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Entrepreneurs, Project Managers, and Collaboration

I have the great opportunity to speak with project managers and entrepreneurs from around the world via #PMChat, a weeklyTweetup I co-founded in 2011. Over the past two years, we have had some amazing experts from leadership, project management, and other business disciplines lead community discussions on strategy, negotiations, virtual teams, and more. Regardless of topic and domain expertise of our weekly guest expert, the community often references the common characteristics that comprise a strong PM. The list is extensive, but it often boils down to leadership, communication, and the ability to manage expectations (requirements, change, etc). One of the main reasons for this is that, as defined by the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. When leveraged correctly, PMs find themselves developing new products, expanding operations into new markets, or creating new lines of business within a greater organization. From leading market research, developing a business plan, securing finances, through to bringing that product to market; a project manager is forging into new territory.

Common Traits of Project Managers

  • Leadership
  • Risk (Taking & Mgmt)
  • Create Alliance/Buy-in
  • Integrity
  • Vision Casting
  • Team Building
  • Communication
  • Planning
  • Resourceful
  • Negotiation
  • Adaptive
  • Listening

As I consider the world of entrepreneurship and my own efforts to establish KPS and assist others expand their startups, I can’t help but see the similarities. Just like the established corporation’s project, the entrepreneur must conduct market research, secure funding, create a plan of attack/schedule, update investors, marketing, and so on. In addition to the activity, the list of common characteristics found in successful entrepreneurs almost mirror that of a successful project manager…with the addition of project management to the latter.

So what’s the difference then?

The main difference between a project manager and an entrepreneur is risk position (personal). A project manager tends to be on the risk adverse side of things. While most folks recognize projects are tackling difficult problems or driving innovation, there isn’t much tolerance for missed deadlines and cost overruns. The very nature of an entrepreneur going it alone and stepping out from the umbrella of a parent company, places them in the risk tolerant side of the equation…even if they are risk adverse in the entrepreneurial venture. I have long said that a project manager is a corporate entrepreneur…someone driving a new business or product, but with the protections (benefits, pension, and money) of their employer.

Regardless of your risk position, both the PM and entrepreneur must leverage the mentioned skills to work across a broad range of knowledge areas and domain/functional experts to achieve success in their respective ventures. The one that brings it all together and enables both of them to extend beyond their budgets and resources is collaboration. Engaging Tweetchats, such as #PMChat, exposes new channels for market research and best practices; while certain software enables diverse inputs on documents and design. The ability to work across various medium, engage thought leaders globally, and create camaraderie is essential to larger project teams and lean startups alike.

Entrepreneurs must think more like project managers and project manager must think more like entreprenuers.

Tags: Project Management Entrepreneurship Collaboration

Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly

Prior to starting KPS, Robert successfully led complex, enterprise projects for nearly 15 years, with a portfolio that spans IT, marketing, procurement, and sales initiatives. Engagements have included development of new…
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Tabitha Jean NaylorJonathan FeistAnya FaingershEbonie AllardMichael HatfieldRobert KellyTara Rodden RobinsonConrado Morlan, PgMP, PMPStephen DaleSteve PrenticeElizabeth HarrinLisa AndersonMário H TrentimKayla A. RoxasNaomi Caietti, PMP