You’ve got a list of 20 possible business projects and other tasks that need to be done. Learn how to choose your business’ next project.
WCB Podcast Projects Series:How do you decide which projects are top priorities? This podcast episode helps you pick your next business project. #podcast #business #goals Click To Tweet
Presented by Jen McFarland
About Host Jen McFarland
Jen McFarland loves the power of projects, intentionality, and aligned action.
While living and teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer Kazakhstan she realized how much she loved projects. She became attuned to the fact that projects drive everything we do. It’s about listening and learning and creating solutions to the problems nagging us day after day.
After Peace Corps and getting a master’s degree in Leadership and Management, Jen led large-scale public sector projects affecting over 50,000 businesses, handling millions of dollars.
Today, she consults with business owners on leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. She also hosts a weekly women in business podcast called Women Conquer Business.
Transcript: How to Choose Your Business’ Next Project
Jen:Hello, and welcome to Women Conquer Business. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. On this week’s show, we talk about how to choose the next project for your business. All that and more, here on Women Conquer Business.Jen:Welcome to Women Conquer Business. My name is Jen McFarland. This podcast is for smart, serious business owners, tired of the senseless chatter about growing a business. If you don’t want to hear any more get rich quick, too good to be true nonsense, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll learn why mindset is everything as well as strategies for sustainable business growth and how to implement it. Along with the secrets I learned leading large scale business projects that also apply to five and six figure businesses. Are you ready? Let’s go forth and conquer.Jen:Welcome back to the show. One of the things that’s the most important in all of planning projects is deciding what the next project is that you’re going to work on. It’s one thing to say, “Something is broken. I need to fix it.” It’s another thing to say, “I’ve got a list of 20 projects and all these things need to be done. How do I choose the next one?” So the first piece of advice that I have to give around that is ideally at least once a quarter you’re doing some sort of business review. You’re looking at how things are going, what things need to be fixed or changed, how processes and procedures are working. If you’ve received any feedback from any customers, partners, anyone who’s involved in your business, all of these types of factors feed into what you need to be forecasting and working on.Jen:So there’s more to it than dollars and cents. Although dollars and cents are certainly one of the most important things to look at. If you need to make more money, and that’s the serious problem in your business, then the next project needs to be something about making money. If you think that things are taking too long, meaning onboarding a new client or maybe something on the website isn’t working right, that’s a little more tricky, right? You might not feel like there’s a direct connection between revenue and a broken button on your website, but there might be. So one of the things to do again is to keep track of all of these little nagging problems that you have going on and then take stock into what you think that these problems might be costing you, both in terms of revenue and then also in terms of time.Jen:Oftentimes we don’t think about things in terms of the time cost of doing business or of handling everything yourself instead of hiring somebody or the time that it will take you to train that new person and get them onboarded before they can actually be off and running on their own. So there are a lot of factors to consider before you go launching into a new program or a change. The other thing to think about is whether or not the items on the list are must have or nice to have. The reason for that is we all have a lot of things that would be really nice to have. The nice to haves are things that you don’t really need. I don’t really need fancy cars and an island in The Bahamas. I mean, it would be nice to have my own island that I could go vacation to, but that would just be frivolous and extraneous and it definitely goes in the nice to have category.Jen:I have a roof over my head, a happy family life. I don’t really need to be making a huge investment in property in The Bahamas, which is very far away from Oregon. So, see, that’s a nice to have. Then there’s the must haves. The must haves are the things that are seriously taking a lot more time, money, effort, any of these different things that can really take you away from your core services, take you away from your clients, take you away from more revenue based items. Now some of these things, again, could be directly related to revenue. If your client calls haven’t been going well, one of the projects on your list might be what isn’t going right? “Why am I not selling as much as I once did or why am I continuing to struggle with selling?” Then a project might be, “What can I do to tweak how I am talking about my products?” whether it’s to a client or online or in any context. That would be a project that would be directly related to revenue.Jen:Other projects that are directly related to revenue would include things like email communications and the effectiveness of that. How frequently and quickly you’re doing followups, how everyone moves from one point to the next. For example, if you have any sort of eCommerce business and you’re having trouble getting from the order to out the door to the front door of your customer, there’s something in that chain that needs to be looked at because the slower it is to get a product to your customer, the harder it is to continue with repeat customers and make more revenue year over year. So there are all of these things, but if you’re talking about something like eCommerce or a lack of conversion on client calls, some of that is very detailed work. There are probably a lot of steps that go from meeting a person, including where you’re meeting that person, until they become your client.Jen:There are probably a lot of steps between somebody finding your website and making a purchase and then after they make the purchase, how long it takes for that product to get to their front door. So there are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration when you go and think about the next project that you’re going to do. So you also have to consider the time element and the cost of hiring somebody to fix it, the cost of not doing it and weigh those options. One of the hardest things I think for business owners to discern is the difference between a nice to have and a must have because I can tell you that the nice to haves tend to be more sexy, like the island in The Bahamas, and the must