When I was working in the corporate world, taking on a new project was like trying to squeeze the proverbial square peg into a round hole – it was tough to fit one in.
Now, as a micro business owner, introducing new projects is like water through a sieve! New projects look so shiny it can be hard to say ‘no’, and the freedom to just pick something up and run with it is quite invigorating. But herein lies the danger.
Having too many projects on the go means your energy and focus are spread thin, which puts your business in danger of becoming diluted or ‘wishy washy’ (the technical term).
Looking back, there is something to learn from my corporate days when it comes to selecting the most valuable projects for business.
1. Align your project with your vision/strategy
Ensure that each project you choose is in agreement with the path that you are already on. Is the objective(s) of this project supporting you fully in your mission? If you cannot link it back to the reason that you’re in business (no matter how creatively), then it is not something to run with. (NB: You may need to be ruthless here.)
2. Outline the project’s deliverables
Getting really clear on what the project is going to deliver may help you make a decision as to the importance of the project and/or if this is the correct project for you.
3. Review with your customer
You may think this project is the absolute bee’s knees, but do your clients? It’s always a good idea to glean a response from your customers first before diving into spending money on a new project. It may be as simple as asking them, “What would you think if we did/had something like…?”, to conducting a survey. Either way, gain alternate perspectives to prevent your project from becoming a ‘sacred cow’ (something you may think is beneficial, but isn’t in reality).
4. Identify the risks
If this project is to take precedence, what does that mean for your business? Ask yourself: “What are all the possible things that could go wrong?” If you’re able to answer this comfortably or easily employ mitigation tactics so there are no nasty unexpected consequences, then this may be a sure-fire sign for you to forge ahead. (Note here that everyone’s perception of risk will vary.)
5. Identify the bottom line
Simply, what is it going to cost? Does this fit into your budget? Perhaps it doesn’t, but the benefits may far outweigh that. Refer to Step 4 to ascertain the risk around dollars.
6. Revisit lessons learnt
Look to past experiences and what you learnt from them to help inform your choices in the present. Have you taken on a similar project before that didn’t turn out so well? What went wrong, and could you avoid those problems now? Have you used some decision-making tactics in the past that worked really well for you that could help you now? Use those skills and information to make better decisions about whether this project is right for your business.
How do you decide whether to take on a new project?