Entrepreneurs of small startups are forced to juggle multiple responsibilities, and switch roles throughout the day. One moment, they might wear an HR hat, hiring a new staff member or addressing an attendance issue. Another, they might close a sale with a new client. Later in the day, they might need to analyze their cash flow like an accountant, and the next day, they might get involved in operations to ensure they meet an important deadline.
Even so, there’s one role that takes precedence over all the others in terms of importance: the role of project manager.
Why Project Management Is So Important
At first glance, project management may not seem like the most important set of skills for an entrepreneur to develop. However, it’s especially impactful for the following reasons:
Project management forces you to choose priorities—even when the number of potential options is overwhelming. This is a vital skill for entrepreneurs since startups usually demand many things to happen simultaneously. For example, should your team be spending its time refining your core product, or making new sales? Should you have everyone focus on a client project so you can meet that important deadline, or take the hit and focus on something else?
Knowing how to prioritize effectively will allow you to make faster, more confident decisions—and end up using your time more wisely.
A good project manager also knows how to organize. As an entrepreneur of a young business, you’ll be dealing with an onslaught of new information on a near-constant basis. You’ll be stuck trying to make sense of data from multiple sources, and you won’t have the internal team or defined processes necessary to keep things in order.
Project management will teach you how to keep all your information organized in a proper hierarchy, and give you the standard protocols you need to stay on top of things.
3. Timelines and goals
Projects need goals, and as an entrepreneur, you’ll be setting a lot of them, including goals for revenue, launch dates, sales, and hiring.
When employing your project management skills, you’ll be able to set realistic—yet challenging—timelines for all your goals, and define your goals in a way that makes them more reasonable. This applies on both a large scale (with goals related to long-term revenue growth) and a smaller one (with goals related to daily activities).
4. Team coordination and delegation
Project managers also specialize in coordinating team members, including delegating tasks to more appropriate team members.
If you find there’s a task that takes you far longer than it should, but you know an employee or contractor could do it more efficiently, it makes sense to delegate that task. If your team needs to work together to meet a deadline or accomplish something important, the project manager in you can motivate them to collaborate, or make the changes necessary for them to work efficiently.
5. Maximizing minimal resources
Finally, project management requires you to make the most of whatever resources you have available to you, even if those resources are scarce. You might be dealing with a fixed budget, a tight turnaround time, or a limited number of available staff members.
As an entrepreneur of an emerging business, your resources will likely be minimal, which means you’ll need to plan carefully to extract as much value from them as possible. This is a good skill to have even if your resources are plentiful.
Learning Project Management
The best path to becoming a better project manager is through experience. As long as you learn from your mistakes and commit to finding new ways to improve, you can easily refine your skills as a project manager.
If you’re new to project management, you should consider getting project management professional (PMP) certified. Through a series of courses and testing criteria, you can learn the right skills and processes to become an effective project manager—even if you haven’t had such experience in the past.
Applying Project Management to Other Departments
Project management principles don’t need to be applied exclusively to client-facing projects. These fundamentals should be considered in almost every area of your business, from developing your core product to landing more sales and marketing and advertising your brand.
With better project management, you’ll be able to use your time more efficiently, set and achieve better goals, and ultimately put your business on a better track.