Operating Your Small Business ? Everything Really Is a Project


Do you operate your business as a series of projects, using project management tools and skills to advance your projects from conception to completion? Or perhaps you're new to project management tools and skills and haven't considered applying them to your own business? Most of us fall somewhere in between.

Running a productive and efficient business, whether for one person or for 500, is a series of projects of various sizes and complexity.

For example, here are some projects a typical solopreneur may have:

-- Creating/upgrading your business identity (logo, stationery, biz cards, etc)

-- Creating/upgrading your web site

-- Setting up or upgrading your computer equipment

-- Setting up or reorganizing your filing system(s) whether computer-based or paper-based

-- Doing your tax reports

-- Creating your marketing referral engine

-- Creating passive-income revenue streams (teleclasses, ebooks, e-classes, white papers, reports, etc)

If you aren't using project management tools and skills to run your business, your productivity is suffering.

Now, if you don't have a full client/work load, then perhaps you don't think this is an issue you need to be concerned with right now. May I offer to you the suggestion that the time to increase your efficiency and productivity with new tools and skills is precisely when you don't have all the clients or work you want or need?

Learning something new like this helps keep your enthusiasim charged, which spills over into your marketing activities, which helps engage your prospects in your business. It's all good.

So where do you start?

I recommend that my clients start by using TraxTime, a little PC computer program available inexpensively at www.spudcity.com.

TraxTime allows you to setup projects or clients and then track the amount of time you are spending on that project or for that client. You can run reports (which are great for attaching to your invoices) of how much time you've spent by day or by week.

TraxTime functions like a little time clock you just punch in and punch out of the various projects and clients as you move from project to project throughout your day. When you get in the habit of using TraxTime, you'll find you can then analyze how/where you are spending your time quite the eye-opener for many solopreneurs. (Where you actually are spending your time can be quite different from where you think you are spending your time. And in the soloprenuering business, time is our most critical resource.)

Then what?

Once you get the hang of tracking your time, you next use this history of how much time it takes for you to perform certain tasks and projects to begin forcasting the time you will spend on upcoming projects and tasks.

For forcasting, task dependency identification, and scheduling, I use an Excel spreadsheet in its most basic text-only format. I identify all the tasks in a project and enter them into the spreadsheet in column 1 in the order (from top to bottom) of how they must be completed. Then I use the cells across each row to specify the due dates (via time allocated). I reserve the last column of the spreadsheet for recording notes of special circumstances or decisions that have or will affect that task. And I use color to highlight those cells where tasks are critical (yellow) or off-schedule (red). Works great for most solopreneuring projects.

I've used this method for projects as complex as requiring me to track the work of 12 subcontractors, so I know it works. (Yes, I've used Microsoft Project. I find it too cumbersome to setup and manage for most projects performed by solopreneurs. But if you already know/use it, please continue.)

No matter which project management tools you use in your business, do start thinking like a project manager and setting up, tracking, and running your business as the series of projects it really is.

Copyright 2004, Rose Hill, Inc

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Rose Hill, Founder and Owner,of Biz Whiz Expert (http://www.SoloBizVille.com) and Team Member of Solo-E.Com (http://www.Solo-E.Com) has been self-employed since 1990 - first as a technical writer and publications project manager, and now as a business coach for solopreneurs.

Knowing how to run corporate departments and how to market corporate entities, products, and services did nothing to prepare her for successfully running and marketing a one-person business. That is why Rose created the SoloBizVille and SoloBizU community - to specifically to help solo entrepreneurs jumpstart their business success without all the trial-and-error learning.

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