Bootstrap Business Development

Taking steps to build your business

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Taking Your Small Biz Agile (Harnessing the Power of Moving Quickly and Easily)

I recently posted a little diddy entitled  “Project Management Just Like Grandma Used to Make” – which generated a bit of a buzz.

Seems project management – a.k.a.  figuring out how to get everything done – is definitely an issue for small business owners.  No surprise there.

What was really cool is that questions came from people whose businesses were growing.  But then that can be good news and that can be bad  news – it all depends on your ability to handle that growth.  Many a small business has run itself out of business by growing too fast because they don’t have the resources to support that growth.   Time is definitely a resource – so being able to manage (spend) time is important.

And money is certainly a resource small biz owners are often short on.  Another problem small business owners have – especially those of us who provide services – is being able to cost out projects accurately.  Believe me, I’ve worked on many a project that, when the day was done, I sure didn’t want to “do the math” and figure out what I’d actually made per hour.

When I came across this post on Agile Project Management from I just knew I had to share it with everybody.  I’d heard of Agile PM, but it seemed too complicated and I thought there might be too long of a ramp up.  But this article has convinced me to take another look because it clearly describes the process in ways that I can immediately adapt to my business – and I’m thinking there is a good chance you’ll be able to do the same.  It’s written from a marketing perspective, but in a way you can easily transfer to other types of projects within your small business.

So, if you’re having a “I don’t know where to start” day – you might want to start by clicking the link and reading the Marketing Prof post.  I’m glad I did.



Project Management “Just Like Grandma Used to Make”

Last post I talked about the importance of getting organized, the most motivating reason being that it’s more profitable for your small business to be an organized small business. Today when I sat down to get things done, as always, it seemed that I had too much to do.

I know that a lot of you use Outlook and a plethora (love that word, a fancy way of saying “a lot”) of other technological devices and/or software as your drug of choice for staying on track. I myself have the Outlook thing going on and use other project management tools as well. All those high tech type scheduling and project management tools are not just “cool” – they work. However, if you’re a small business person, it’s doubtful that you’ve got big gun tools – most usually because we don’t know how to use them or have the time to learn (we probably do, but taking time to ramp up on new things will just have to wait for another post.)

But, even if you are using a modicum (there’s another really great word, fancy way of saying “a few”) of those tools, I think we all have times when we throw up our hands thinking “We’re do I even start?”

You know what I mean. You open Outlook, take a look at your taskbar and discover that every task is flagged “Today” and coded orange (which means “Do this NOW to avoid an asteroid hitting the earth.”) On top of that the phone keeps ringing, emails keep pouring in faster than you can say “You’ve got mail”, along with a zillion other bright shiny objects vying for your attention. You could sit there all day jumping from one thing to the next, never finishing anything – or at least not really sure if you’ve actually finished anything. Not to mention that tomorrow morning you’ll find yourself in the same “Don’t know where to start” frame of mind.

What worked for Grandma Can Work for You

Simple solutions are usually best – and I’ve got one for you. It’s called a pencil and a pad of paper. What worked for your grandmother when she had too much to do and wasn’t sure where to start was to make a list.

Don’t stop reading – go get a pencil (a pen will do, and don’t forget a pad.)

Now pull out your pad, and write down the first five thingsthat come to mind that should have been done yesterday (or last week.) Do this fast, and don’t cheat by going back to your task bar, list the very first five things that come into your head.

Now, draw a little check box in front of each item on your list.

Now you’re going to rate them by giving them a grade:

  • “A” means do it or lose the business
  • “B” means it would be a good idea to get this done today
  • “C” means do it after you get those A’s and B’s finished
  • “D” maybe it isn’t as important as I thought it was

I know, any of these five things you’ve most likely already flagged and prioritized. But things have changed since you did that. The secret here is writing down the first five things that come to mind – believe me, it’s been my experience that those are going to be priorities because those are the things that have been keeping you up at night. Once you get those five things done, write down the next five things, and so on.

Anything you don’t finish today – simply carry them over to tomorrow’s list.  This doesn’t mean you no longer use Outlook or those other task management tools. Using these tools provides the most important project management tool you’ve got (otherwise known as your brain) with the data it needs to come up with just the right five things to put on your list.

OK, so this system sounds really similar to a task bar. I think it’s because they stole the idea from my Grandma.

P.S. I confess that I kind of stole this from a time management expert who was a member at our chamber of commerce – but the “first five” thing is all mine.

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