On this week’s show, we’re going to demystify business project success. Get the hot tips you need to before you start planning your next big initiative, product launch, or business improvement project.
Previous episodes we mention:
WCB Podcast Projects Series:How do you decide which goals are top priorities? And, then what gets you to follow-through? This podcast episode has your back. #podcast #business #goals Click To Tweet
Presented by Jen McFarland
About Host Jen McFarland
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: Demystifying the Most Successful Business Projects
[00:00:00] Jen: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Women Conquer Business. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. On this week’s show, we’re going to demystify business project success. Get all the hot tips on what you need to know before you start planning your next launch — 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]
Welcome back to the show. The purpose of the show is to demystify the elements that contribute to your business’ project success. So many times, people de-position themselves by saying, “I’m not a professional project manager. I don’t know how to plan a project and do it for my business.”
And as we talked about last week, I disagree with that. I think you do plenty of planning and execution on various projects in your life and your business all the time. You just do it naturally without really thinking about it. I will say, and I’ve mentioned this before, primarily in the Bobby Stewart episode a few months ago, that the number one key to project success might surprise you.
It’s not about how well you plan. It’s not [00:02:00] about the tasks that you’re doing every day. It’s not even necessarily about the goal. You see, the most important thing as you get started with anything is a core belief. Do you have that unshakable belief that this project is something that you want to do and that you will succeed? Because if you are shaken in any way you cannot champion this idea, or this project and carry the water to success. If you’re unable to visualize what success might look like or you question if it works, you might need to dial it back a little bit, do some self-reflection, some meditation. Talk to some colleagues who are encouragers and supporters. Discover what it [00:03:00] is that is causing you to believe that it’s not possible. You see, in the previous episode where I talked about it, it was about the moon landing. Remember when Kennedy said we’re going to go to the moon? Everybody was like, we have no idea how we’re going to do it, and yet they had that champion, that person who said, it’s going to happen.
I’m not asking you to fly to the moon. But I am asking you to address your projects from a place of success. It’s the number one thing around business projects. That belief that it is possible. Now, bear in mind, I’m not saying how to do it. We’re not solving that problem. This is just the first core belief, which is that whatever it is that you are shooting for is attainable.
You believe in your heart and your soul that it can be done, and you will do [00:04:00] what it takes to get it done. This isn’t about timelines or tasks. This is about heart and soul. And that’s the key. And it’s something that comes up for people a lot. I was leading a meetup group last week and talking about goals, and someone said, well, yeah, but what if I don’t believe?
And I said, well, no, you’re right. I kind of skipped over that. The core in addressing your goals is considering the confidence that it will take to believe that it can be done and that the goal is achievable. And that’s the key to any project success. I think you can, in some cases, fake it till you make it.
I certainly think that when it came to things like the moon landing, they were faking it till they make it. I’ve seen pictures recently of Jeff Bezos sitting in a room with a computer and a big banner that says amazon.com, and it’s clearly a company of one. And he had a core [00:05:00] belief that Amazon could be something and that he would work and work and work to get it to be what he wanted it to be.
And I think he’s continuing to work and work and work so it can be what he wanted it to be. So, before we talk about some of the nuts and bolts around a project. The most important thing is that the project has a champion. Even if you hire someone to manage a project or an event for you, meaning they’re going to be doing a lot of tasks for you and making sure that point A connects with point B.
You, as the business owner, are likely to be the champion around making financial decisions. Having that vision for what needs to can be completed and how, and you’re the person that people need to go to and say, “Oh yeah, we can do it,” and roll up your sleeves and help out if needed, or be that cheerleader or [00:06:00] whatever it’s going to take to be the encourager and the visionary to help get it done.
And if you’re a solopreneur, you’ve got to kind of have that belief wrapped into everything that you do so that you will be able to get out of bed in the morning and accomplish whatever that goal is you see you. Because I believe that the goals and the launches and the projects that you have that you want are worth doing, and I believe that you are able.
To gain the confidence that it will take to follow those desires. Because I think that those services that you offer are needed and wanted in the world, and those projects that you want to fulfill are worthwhile. And I’m here to encourage you and help you in any way that I can on this podcast, but it’s like a lot of things in life. It starts with you.
So the most important [00:07:00] thing that we can do to demystify projects is start with a core belief, that confidence, that it can be done, and that you’re willing to do what it takes to get it done. So if that’s a deal, then I say, let’s keep talking about our projects and how we can demystify how we get started on a project.
