done better and faster.

Project team members need to be conveyed the long-term goals along with the leading corporate strategy so that they are not in the dark.

It’s essential that members and managers have a common place to communicate all the project details. Almost all software allows for task comments. Some vendors go even further and provide contextual team chat wherever possible.

This is even more essential for startups as they may tend to be a lot of confusion and miscommunication; hence clarity at the beginning of new projects will make things easier for all stakeholders.

2. Plan By Breaking Down Milestones

When entrepreneurs set up ambitious goals at the beginning of a project, team members view them as impossible, and this may lead to low morale. This necessitates a step-by-step project plan that breaks down goals into smaller tasks and milestones.

Since 93% of companies report using standardized project management techniques, they are sure to include project planning as it provides a practical blueprint for the entire team.

Entrepreneurs may not have a lot of experience in making plans. Hence they need to remember to remain flexible and cater to unexpected changes.

If your project plan is too rigid, it may lead to pin your organization to follow just one path. You need to keep an open mind and remain ready to change the plan in case of any unforeseen changes in the business environment.

Make a scheduled plan by breaking down project phases and assigned time deadlines to each step.

This will help team members in creating a mental map and keeping track of their progress as the project is executed stage by stage. It promotes accountability amongst the project team and gives a positive thrust in the right direction.

3. Manage Structured Execution

Once all the planning is done, it’s time to get down to business and execute the project. Nowadays, many organizations are using sophisticated tools in the market that reduce manual labor and automate all routine operational tasks.

A whopping 90% of organizations have admitted that using open source project management software has led to an increase in efficiency, interoperability, and innovation.

Entrepreneurs may have to spend time researching the market before they invest in the best project management software for their organizations.

Some must-have tools that most startups can use to execute projects smoothly include time tracking software, Gantt charts, file sharing applications, and budget management systems.

Another aspect that entrepreneurs need to manage well in the execution phase is the distribution of resources.

Since startups may tend to have lesser resources, project managers have to optimize the use of physical, intellectual, and financial resources. Resource allocation should be fair and transparent so that there are no conflicts or clashes between project team members.

4. Constantly Monitor Progress

Entrepreneurs need to realize that projects do not always run according to schedule and may be prone to inefficiencies or delay.

It is essential to monitor the progress of projects at various time intervals, and check whether all milestones are being achieved according to the initial plan.

Project managers need to track all key performance indicators so that they can immediately identify any underperformers or red flags.

Any projects need to be rectified at the earliest so that the project can continue by its original schedule. Managers should also constantly provide both positive and negative feedback to team members so that they feel recognized and valued.

This will lead them to perform to the best of their capability and remain engaged in the final project outcome.

5. Close The Project By Creating Future Resources

Project managers need to know when to wrap up and close the project once all goals have been attained. Complete all payments to vendors, suppliers, and thank clients for a successful collaboration.

In the case of new ventures, it is important to learn lessons from each success story and create resources that may help in future projects.

Entrepreneurs need to archive all vital project documents and make a mental note of what worked for their project.

They may also choose to reflect on their mistakes so that they can be avoided the next time around. One smart idea would be to create pre-prepared templates for future projects that will reduce the workload.

In new ventures, project managers should go the extra mile to praiseworthy team members and recognize the efforts put in by them.

Entrepreneurs should tie about all loose ends related to the project, and end on a positive note, thereby boosting the confidence and morale of their growing team.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace project management methodologies with a vengeance to gain a competitive advantage over business rivals.

They need to stay updated about the latest trends in the field and implement AI using artificial intelligence software, analytics, big data, and remote teams.

Startups need to follow the best practices in project management and learn from organizations that are doing things right.

Project management software is another vital domain that must not be ignored by new ventures.

The global project management software industry is expected to experience a CAGR of 10.14% between the years 2019-2024. This depicts how companies across the world are adopting innovative systems that can help them achieve better project outcomes.

There is no shortcut to success – all entrepreneurs need to learn their lessons and forge a unique identity for their business. Handling a project will become a breeze if they follow project management principles.

It’s the best way to increase all bottom-line results, deliver projects on time, and gain an excellent reputation amongst clients!

Chanchal Soni is a Growth Hacker and CRO Specialist at Appitsimple. She has experience in digital marketing, social media, content strategy, and marketing communications. Lover of huskies, the ocean & Boston sports.

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