If I could turn back the hands of time and change anything about my journey as a creative entrepreneur thus far, it would without a doubt be placing more of an emphasis on project management with my projects & clients.
From the beginning, my creative vision & drive to succeed were off the charts; but assuming that my projects would come together smoothly because I was talented, easy to work with, or had a “good heart” left me falling short at times – and strained some relationships with clients and good people in the process.
No matter what skill set or experience you bring to a project, without a solid plan in place, you’ll always fail. That’s an easy principle for us to grasp, right? Yet so many of us drop the ball in this area by overestimating our abilities to lead others down a path without clearly defining success for every aspect of the process. Project management empowers us to become proactive in our success, instead of needing to be reactive when things turn sour.
Here are 3 reasons why project management is essential to every freelancer, startup or entrepreneur:
- Project management defines a path and sets expectations – This sounds simple, but if your client or team doesn’t clearly know where the project is headed, they won’t follow you. Effective project management allows you to define & set expectations for a project, assign roles, create baseline metrics for performance, and keep everyone focused – while still allowing for creative freedom!
- Project management maximizes your resources – If you wanna save some major cash (and time) as a freelancer or startup, make it a practice to create a plan for every single project you take on! Resources are so precious as you hustle to get your business going, so setting budgets and managing the amount of hours you’ve allotted to completing tasks helps to weed out unnecessary steps and processes that steal away from you making a profit.
- Project management insures quality & consistency – This one is a major key. As a creative or entrepreneur today, competition in your industry will more than likely be fierce. You’ll have to quickly identify the industry standard, and push the envelope to distinguish yourself, your services and your value to potential clients. With so many others vying for the opportunities you want, you’ll have to consistently produce excellent results – or you may not ever get a second chance. Having a solid plan to manage your projects will help you identify risks, which helps ensure you deliver a high-quality product or service. Not to mention a very happy client!
“Ok, so I realize that I should become more intentional with managing my projects; but where should I begin?”
I’ve got you covered. I spent quite a bit of time researching the top FREE project management platforms in the game, and have listed them for you below:
Podio is a completely customizable project management software that you can adapt for literally any kind of project you can imagine. If they don’t have pre-built modules for what you need, it’s super easy to build them! Use it alone or with a team.
LiquidPlanner was developed specifically for tech teams. You can use dynamic project plans that adapt to the day-to-day capabilities of your team, rather than static plans that are a constant source of stress. It even instantly shows you the impact of changing around priorities or due dates.
This is my personal favorite at the moment. For those of you who love to have a good organized brainstorming session, this is the tool for you. It is a free online collaboration tool that’s organized by boards, lists, and cards. You can attach files, images, etc., to each card and add as many people as you want on board for collaboration. Changes appear in real time.
Wrike is a project management app that includes collaboration tools and document sharing, making it perfect for teams. Workflows can be customized for each team. It’s great for product development, marketing, and more.
Solo is a project and business management app built specifically for freelancers who work, well, solo. It includes time sheets, project analysis and management tools, invoicing tools, expense tracking, and more.
Asana is a game changer. This popular group collaboration tool is free to use for up to 15 people. You can also subscribe or unsubscribe to notifications regarding changes to the task so everyone knows what is going on. I used Asana for several years, and it looks beautiful and makes life easier.
Everyone I know who’s used this one loves Evernote. You can store notes, receipts, and other miscellaneous files associated with each project quickly & efficiently.
This one isn’t free, but made the list because it’s one of the more popular project management tools out there. It starts at $20 a month for 10 projects at a time. It’s robust, and integrates with many time management and financial management platforms.
I’ve personally used many of these management platforms throughout the years, and they’re all useful tools in their own way – experiment around with them to find what works best for you. Now that you’re squared away with these amazing project management toolkits, it’s time to start planning, saving time and money, and making a name for yourself and what you do. Best of luck, and keep pioneering!
“If you ever feel stuck and need some hands on, 1-on-1 advice for adding meaning, purpose and value to what you do, shoot me an email! I’m currently consulting with entrepreneurs & creatives around the world who are disrupting the status quo and reaching higher heights in their life and business: email@example.com“