Is project management the missing link for entrepreneurship?

This is our third article on entrepreneurship!

Introduction

There has been a great deal of emphasis on entrepreneurship and the need for more and more entrepreneurs in the region (West Asia and the Arab World) to help create jobs for the future of the region. There is also a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement for new entrepreneurs – but are we forgetting something? It is great to have the “spirit” but is spirit enough? Do our prospective entrepreneurs know to how to take their dreams from the idea into effective operation? Is business planning over emphasized or is it enough?

In this article will offer an opinion, try to answer these questions, and offer a suggestion on what (we think) is missing for entrepreneurs. It is the author opinion that project management is the missing link that could make the crucial difference between success, challenge, and even failure on any new venture.

Challenges

There are too many challenges facing an entrepreneur today – some of them are the legal structure and regulations. Other challenges are  related to the fear of failure and the stigma associated with that. Even if we overcome the fear of failure we will encounter the challenge of availability of capital. With capital resolved or at least somewhat resolved than? Do we have the right infrastructure to help the entrepreneur launch the business? Do we have the necessary support? How about beyond the launch of the business what support– business / cash / logistics / management / etc. – is available for someone following a dream but only to realize that realizing the dream is much more challenging than expected. How do we help the entrepreneur or small business owner to sustain and grow?

Business Planning

Most, if not all, venture capital, foundations, and other sources for funds – in addition to business schools and MBA programs – focuses on a business plan as an essential deliverable / requirement to seek funds or start a business. Here we ask once again, is the business plan enough?

It is our view that a ‘traditional’ business plan is not enough. Quite a few business plans, that we call ‘traditional’, focuses on the business aspects with a heavier focus on operation of the business. The question is: are these traditional business plans provide a proper focus on the venture (most call a “project”) from idea to launch of the business?

The Missing Link

It is interesting to point out that many call a new venture a “project”, as we mentioned in the earlier section. We like the word project but most definitions of the word project come back to a project meaning something that is temporary. So is the venture temporary? We hope not!

So is the word ‘project’ the wrong one to use? Yes and No.

The business is not a project; it is a business, a venture, so to be academic the word project is not the proper one to use for the new business. Let us call it venture or business. Yet to launch the business is exactly what we call a project – the launch project is to take the venture from the idea to operations. Our objective here is not to get into an English lesson rather to define the proper use of words in order to have the proper context and fully understand the missing link.

So what is this missing link? Well if launching the business is a project, than how do we manage it? Where is project management in managing the launch of the business? The next section will provide a methodology to follow in launching the business.

A Proposed Sequence

Our proposed model will focus on the venture launch from idea to initial operation, using the missing link – project management. Future articles could focus on the use of organizational project management to help build and sustain a small business and grow it.

The proposed model, which is derived from the SUKAD Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™ (CAM2P™), is a project life span model that divides the project life span into three distinct phases; which we explain here.

The Project Life Span for Launching a Business (Per SUKAD CAM2P™ Model)

Project-Life-Span-for-Entrepreneurs

We will explain the model in the next post … in a couple of days!

  • SUKAD Admin

    This comment was posted on LinkedIn ISO 21500 Project Management group by Sergio Salimbeni Gandino, Eng, MBA, PhD, PMP

    https://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=96642&item=5933899434906656768&type=member&commentID=discussion%3A5933899434906656768%3Agroup%3A96642&trk=hb_ntf_COMMENTED_ON_GROUP_DISCUSSION_YOU_CREATED#commentID_discussion%3A5933899434906656768%3Agroup%3A96642

    I agree, the first step for an entrepreneur is the feasibility study for a new venture. Project Management is perhaps the best way to plan, control and execute that phase to succeed. The key issue, at least for entrepreneurs in this region (South America) is to recognize the need to be professional and be aware of the limitations and the lack of knowledge these new entrepreneurs. The advice of a specialist can be very useful.

