When I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to start my own project management consulting business, I didn’t give the structure of my latest scheme much of a thought. I’d been reading plenty of books about negotiation and doing what makes you happy that included examples related to starting a business that made me feel like my latest goal was entirely obtainable. Sure, it’s a big step. Yes, it’s scary. But I’ve also learned how to take that nervous feeling and re-interpret it as exciting.
It wasn’t until I started talking to other project management entrepreneurs that I understood how much what I’d basically done was gave myself another project. Or, if I’m more specific, I gave myself a program of projects related to starting a business, and when I quit my job, I prioritized one particular sub-project.
The Program: Starting a Business
Sub-Project: Doing it Full-time
Deadline: When the money runs dry
Other sub-projects that support the main project include Establish a Web Presence and Rearrange My Financial Priorities. For the web presence, I contracted with my friend Josh Anderson to build me this website. Long-term, regardless of whether or not the Doing it Full-time sub-project fails its first iteration, the website project will persist. Similarly, because I want to maintain the website, including domain name and hosting subscriptions, the Rearrange my Financial Priorities project will be relevant regardless of whether or no I shy back into working for someone else at the end of the summer. Therefore, my most important deadline relates to Doing it Full-time.
Although I had never given entrepreneurial pursuits the time of day during my business school days, I’m blessed to know several people who did actually pay attention in class. My rock climbing partner and my boyfriend have now become part of my project advisory board, along with my website designer from Rule 27 Design. To me, building my advisory board is like identifying the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as stakeholders in my project. I also reached out to my network and identified a financial advisor who helped me gut check my finances to ensure I wasn’t absolutely insane for breaking out on my own.
As far as a Project Management Plan goes, I’m using my business plan as the bulk of the “how”. It’s a living document, so it’s just going to have to grow with my business.
Scope is the challenging part. My professor pointed out that I’m suited to consulting because I can do a wide breadth of work, including the business administration tasks. The problem with that, however, is that having the know-how and a can-do attitude could pull me in several different directions without a focus. One of my friends who runs his own garage door business emphasized that picking a focus would be key to getting started, so I’m doing my best to refrain from trying to do it all just because I know I can.
The work breakdown structure (WBS) is where I get a little stuck. I don’t traditionally create a WBS for agile projects, and I’m accustomed to asking my project team to provide the list of activities that need to happen. Other than my project advisory board, however, I’m depending on myself to generate a list of to-dos. And we all know how daunting an ever-growing list like that can be, especially one where the items aren’t easily just checked-off.
This is where I’ll have to stop procrastinating by blogging and get back to work. I know I need to do it, so it’s time to pull out my notebook and start brainstorming.