5 Project Management Tips for Your Startup Design Business

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Have you decided to start your own business or are you already in your early development phase? Regardless of whether you’ve taken project management classes or are just running on instinct, advice from people in the field or people you know, managing a startup business is not easy to do. It requires juggling a lot of issues. It’s easy to get overloaded, to procrastinate and lose sight of your goals. Let’s take a look at thing you could do to make your job easier!

1. Two goals each day

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If you are feeling overwhelmed or if you just want to have a clearer image of what you should be doing today, setting goals is a smart choice. Before you check your email, your Twitter or your Facebook and go through newly arisen issues, take a moment to have your beverage of choice and look at the previous day. Without giving yourself a hard time about anything that went wrong, take the time to acknowledge your failures and successes in order to set your goals for today.

Decide on two objectives for the current day. Write them down. Doing so before reading today’s updates will allow you to keep focus and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” — Cornelius Fitchner

2. One plan per month

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Have a plan ready at the beginning at the month, listing all your projects and aligning your goals. This list should be reviewed once a week in order to check progress. It’s ideal that you don’t add any new items to the current month’s list, but you keep a secondary list for new stuff. This secondary list could be used to fill your spare time (you don’t want to have any downtime, do you) or to develop next month’s plan.

3. Take your time

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A common misconception in the world of startup companies is the fact that you need to always be ahead of the competition and everything needs to happen quickly or it will be pointless. Of course you always have to strive to be better than your competitors, but try to find that one thing that separates you from the others. Work smart, not just hard, and steer away from the risk of burning out.

Do things at your own pace and choose on quality over quantity. It’s not easy balancing between being fast-paced and not rushing your work but you should keep in mind that a single task done efficiently is better than two done quickly that may need to have their results revised several times in order for them to be deemed compliant to the set goals.

4. Set realistic deadlines

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Having deadlines is very beneficial to any entrepreneur or institution and your startup company is no different. Deadlines provide a schedule for being productive. They also increase your ethic and discipline.

Taking the steps to continuously move closer to your goals provides a sense of accomplishment for you and your entire team.

Another benefit of deadlines is that they can prevent an overload of the work schedule.

“You may con a person into committing to an unreasonable deadline, but you cannot bully them into meeting it.” – Edwards, Butler, Hill, and Russell

As much as setting deadlines is important, setting them wrongly can damage you and your team more than you can imagine. Setting realistic and achievable deadlines will help you avoid a lot of stress and guarantee a sense of accomplishment when the deadline is met.

Remember being productive does not mean you should take on too much and run yourself into the ground.

Setting impossible deadlines and pressuring yourself and your colleagues to meet them may have negative consequences such as loss of morale, lowered motivation and even loss of credibility from your clients if you fail to meet the deadline.

Make sure that if and when you do set a very hard (almost impossible) deadline, there is a good reason behind it. There are various reasons you might need to set a very hard deadline at some point. A few that come to mind are those that are set in order to meet laws and regulations or deadlines that are based on financial requirements.  These two issues are considered “life and death situations” and often require extreme deadlines.

5. Hire the right people

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Startup companies are known for having a small amount of employees. Because of this, every employee counts a lot more than they would inside a larger company. Mathematically speaking, if you have 5 employees, assuming work is divided evenly among them, each of them can bear up to 20% of the burden of making your business a success.

This is why it’s very important that you have the right people working to achieve the goals you set. You don’t have to hire “rockstars”. Not only is it hard to get these “best in the field” employees when starting up your project, but hiring them can be quite costly.

The best idea would be to hire people who wish to grow with your company. As long as they fit your company’s culture and have the skills required to do the job, they are the right person for you. This is a way to discover amazing and possibly untapped talent in people and to some level ensures loyalty and dedication from your employees.

Don’t be afraid to outsource. There are tasks inside your company for which you might not want to hire a full time employee. For example, unless your business has high requirement for a full time online presence, designing your website could be outsourced to either a web development company or an independent contractor.

Things to keep in mind when outsourcing are the pros and cons your options have:

  • Hiring an independent contractor means they aren’t your full time employees and usually do freelance work of their own. This option comes in cheaper than others and ensures a more flexible relationship as you can start and stop project and adjust schedule as needed. The downside would be that they are not invested in your company’s success and sometimes they will want to be compensated for their time without yielding the desired results. This also means they could take longer to do the job than it would normally take.
  • Hiring another company can be pretty expensive and you won’t get the flexibility one gets when working with an individual. The upside is that they will always be on schedule and provide high quality results.

Managing a startup is a very daring and difficult thing to do and you need to use all the tools at your disposal in order to succeed. Efficient time management, setting goals and deadlines and working with the right people are only a few of the things you need to keep in mind when juggling issues on your way to success.

I’d very much enjoy hearing about more tips about project management for startups. Feel free to leave some in the comments below!

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