Growth – it is generally assumed to be the objective of any size of business. Some small business owners may disagree, citing no desire or intention to expand operations beyond what they are currently doing. While this may be true in some cases, at least in terms of physical expansion of plant or facilities, it would be difficult to find any business owner speaking against growing profits.
To many small business owners, both physical growth and increased profits may seem out of reach without major additional expenditure whether it is on physical infrastructure, personnel, or marketing. However, there is another pathway to growth. Instead of calling for large capital investment, this approach mainly involves a change in perspective regarding the work your company does.
The Project Management Approach
To the extent that small business owners think about project management, they tend to view it as happening only in the realm of big business and large-scale undertakings. That is not true at all. The Project Management Institute defines a project as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Project management is simply the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to control project activities such that they meet requirements and produce the final product on-time and on-budget.
The notable features of a project are a defined beginning and end as well as a defined scope and resource set. Projects are also distinguished by their “one-off” nature; a project is not a routine operation. Nowhere in this description is there any reference to large size or complexity. A project is simply a piece of work that needs to be done. The objective is to plan and manage the work so as to ensure maximum efficiency and output quality. The project management approach is a way to look at work and a method for carrying out that work.
Adopting a Project Management Mindset
The project management approach offers benefits regardless of the business or project size. The end goal is to ensure that projects are carried out in a consistent, systematic manner conducive to high productivity and efficiency. Improved productivity, excellent performance, effective time management, and increased turn over are just as beneficial to small businesses as to large.
Thus, project management thinking is the route to small business growth without major investment. Take a careful look at the work your company does. You are bound to find many projects. Any activity with a distinct deliverable and clearly-defined beginning and end is a project. Each one represents an opportunity for gains in efficiency and productivity that will eventually flow through to impact the bottom line.
Become Your Own Project Manager
Project management methodologies are not difficult to learn, and there are many free online resources available. There are also plenty of professional organizations and training programs that offer good value at relatively small cost. Very effective web-based project management tools are also readily available (more info here), and are far easier to adopt and use than a system based on a patchwork of tools and communication channels.
Think of the project management approach as an organized, logical way to handle work the same way every time. Applying a consistent, uniform strategy that is refined over time is a sure way to boost productivity. And increased productivity will translate easily to growth for most small businesses.