5 Key Steps to Successful Project Management for Small Businesses

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All small business owners have been there: A potential new business opportunity pops up, and you’re eager to work with your incredible team to bring that new product, service, or campaign to fruition. 

Fast-forward to weeks or months, and what looked like a promising project in the initial phase falls through or becomes too complicated.

How can small businesses engage in successful project management?

Many factors contribute to a project’s success.

However, a successful project management methodology that relies on transparency and communication is key to this success.

Projects evolve beyond our expectations. Being an effective project manager means you’ve set the expectations for the project and are in constant conversation with your team.  

Here is a simple project management checklist to help you complete a successful project without missing a beat in your business.

Communicate Your Vision for the Project from the Start

Clear and consistent communication is the hallmark of project success.

Relaying your project vision to your team will help them understand what you’re working towards and prepare them to move past the roadblocks they might face.

Start each project with a clear vision in mind.

  • What are you working towards? 
  • What are your goals for the project? 
  • What do you need to do to achieve these goals?
  • What will achieving those goals mean for the business?
  • What obstacles might you (and your team) face along the way?

You’re in the driver’s seat as a small business entrepreneur or project manager. Answering these questions will help you develop a clear vision to carry out the project.   

Communicate your vision to your team.

It’s not enough to just come up with a clear vision. You should also ensure that each team member involved grasps this vision.

Write down your vision in your project documentation. This will allow them to assess their project responsibilities better and equip them with a greater appreciation of their role.

If you’re struggling with the confidence to communicate your project or business vision, learning to overcome imposter syndrome as a small business owner can help you bridge this gap.

Delegate Responsibilities Within the Project Efficiently

Running a company differs from a sole proprietorship: You now have additional hands on deck.

The success of small business ideas or projects is dependent upon how efficiently you can utilize your team’s skills and knowledge.

Assess your team member’s strengths.

When running a project, take the time to assess your project team and decide who is capable of effectively carrying out the role within the project.

In this way, you can adequately assign roles to the right people.

Ensure that each member understands their role.

A breakdown of roles can occur when you’re not clear with your team members about their responsibilities from the start.

Don’t assign tasks to a team member you think can accomplish them. They need to understand their specific responsibilities within a project as these might differ from the role they’re used to carrying out in other business areas.

Learn to delegate.

It can be challenging for small business entrepreneurs or project managers to let go of the reins and trust your team. However, having your own business requires learning to delegate.

It’s an essential aspect of running a small business project.

Don’t get bogged down in trying to do everything yourself. Teamwork improves productivity and will allow you to focus on what you do best within the project.

Set an Adequate Budget That You’ll Stick To

Every project requires a clear budget to succeed. 

With a budget, you ensure that you’re managing necessary resources well. Equally, your team should know what budget they’re working with, so they can best carry out their part within the project.

Why are budgets significant?

Budgets are the fuel that helps you get from Point A to Point B.

It’s easy to pull from your available small business resources to carry out all aspects of the project.

If you’re running multiple, more extensive projects or a complex business venture, setting aside a specific number dedicated to it allows you and your team to know their spending limits and push them to become resourceful with their available funds.

How do you set a budget?

The budget may already be set if your project involves working with a client.

Alternatively, you can use your experience and knowledge, along with your project team, to determine how much money will be required to accomplish the project goals.

If everyone on the team agrees on the budget, you’re on the right track to project success.

Of course, remember to leave enough wiggle room if the project exceeds your expected budget and have enough cash flow in your business checking account, credit cards, or small business loans handy to cover growing project expenses.

Check out these resources available to small businesses.

They might help you cut out some costs!

Map Out an Appropriate Timeline and Project Scope

A successful business relies on a business plan and strategy, whether a small online one or a company with physical stores.

Equally important is a project management plan that describes the project’s scope and proposes an appropriate timeline for completion.

Clear timelines and milestones are crucial to a project running well.

Establishing a project completion timeline allows you to hold the team responsible for delivering results at adequate intervals of the project life cycle.

It also helps keep the focus on the appropriate actions that will lead to desired outcomes instead of leaving you and your small business team without guidance on how to proceed at all stages of the project.

It’s OK to change the timeline of the project when needed.

Though sticking to timelines and milestones is the best way to assure project success, changes in project scope may lead to inevitable setbacks.

Perhaps a supplier whose delays you anticipated has failed to deliver, or your team needs to conduct additional research on marketing campaigns or competitor analysis.

Having a timeline with clear building blocks and communicating with your colleagues about changes to the agreed-upon timeline and scope will help avoid unnecessary or excessive setbacks in project completion.

Schedule Regular Check-ins With Your Small Business Team

Great! With your project plan, you have outlined your vision, assigned roles and responsibilities, and established a budget and timeline.

The last crucial step in this small business project success checklist is scheduling regular check-ins to evaluate project progress.

Include deliverables as part of your milestones.

To keep on top of your project without burdening your team along the way, scheduling regular check-ins and milestones for deliverables will keep the communication flowing and ensure that the project runs smoothly.

If the final product cannot be broken down into deliverables, schedule check-ins, so your team can keep you informed at critical points within the timeline. For example, following market analysis, design, delivery of materials, assembly of a product, etc. 

Manage roadblocks as you encounter them.

Checking in with your team members throughout the project will help you identify and resolve any potential roadblocks you may encounter or concerns your team may have along the way.

These meetings will also allow all project members to share, listen, and ensure you’re all on the same page.

Furthermore, you’ll save yourself the frustration.


There you have it: Five impactful yet straightforward steps to help small businesses run a project effectively and efficiently.

You don’t need to worry about complex methodologies like agile project management to create successful projects easily.

By having a clear action plan from the start: a vision, clear roles and responsibilities, the proper budget, a timeline with milestones, and regular check-ins with your team, you’ll be setting your project up for success.

Remember, communication is critical, so keep your team members informed and up-to-date throughout various project stages.

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