  • ERNEST ABAHO

    I like the article. Today I was presenting a new degree programme named Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Project management. I faced a number of intriguing questions; 1. Whats the difference and or relationship between Project management and Entrepreneurship? 2. Is entrepreneurship conceptually and disciplinary related to Project management? 3. Is project management in the context of entrepreneurship different form the traditional view of project management ( considering its non-going concern properties?). I think this article has tried to tame my thinking towards believing that; Yes the two are related and they compliment each other. We however need to develop models that defend our ideologies as entrepreneurship scholars if we have to secure tenure of project management as our conceptual sibling of entrepreneurship.

    • Dear Sir
      Thank you for the post and the intriguing questions. Each one of the points you raised could be a post by itself which would be interesting to write. We would welcome you to post your views as a Guest Author on our blog if you like.

      In my professional opinion – there are significant difference between entrepreneurship and project management – although every entrepreneurship initiative (new idea) should be launched using project management from the idea/concept all the way to official business start-up and initial operations.

      Now is project management in the context of entrepreneurship different that the traditional view of PM? I would say PM principles – the core elements – are the same across domains and projects types but yes entrepreneurship projects have special requirements and unique factors to deserve a special focus.

  • Good article. The act of starting the business and getting kicked off and on the right track is the ‘project’. That’s the temporary piece.

    • Thank you Brad, appreciate your contribution

  • Youssef El Zein

    Thank you for the great article.It is true that at some parts business planning and project management may overlap, but this is the case since the topic is starting up a new business.This new venture is started as a project at the launching, and then is an independent entity as a business.Therefore, unless project management is taken as a career on its own, it is one part or a phase of the business plan, when the idea or concept under study is being launched to the real market to operate, and that is the most important turning point.Since we all know that before starting any project, a lot of studying and analysis must take place, and we all know how many ideas and projects have been studied but remained on our desk…The real work starts when action is taken towards the ideas and concepts discussed in the business plan. Thus unless project management is considered as a career on its own, it is true that it is one part of the business plan, or the ‘missing link’ as you liked to call it!

    • Hi Youssef
      You are right the project is the first phase of launching a business and the project is complete once the business is operational. During operation, we could have many other projects each with a specific objective.
      Regards

  • Hi Mounir,
    In my early PhD research, I did some preliminary investigation and learned that the ability to plan, execute, control and close projects was a key success factor to success as an entrepreneur…….

    That is, poor project managers were not likely to become successful entrepreneurs, unless they were extremely lucky.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

    • Dr. Paul
      Even good project managers struggle in the entrepreneurship world.

      The funny thing is — in 2008/2009 after the crisis many who lost their jobs became “consultants” today they are “entrepreneurs”

  • Good article. I agree an entrepreneur needs project management skills and I would add business analysis skills for the business concepts piece of your model. The business analysis discipline includes identification of business needs, assessment of capability gaps, and development of business cases. The IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) calls this work Enterprise Analysis. Take a look at the BABOK Guide to learn more about these tasks.

    • Hi Barbara, I am somewhat familiar with BABOK but but enough to be dangerous:). Thank you for the contribution

  • Reblogged this on SUKAD.

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  • Ricardo S

    Very good article; raised from the simple.

  • Deniz

    Thanks for the explanation. Most appreciated!

  • Deniz

    Great article. Thank you. Do you recommend an entrepreneur to write down his business details in a project plan or in a business plan with additional project management details? The way I see it, a well developed project plan should ideally cover the feasibility section which should cover the justification of financials, market demand, competition, etc. But if a project plan is integrated into an already existing business plan, then there may be repeated information. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    • Dear Deniz

      If the business plan includes the plan necessary to launch the business PROPERLY then the business plan and project plan could overlap and we do not see a need for duplication. However, many business plan focus on the feasibility of the business and include operational and management matters but may not offer the proper sequence of activities, risks, timing, stakeholders management among other factors that are needed from the time the idea is generated to the time the business start operations.

      The key here to emphasis again – we should not be duplicating effort and if we can combine both plans into one so be it and whether we call it project plan, venture plan, initiative plan or business plan is not relevant.
      Thank you