One of the things that I run into a lot with business owners is they say, “I don’t have any experience leading projects.” I don’t think that that’s really true. I’m going to challenge that assumption on this show, and here’s why. Everything that you do in your life is a project. Get tips on why you’re a pro and how to get started.
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Jen McFarland ditched her comfy C-suite tech project management job in pursuit of freedom. Jen’s goal is to help business leaders like you vet ideas, take ownership of their projects, and incorporate digital marketing from day one.
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Transcript: Your Life And Business Are A Series of Projects
[00:00:00] Jen: [00:00:00] Last week we wrapped up a four-part series about goals. That’s a lot of goals, but I think there was some really good stuff in there. What’s the important thing about goals? Moving them into action. We’re starting a new series on projects. All that and more here on Women Conquer Business.
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 anymore, 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. [00:01:00]
The topic of today’s show is your life and business as a series of projects. Now, I’m not here to project manage your life. I mean, if you really wanted me to, I suppose I could, but we’re here to talk about business and one of the things that I run into a lot with business owners is they say, “I don’t have any experience leading projects.”
Well. I don’t think that that’s really true. I’m going to challenge that assumption on this show, and here’s why. Everything that you do in your life is a project. A project is defined as something that has a distinct start and end, meaning that it doesn’t go on forever. So this weekend I had a project, let me share it with you.
Once a month, my family goes on beach trips. It’s an opportunity for me to unwind, spend time with my husband and my dog, [00:02:00] and stay away from the computer, stay away from business activities, and it means that I am a much more pleasant and fresher person to be around in my family and I’m much more focused when I help my clients.
I think it’s a win-win. So, in order to go to the beach, I have to do a little bit of planning. Like you can’t just hop in the car and go to the beach. I mean you can, but you’re staying two nights and you have a dog, well you have to feed the dog. And you know, he likes to play on the beach. So I have to remember to pack, you know, the balls and the Chuckit and his bed and any other treats that he may want because.
Booker wants treats, right? I also have to take my clothes and I have to pack food because the reason we go to this particular hotel is because we can cook our own food and there’s a refrigerator there and it’s right across from the beach. So I also have to pack clothes that are appropriate for the weather, which I always forget something, but I’m a hard trier and despite all of the packing and project [00:03:00] planning, things can fail sometimes.
For example. This weekend. I look over as I’m checking in and my dog is pooping on the rug in the motel office. He’s never done that before. I was mortified. Remedied that issue immediately. Everything was fine. Paid for the hotel. After the hotel office closed, my dog got sick on the bed on my side. And we had to figure that out too.
It also hailed and sleeted and all kinds of things with the weather that wasn’t planned. Right. But because we have been to the beach so many times, and because we know we’re going again, we just rolled with it because it wasn’t that it’s some special beach trip. It’s that it’s our monthly beach trip and we have stuff to do and places to go because it’s the same place we go every time.
And Booker never gets sick. So we just wanted to make sure that he was okay. And he is, for those of you who are worried, but [00:04:00] we also just needed to. Have family time and that’s what we did. So overall, the project of going to the beach was a complete success and the weather on Sunday was amazing and we had a blast.
How many times have you planned an outing? How many times have you decided you wanted to get a haircut that was different? How many times have you painted a room or hired someone to paint your house? All of these things are projects because. Honestly, you don’t want to be getting your hair cut forever.
You want the to have a start and an end, and unless you are a professional hairstylist, you don’t want to be sitting in the chair or cutting somebody’s hair all the time, right? That’s a project. A program is something that has really no end to it, and in fact, it’s a series of projects all put together.
To make something go so you could think of your signature service as a program because [00:05:00] it’s going on forever. You’re serving new people all the time. You’re refining what it looks like. You might want to make more money, so that’s a project that you set aside to figure out how to make more money from that particular program.
That’s something that’s ongoing. If you have a product. That’s also something that doesn’t have a beginning or an end unless you’re discontinuing that product. But what you do have, if you have a product, are projects that help you get that product developed and out the door. So you see our lives are surrounded by projects in order to just get out the door in the morning, which sometimes feels like a real project, doesn’t it?
It requires some planning and some execution so that you can be your best self when you get there. Right? Cause that’s what we all want. That’s why I want to challenge this assumption. You don’t know how to lead a project. You do. You do it all the time. In fact, [00:06:00] you do it so often that you are taking for granted your own talents and skills when it comes to.
Project management. And if you think that, I’m just making this up. The project management Institute, who administers the PMP, which is the project management professional certification for all of the highfalutin project managers out there. You’re required to have so many years of project experience, like five years of project experience
or thousands of hours. I can’t remember when I applied for the exam, how much I needed to have, but I can tell you this home projects counted. So that means that all of this work that you do in managing your own projects and managing life. That counts. If you were to go and get a professional certification in project management, now you don’t need to have a certification in project management in order to lead the projects of your business.
What is more [00:07:00] important than that is having the clarity around your goals so that you can then transform those goals into actions. Because if you don’t take action on your goals, they’re kind of dreams really. You have to like take action on them so that you can see if you can reach whatever that goal is.
