An entrepreneur who has to also act as a project manager, the days are always filled with a constant act of balancing. In startups and budding businesses, you have to perform those roles side by side. On one hand, you had to lead and manage your teams ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget, on other hand, you have to focus on growing your business and making sure that it is financially successful as well.
One of the primary challenges I have always heard from people in this dual role is time management, as frankly for an entrepreneur, there are a million things to do and always not enough hours in a day to do them. You have to constantly prioritize and make sure that you are focused on the most important tasks at hand and do not deviate from insignificant activities. Of course, some days such decisions are done right, and sometimes they are not.
As an entrepreneur and a pseudo project manager, the way we look at things become different and through my own experiences and the perspectives shared by my peers, I have come to realize that the most crucial skill we must exhibit is inclusivity and diversity, which may not be the prime aspect a traditional project manager would be considering. We have to make sure that everyone on our team is feeling valued and heard, regardless of their background or experiences. Also, it is important to make sure that the projects we work on should reflect the diversity of our society and that everyone is having an equal opportunity to contribute and succeed. I think an effective approach would be to actively seek out and recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds, and to foster an inclusive atmosphere where all individuals feel welcomed and respected. We should also make sure that they are provided with training and resources on the topics such as unconscious bias and cultural competency to help them understand and appreciate the different perspectives and experiences of their colleagues.
Secondly, the challenge of the uncertainty of running a business is way too high. Entrepreneurship is a risky endeavor, and there were times when you didn’t know if your business would be successful or not. This uncertainty requires you to be adaptable and to be able to pivot your business strategy when things didn’t go as planned. It also requires you to have a long-term vision for your business so that you can make those difficult decisions in the short term that would benefit your business in the long run.
And due to this, the business can be emotionally taxing considering such uncertainties and risks that may come on your way, and because of it, many people experience feelings of doubt in their abilities. With time one thing that I have learned is that such things will always come across when you are playing this dual role, but taking care of your emotional well-being is decisive. Surrounding yourself with a support system of friends and family who believe in you and your vision can prove to be a crucial element for your mental health and success in running a business, and it eventually helps you to stabilize yourself. Because, doubts and criticisms are an inevitable part of running a business, and despite your best efforts people will question your abilities as a manager. It’s difficult not to take these doubts personally and to let them affect your emotions, but at the same time, you need to remember that you cannot let those doubts get in the way of your goals.
Ideally speaking an entrepreneur is also bugged with the financial aspect of running a business which a traditional project manager never experiences. And this factor impacts the way entrepreneurs do decision making, and even how they run a team. When you are responsible for securing funds, managing cash flow, and ensuring that your business is financially stable, you eventually build a few traits that you cannot shadow while handling a team. And this superimposes your traditional project management rules, i.e. limiting yourself from making risky and less-proven decisions, cutting costs, or seeking out for unreasonable time-frames to keep your project, or say the business afloat, etc.
In the end, you have to manage your own time effectively and have to prioritize your tasks. This will require you to have a deep understanding of the projects that your team has been working on on a day-to-day basis for making the right decisions that would benefit the business as a whole. Along with that, you have to build and manage a team of skilled professionals, which would require you to have excellent leadership qualities and to be able to inspire and motivate them to further achieve their goals.
This dual-role of being both a project manager and an entrepreneur has unique kind of challenges that you might need to navigate with. But through it all, my overall experience has taught me valuable lessons making me more successful in my personal and professional life. And I am proud of the work that my team and I accomplished, creating projects that were not only successful but also inclusive and diverse.
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