haves tend to be not as sexy, like fixing your systems and processes, which makes me excited but I know that I’m weird and most people don’t feel that way.Jen:So I would say that when you look at what needs to get done, the must haves versus the nice to haves, it really does mean having that honest conversation with yourself about whether you have to launch a new program or if it’s better for you to do, say, more networking and meet more clients and do more one-on-one work so that you can get more revenue coming in instead of sapping all of your energy into doing something new and launching it, which you haven’t maybe had the time to do all of the market research to determine whether or not that launch is a good idea or not. So there are a lot of steps between even the nice to have and execution.Jen:So when it comes to selecting the next project for your business, sometimes it’s not, “Well I just really want to do this.” Sometimes it’s, “What’s not working? What is that costing me?” and I think that’s what you need to do next. The things that are costing you the most, the things that are taking you away from core services, the things that are rubbing your clients and customers the wrong way. Those are the must haves that have to be executed and worked on by your company so that you can be successful with the next steps. That is what will open the door to you doing all of the nice to haves down the line.Jen:One of the other key components to selecting your next project is looking at things like the timeline and the money piece. It’s really important for businesses to spend a little bit of time considering the budget for all of these types of projects. If not annual, then at least on a quarterly basis so that you know how much money you’re going to spend on different types of products and different types of … Excuse me, different kinds of projects so that you have the money set aside to handle things that are unexpected and then things that you can anticipate.Jen:Like If you want to launch a new product or a new program, you can anticipate that and if you’ve done it before, you might even be able to do a ballpark on how much that’s going to cost you to do that in terms of marketing, time, other resources. So it’s important that you have a little bit of a fund set up so that you can handle some emergencies and then all of the things that you anticipate you’re going to want to do over the course of the next year. What does that entail? I think that you can all anticipate that you’re going to have some sort of software purchases that you need to make. You’re going to have some sort of launch or marketing that you’re going to have to be doing over the course of the year and you can anticipate that something is going to go wrong over the course of the next year and that you might need to hire someone unexpectedly.Jen:Those are three categories that are all very fuzzy and yet I think we all know that that’s true just in the normal course of doing business. So these are the types of categories that you can use to set aside money so that you’re able to weather the storm of the unknown and the projects that are on the horizon. So with that said, that’s also how you can anticipate or plan your next project, is what money do I have set aside? Then you take that against the must haves and you see if you can get it done. Then you set the timeline because that’s one of the other things about the next project is how much time do you really have? One of the things that I talk about a lot when it comes to goal setting is looking at that and determining how much capacity you really have to take on something new.Jen:Whenever you take on a new project in your business, even if you have other people taking care of things, you’re still the champion as the business owner. So you need to be able to really anticipate the time that it’s going to take and how much capacity you have to champion that project and make sure that that project gets seen through to the best of your ability, to the best of the ability of the people that you have around you, supporting you. Sometimes that can be a little bit tricky. After you’ve settled on your budget and your timeline, the next thing you might have to deal with is actually prioritizing all of those must haves. A lot of us have a lot of things on our lists and we might feel that many of the things on our list are must haves.Jen:So then it’s about going through that list and finding what will actually fit your budget and your timeline best and that is the next project that you need to work on for your business. That’s going to take some planning. One of the things that you want to do is do a check with yourself. We talked about it in earlier shows about goals and projects is also a chance to really like look and see, make sure that this project is in alignment. Is it in alignment with you? Is it aligned with your goals? Is it aligned with your bigger business vision and is it going to be serving you and your business best? You might find that some of those projects, after you look at it that way, might end up back over in the nice to have column instead of the must have column and that’s a good thing because that is what setting priorities is all about, is some things are in and some things are out and you just have to make those tough decisions.Jen:So after you’ve winnowed the list down, you know what’s going to fit your budget, what’s going to fit your timeline and what is truly, truly going to best serve your business, then it’s just all about the execution part, which is really what we’re going to be talking about on next week’s show. So I’m not going to be giving you too many clues about that because next week we’re going to be talking about how to start planning projects for your business. There’s an art to it and it’s very quick and very easy, and I’m going to tell you all about it next week. Have a great week. Thank you for listening to Women Conquer Business and I’ll talk to you next week. Bye.Jen:Thank you for listening to the Women Conquer Business podcast. If you’re wondering what’s next, here are a few suggestions. If you love the show, be sure to subscribe. If you want to follow me on social media, you can find Women Conquer Business on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Finally, if the episode today brought something up for you and you need to talk, email me at email@example.com. The Women Conquer Business podcast is written and produced by Jen McFarland and Foster Growth LLC in beautiful Southeast Portland, Oregon. Thanks again for listening.
In addition to solving hairy marketing operations problems, I host one of the best business podcasts for women, the Women Conquer Business podcast, which provides actionable strategies, business how-to’s, and real-world advice from subject matter experts and entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business. But if you want the REAL story, I am an uber-nerd who loves dad jokes, building seamless systems, and helping leaders find more joy in their work.