So deadlines, tasks, all of those things are projects that help you achieve whatever that goal is that you’ve set in front of yourself. So I think that we’ve established the difference between a project and a program. And I think that we’ve also established that you know how to lead a project because, again, you do it all the time. Making coffee is a project, for example.
And yet so many times people feel de-positioned and like they need help when it comes to projects. And I’ll tell you why I think it’s daunting. I think that oftentimes when we go to approach a goal, our hesitation around doing it. Is fear, and we have that fear of failure, [00:08:00] and then we just tell ourselves, well, I don’t even know.
I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even know how to plan. Or you just start doing stuff Willy-nilly. Um, I have a client who, uh, used to call herself Yosemite Sam, you know, because Yosemite Sam just shoots all over the place. And so she just took a lot of massive action and wore herself out and then wondered, you know, why things aren’t moving or why things are moving, but they’re not moving in the right direction.
And I think that that happens a lot too. You know, we read something online about the next hot tip about how we’re supposed to do something and we chased that for a while and then we realize it’s not working. So we’d go after something else and then something else, and then something else. And we realize we haven’t really gotten anywhere or the destination we’ve arrived at.
Is different than, you know, our, our initial goal, meaning we’ve climbed, climbed the wrong mountain in earlier episodes around goals. I’ve talked about that [00:09:00] satisfaction of knowing that you climbed the right mountain and we’re always trying to get you to climb the right mountain. We want your goals and what you’re doing every day to be aligned so that when you get to the top of the mountain, you’re like, okay.
This, this may be doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would, but this is certainly the right mountain I have achieved. Whatever that goal is, whether it’s revenue or clients or both, or getting paid for your content, whatever that is. We are seeing the result of all of that hard work and it’s aligned.
So when you think about a project for your business, how do you get started? Because a mountain, you’re like, I can’t climb a mountain in one step. Well, you can’t, and that’s true. The most important thing that you can do when you’re starting a project and you have no idea what you’re doing, is to be sure that you have a budget so that you know how much money it is that you want to spend.
Too often people just start doing something without really thinking about. The sandbox [00:10:00] within which you can play. Meaning, how are you going to build the castle in your sandbox if you don’t know how much money you have so you don’t know the supplies that you can get to build the sand castle, right?
So have a budget. I want you to also think about how much time you think that something is going to take. Think about how much time something is going to take. For those of you who have kids. I can, I can attest in having witnessed my friends who have kids no matter how much time you think it’s going to take to get out the door, it probably takes two or three times longer.
I don’t have kids. Um, but I know that if I haven’t thought through something very well, then it can take me two to three times longer to get out the door because I’m like, Oh yeah. What about, what about this? What about this? What about this? If you’re embarking on a project that you’ve never done before, estimate how long you think it’s going to take and then double it.
We used to do this all the time when I worked on really, really large projects. We [00:11:00] estimated how much time we thought it would take and then we’d double it, and we were always still coming up shy and it seemed like no matter how much we estimated or how long we thought something would take. It always took longer, not because we lacked efficiency, but because when you are doing something new and innovative and different, you really don’t know how long that’s going to take you to complete.
I would say the same thing is true in your business, so be sure to estimate the time and you can never ever reach out to a service provider too soon. Get on their calendar, talk to them about what it is that you want to do. Find out if they’re even the right person to do it. These things are all really important.
These are kind of some of the advanced planning that it takes in order to get something done to get those, those feet off the ground, right? So you can start running and walking and stuff. And if you get stuck about like, well, what is it that I need to do? Think back to like other projects that you’ve done either for your business or even just, [00:12:00] you know, in life, like if you’re in a paint your house, you to make sure that you find a good house painter, you need to have paint and you need to make sure that they have, you know, a time block.
And I mean all kinds of things, right? The same is true in your business. We just like to think of it as this like foreign concept. It’s actually not. That’s why like your life and business is a series of projects makes so much sense. You maybe just have never thought of it before, how when you’re planning something in your life, you’re actually planning all of the time because it’s just so natural.
But when it comes to your business, some people, it just isn’t natural. And so they think, well, I can’t do it at all, and they de-position themselves entirely. I want you to reposition yourself and feel empowered around your projects. Just make sure that you’ve got some boundaries around how much time it’s going to take, how much money you want to spend, and who needs to be involved to help you out.
We’re going to talk about all different kinds of things about projects throughout [00:13:00] the next month or so. What happens when projects go bad? How to start planning your project in depth. We’re going to talk about demystifying projects, which I think we’ve started a little bit here. Um, so I hope you enjoy this series.
It’s super fun for me to talk about projects and help you plan and launch your initiatives into. The next stratosphere. If you have any questions or comments, you can email me at email@example.com. On my website. I also have like a way for you to leave a message so I can field your questions on air if you leave a message for me, um, I would love to hear from you and I can’t wait to talk about projects.
Have a great day.
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 [00:14:00] want to follow me on social media, you can find women conquer business on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. And finally, if the episode today brought something up for you and you need to talk, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.