3 Tools to Help You Go For It!
Why do we feel that there has to be the right answer before we move forward?
Maybe it was our schooling or how we were raised. Are you 60% sure? Do you have an 80% confidence level? Do you feel like you have to know 100% of the solution before you can complete a task? This can all lead to serious analysis paralysis, which is fatal!
Whereas in life it seems the opposite is true. Try a little and see how it worked. Do a little more and assess if the results were different. If you are running a large project or starting a business there are no right answers. There is no ‘A’ grade waiting at the end of the semester. Sure studying can help but it won’t answer all your questions. So what can you do? Here are three tools (models) I love and help me keep pushing forward.
Issues / Decisions Log
Sometimes there are so many unknowns and unanswered questions. So just start documenting all of your questions, issues, assumptions and decisions so you can plowed ahead.
If you put it down on paper then you can discuss it, debate it, fix it, tweak it, change it and most importantly move on! The issues / decision log is extremely easy! Remember, there are no right answers.
Write down all of your questions and issues. (I use Excel or Google Sheets) Be as brief or verbose as you need to be in describing the issue or question.
Next list who owns it. Has there been a decision, if so document it and put a date when the decision was made. You can add more to the tracking sheet if you like but keep it as simple as you can. If it is a huge project you can add categories / sub-categories. You can also put in estimated completion dates. Again, no right answer for using this tool.
Expenses & Income
Maybe you aren’t an accountant. Perhaps you don’t like math. Well, you are going to have to run the numbers if you want to be successful, at least at a high-level.
To successfully run large projects or startup a business you need to know how much it’s going to cost and where the money is coming from. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start simple, document your assumptions and evolve your model as your project grows.
Again Excel or Sheets is your best friend for this. In the first go around list all of your potential expenses. Grouping them helps you not forget important details. People, Software, Hardware, Marketing, Sales, Hosting, Travel, Equipment… The list can go on and on.
Then think about how the cost incurs. Is it hourly, yearly, by quantity, etc. Make sure to note how you are calculating the cost. Also don’t make the mistake of carrying that logic to another item.
Next add time. Not all expenses occur on the first day. Some expenses won’t happen until two years into a project. Breaking your expenses into quarters or months will help you understand when you will need the money.
Income. If it’s a fully funded project, great for you! You don’t have to worry so much about the money side. But even many internal projects have to negotiated for funding. Many times you have to stop doing something in order to afford to do something new. This can be complicated, political and even potentially threatening. Make sure you document and confirm your project funding sources.
If this is a startup you need to also document your funding model and income sources. Are you bootstrapping? Investors? Do you already have a customer? Do you have to go find customers? Again, document what your assumptions are and move forward.
Lastly compare your expenses to your income. Do you have enough money to do the project? Do you have periods when you are short? Hopefully you are sitting on piles of cash and don’t have to worry about it, but if you are like most of us, you will constantly revisit this model and make many changes.
Keep it simple. Use these tools to help you clearly communicate what your business (or project) does. These results can be incorporated into your presentations and you can then verify your assumptions with your team, investors and customers.
Debate & Change
Any of these tools (models) can greatly aid by forcing you to think through what problems are you solving, what challenges you have and how are you going to pay for all of it. Constantly refining your approach and solutions as you move forward is the key to your success. Use these to encourage healthy debate, improve your communication and get feedback. Make any necessary improvements but keep pushing forward.
I highly recommend that you save different versions of your files so that you can see the progress you have made. That way you can look back and laugh at where you were and how far you have come. Document your assumptions and go for it!