As a business owner, you wear many hats. And one of them is “Project Manager.”

Whether it is overseeing production, running a strategic marketing campaign, or managing customer relationships, you typically spend a large portion of your day overseeing projects. (I know I do!)

Traditional project managers, such as managers in the construction industry, go through years of training in order to maximize quality and effectiveness. On the other hand, most business owners have no formal training in this area.

That’s OK – most of you don’t need formal training. But it is important that you continue to learn and refine your approach to produce the best results possible.

Below are three elements that should be in place before you launch any project. How well are you doing?

  1. Know where you’re going… and why. What is the purpose of your project? What are the final deliverables? What is the expected timeframe? It’s important to communicate with all parties to ensure that everyone is on the same page. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from business owners who have spent months working on a project of some type, only to discover that their customer had something else in mind. The wasted time and resources could have easily been avoided with better communication ahead of time.

  2. Plan before you act. Take time to think the project through – are there multiple phases involved? Are there elements that cannot be started until other elements are completed? What areas demand priority? Create a master plan and assign your staff and your resources accordingly. This may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many projects I have seen go wrong… just because they weren’t planned thoroughly ahead of time!

  3. Set clear expectations for your team. In step one, you’ve identified what you are going to do. In step two, you’ve identified how you are going to do it. Now, it’s important that you communicate this information to your team. Who is responsible for specific action items? What are your deadlines? Take the time to communicate your expectations and urge your team to ask questions if there is anything they don’t understand. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Just because you understand something doesn’t mean that your team does. Don’t take any chances – make SURE everyone is on the same page.

While there have been entire textbooks written on the topic of project management, these three steps will ensure that you start every project on the right foot. Put them into practice the next time you kick off a project!