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Project Management tips for entrepreneurs

Over my varied career I have helped friends start businesses, and even had a bit of a go myself. I found that project management offered some useful lessons to help ensure that your idea is taken seriously and remains viable throughout its development. People who pursue their business dreams are often referred to as entrepeneurs.

Michael Wood | 8 February 2013

An entrepreneur can be defined as someone who takes risks, in order to pursue a vision or idea. Although regarded as a highly creative activity, success in pursuing a business vision can be greatly enhanced with some of the lessons that project management can offer.

1.    The business case

For someone trying to make their dream a reality, it is very important to assess whether that dream is viable or if it is better if it stays in your head. A business case will direct you to define how much the idea will cost, what the benefits are, the risks involved and the timescales for the implementation of the idea

2.     Starting up a project

Before you even start out on your project, consider a peer review of your idea, friends and family can often be good sounding boards, as well as potential investors, get them to look at your business case

3.     Risk management

Pursuing a dream, giving up your job and investing your savings, all come with a large amount of risk. Analysing those risks can often ensure that you don't fall foul of them, allowing you to circumvent or even remove certain potential hazards, and allowing you to be ready to grab those extra opportunities when they appear

4.      Change control

Your vision may not turn out the way you originally expected it to, but if you apply change control procedures to this you can ensure that any changes to your original idea mean that it remains a viable and attractive proposition

5.     Quality management

Robust processes to ensure that what you deliver is right first time are essential, both in order to make your idea work, and to ensure that your investors and customers continue to have faith in you.

6.      Stage management

As you progress through the delivery of this vision via your project, it is important that you continuously assess whether the idea is still sound and that your approach to delivering it is valid. This should be done throughout the work, but it can be particularly useful to create "gateways"; moments where everyone stops and you take a deep breath and looks at what you are doing to decide if it is still right. In this way work that has been slowly wandering off course can be assessed and brought back in line if needs be.

7.      Stakeholder engagement

Know your target audience, both your customers and your investors, do your homework on them. Consider the WIIFY - What's In It For You - when engaging with a stakeholder, present the idea in a way that will make sense to them.

Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks, but with a controlled process to guide you through the work, you can limit the exposure that you have to that risk as you deliver your dream into reality.

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QA Training | Michael Wood

Michael Wood

Learning Programme Director

Michael has been teaching at QA for 12 years and is the lead trainer for MSP, managing successful programmes. Before this he worked with the public sector to implement initiatives such as the egovernment agenda. Michael has also project and programme managed many large scale implementations in the construction industry and in web technologies and ecommerce, as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for some well know utility and communications organisations. Michael believes in teaching in a down-to-earth style, using everyday real examples and injecting a bit of humour!
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