So one of the things that I run into a lot when I’m talking with people about goals and what it is that they want to fulfill, for their business is when I ask them what it is that they want to do, what are we accomplishing here? It takes a very long time for people to describe it, and sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s bad.
In the case of trying to define what we’re trying to accomplish, shorter is usually better. It’s really good to have [00:08:00] a definition of what we’re trying to accomplish. What we’re trying to do that is clear and concise. It could be I want to offer a new service, and then what the name of that service is.
It could be I want to have an online course and the name of that course. That’s a very clear definition of what the project is. And then you’re going to have to get a little bit deeper, right? So that’s just the very top of it for just defining like what the project, what the big scope is. Right? I want an online course.
Well, the next question that follows that to help define the project is what the course is about, followed by. What are people going to get as a result of taking this class? So that’s pretty much the components of the definition are what are we [00:09:00] trying to do, and what’s the outcome that people can expect?
When I work with people, we talk a lot about problems in the world that you’re trying to solve because it really helps people to see the outcomes would be if that problem was solved, what would it look like. Right. So what we’re trying to do is define that project. To the point that is very concise and clear, because even if you’re doing it yourself, you want the goal to be clear.
You want exactly what you’re doing to be as crystal as possible because it gives you focus. One of the great things about having goals and then following that up with actions, which I call projects, have it. Drilled down and distilled to the point of being very clear so that you and anybody else that you have around you understands exactly what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, and it [00:10:00] really helps you when it comes to things like communication, right?
It helps you understand what it’s going to take. To get somebody else on board and it makes it very easy for you to describe to somebody else what it is that you’re trying to do so that they are able to gauge whether or not they’re the right person to help you. It also helps you in other ways as well.
One of the most important things that you can do when you’re first starting to plan a project is to define the scope and define the budget, and the scope would be, okay, you’re doing an online class. Is this. A six-month class, is this a five-week class? What’s the scope of this class? How many people do you expect maybe the first time or the second time, and what’s the budget for that?
How much are you willing to spend to develop this course and then keep it going online forever, for example, or you know what, what’s, what’s [00:11:00] the budget now, and then what are you willing to do in the future? Right. So these are all kinds of key components to really help people understand. This is as part of the definition, and then it helps again with communication because one of the biggest things about a project is making sure that people are going to buy into whatever it is that you want to do.
Buy in is one of the things that that. It is so important. When you get people to contribute or help you out, you want people to be like, Oh yeah, no, that sounds great. Let’s go do it. It’s also one of the reasons why having that unshakable belief at the beginning is like so key and so important. Right? Like if you have that unshakable belief, it will help you energize the people who need to help you.
It will help you energize the potential customers who are going to partake of whatever service or [00:12:00] project or product that it is that you’re developing. So you want to have buy-in that people are going to be super stoked about and run into the fire with you. Another thing that will help you is.
Having a communication plan so that it’s clear if you have people helping you. Like how you’re going to communicate with each other so that you all can like talk to one another, and there’s no confusion or lack of clarity around some things. I’ve been on some pretty big projects, and lack of communication is when things really start to break down, and sometimes you have to plan for it.
And sometimes it’s just as simple as, Hey, like let’s check-in once a week and just see how we’re doing if we’re on track with things and. It’s really important. It’s really important to be sure that everybody knows how they’re going to communicate with each other and when it’s going to happen, because as long as you’re doing that, [00:13:00] then you’re able to rein in things like the scope because people will just start adding stuff and it will communicating more often.
We’ll reign some of that in. It will also help you control your budget. And it will help make sure that people are doing whatever the most important tasks are that you’ve laid out in your plan for what needs to happen in, in what order. So, and communication really does help with that buy-in because you’re often communicating, and people understand what’s expected of them.
This means that it also helps them have a clear idea of those expectations. What tasks, what tasks is that need to be completed in order to get things done. But it also means that people have clarity, and they should be able to come back to you and say, okay, this is how long it’s going to take for me [00:14:00] to get this project done, or my piece of the project done.
And like I said in the last show, it’s really important. To estimate how long it’s going to take for different aspects to be done, and then a lot of times you want to say, well, that’s probably pretty aggressive, and sometimes you’re going to want to double it or triple it. You probably do need just to add more time.
That’s why it’s so important to chart out projects in advance. Like it would be amazing if your business had like one project per quarter and you already have. Q2 three and four of 2020 already planned out. So you know what big initiatives you have coming and you can start getting buy-in and talking to people about those projects.
And as far as advanced as possible, I know that may sound like pie in the sky, but I can tell you that larger companies do it. When I was working on large scale projects at the city of Portland, [00:15:00] we had a pretty good idea of what was coming down the pipe. So that we could plan, and then we would have emergencies that would pop up, but we were always getting clarity around what the priorities were because we wanted to be successful, and we always knew that there was something on the horizon.
