Anyone who has ever tried to or has successfully set up an online business knows that a lot more goes into it than an outside observer might think. An understanding of web design, user experience, eCommerce, marketing, search engine optimization, branding and constant monitoring and analysis is involved in creating a successful online venture. That’s why project management for your online business is important.
In addition to this technical knowledge, a number of transferable business skills and operational know-how also goes a long way. Below are some of the project management skills that will help you make a success of any online business.
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Project Management Basics
Project management is a serious professional designation that requires intensive training and, depending on your level of academic education, varying amounts of on-the-job experience in order to become certified. If you are serious about the designation, it is highly recommended that you look into a reputable online training program to prepare you for the rigorous subject matter and final exam.
Project management skills are widely applicable as a business owner, both online and offline, and the type of thinking and management practices you will leave with are broadly transferable, setting you up for success across a wide range of industries.
Cost management is an essential project management skill because businesses who hire PMPs want their projects to be finished on time and at cost. Cost management is a highly-transferable PM skill that allows online business owners to ensure they are not over-spending on any one area of their operations.
Good cost management entails not only being able to accurately identify current and plan for future costs, but to make sophisticated use of data management and analysis software like Microsoft Excel to track and monitor costs as you get your business off the ground, scale and grow.
Critical thinking skills are survival skills for any business owner, online or otherwise, but particularly for SMBs. You have to be able to coldly assess current operations, ideas, and potential changes to your business plan in order to make smart decisions and project management training helps instill this approach.
Whether you have gone through the PMP education or not, critical thinking is one crucial project management skill you will need to have to run a successful online business. You will need it to evaluate various software options, potential business partners, hiring and the deployment of human capital once your business starts to grow, and where you plan on taking your company.
A project is defined by both its risks and its opportunities. The risk and reward dynamic of a project or a particular decision is arrived at by performing a sophisticated multi-factor analysis–another essential project management skill.
When it comes to managing risk with an online business, owners need to know how their business model is vulnerable to competition and, depending on your niche or industry, how Google’s rules surrounding search visibility and SEO might affect you. Risk management means designing a certain amount of risk resistance into your strategy and having contingency measures in place should a crucial part of your operations fail or become obsolete.
A fundamental capability in any project manager’s arsenal is planning and forecasting ability. Every business needs a well-thought-out plan and strategy for executing its various operations–especially during the start-up stages–in order to be successful. Project management relies on diligent strategizing, and any online business owner should treat their website as if it were as deserving of prudent business planning as any other offline business venture.
If you are struggling to get started on writing a business plan, there are plenty of helpful resources online to help you take the first step. A business plan doesn’t have to be set in stone and, in fact, most businesses experience one or more important changes to their original business plan as they feel their way along and learn more about the market, their strengths and their weaknesses.
Another key to a successful online business, and something good project managers excel at, is holistic thinking. Holistic thinking allows you to step back and see all of the constituent parts of your business working in unison. Holistic thinkers are able to understand how vision, purpose, different business functions, the environment, organizational structure, opportunities and weaknesses all function in unison.
Holistic thinking is important for success online because of the incredible scale of competition that exists in the global digital marketplace. If you are unable to perceive your business as it truly is and understand how the various pieces and components of your operations present opportunities and weaknesses, it will be hard to break through the often overwhelming chaos online and carve yourself out a viable niche.
Project management is both a specific technical skillset acquired through years of education and on-the-job experience but it is also a mindset. The modes of thinking and approaching business that are instilled in project managers are useful regardless of the industry and application and can be leveraged to run any business, online or offline, through smooth sailing and troubled waters.
Keep the above essential project management skills in mind when setting up and running your online business and you will maximize the chances that your venture thrives.