You know, every business has some sort of cycle for what a year looks like. It’s much harder in the first, you know, one to five years of your business, but it starts to get a little bit clearer and a little bit clearer. And as that clarity comes, then you know what those cycles look like. So why not plan things out in advance?
What happens a lot is people say, I just have this idea, and I think I can, I think I can pull it off in a couple of weeks, and then it’s taking, you know, a couple of months or three months because they never talked to the service providers. They never considered that they had to continue running their business alongside [00:16:00] completing a big project.
And so it’s really important that you give yourself enough lead time and that you consider that you may not be able to dedicate yourself to just one project at a time or one task at a time. Oftentimes, we need as business owners to keep rowing, to get all of the regular things done, and a project is something extra that we’re trying to either add to our business or a process that we’re trying to fix.
So we need a clear estimation of. How long things are going to take, how much effort it’s going to take so that we can plan it out, and then we’re not surprised by how much something costs or how much time is going to take, which gets me to another thing that is super important as you’re planning your projects.
Sometimes. Okay. Oftentimes you don’t really know how things are going to be delivered or when they’re going to be finished or any of it. That’s why it’s really important to be flexible when it comes to [00:17:00] how a project gets done. And when I was learning about this in graduate school, we called this structured flexibility.
So it means that you plan, but you plan enough. That you’re leaving yourself with enough space to be agile, to do something in a different way, or understand that as you’re going through and doing a project, you’re going to get new information and that new information is going to help you be successful or more successful.
It’s like Eisenhower said, and I’m paraphrasing, something along the lines of. You know, plans are worthless, but planning is gold, right? So you would do the planning so that you can execute better. You don’t do the planning so that you have a plan that you just follow like a map because planning isn’t really rote.
You know, it’s not something that you can follow that way, you do the planning so that you can execute [00:18:00] better and you have to be flexible in terms of how things get done. You may be, can’t be as flexible on things like the budget, but how you get there is something that you can and should really strive to be as flexible about as possible.
The rigidity might make it very difficult for you to get what you envision for your project if that makes sense. So what we’re really going for is creating quality solutions to achieve the project goals. But how we get there is not necessarily how it was drawn up. In fact, I would say that on probably, yeah.
Every project I ever worked on, even the great big, huge ones. Especially the great big, huge ones. It was extremely unlikely that it was executed exactly according to plan. And honestly, if it works out exactly according to plan, [00:19:00] sometimes, you have to question whether or not you did it all right.
Because it’s so surprising and shocking, so having a lot of flexibility in terms of the how is cool because it’s not the how that matters as much as the what meaning. Is this project addressing and, and creating the solution that I expect that’s much more important than how you get there? So the other thing that’s really important, if you want to have like a really, really successful project is understanding and making it possible for people to make decisions that allow them to do the best job possible for you.
And it kind of works into things like flexibility around how things are executed, but it’s also empowering people to make decisions and then being very clear about, you know, the objectives and that they can make [00:20:00] decisions to deliver the best product possible. So you have to be clear about what it means for things to be of high quality, what you know, how we’re going to track things.
But then you want to be very clear about how decisions are made and then make decisions in that way. And that empowers other people. It helps people to understand what you’re trying to achieve and that clarity, again, around communication. And. Scope and budget, like all of these things, so people know what is required of them, and what success looks like.
Those are the most important things. So that was, people go through in supporting you when they get to the end, then no one is surprised by the success because everybody’s been talking about it. Everyone has been super clear about it, and when you get there, everybody’s [00:21:00] super happy about it. You see, because the more that we can be clear about what it is that we want to stand up for ourselves in our own personal beliefs and engage other people who can help us.
Those are the biggest keys to project success. And I hope that this has helped too. Demystify business projects for you a little bit. We’re going to continue talking about business projects over the next couple of weeks. So if you have any questions, please leave me a message. I’ll put the link in the show notes so that you can ask as many questions as you want about projects.
We’re going to talk about as many things as I can think about to really help you have a successful project or product launch or launch a new service. So. Have a great week and I’ll talk to you again soon.
Thank you for listening to the women conquer business [00:22:00] 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. 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.
Hi! I’m Jen! I have over 25 years of training, teaching, and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. Today, I am the founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community build sustainable businesses. I’m a frequent guest speaker and trainer. Get access to my free business growth accelerator and hang out with me on my weekly women in business podcast, Women Conquer Business.