We had the opportunity to speak to Ashley Shuler, principal of Shuler Strategies Group. She helps small businesses with their project management. Her foundation is based on the fact that she doesn’t believe in quick fixes and that she seeks to create transformative solutions for agencies and small business owners. In our conversation, Ashley shared her insights about how small businesses can organize their project management into easy to understand systems. Currently, small business owners face a big challenge when it comes to project management. Whether they are a solo entrepreneur or running a full-fledged small business, usually, founders are short on time.
One of the biggest problems that small business owners face is having overwhelming work about work. These are simple tasks, like trying to find a document or teaching someone how to do something, that take up a lot of time. Small businesses are struggling because when they could be out finding new clients or doing more important tasks, they often have to help others with mundane tasks that should be simple. That’s why Ashley is so passionate about helping small business owners with their project management. If you’re a small business owner, keep reading to learn how to organize your small business’s project management into easy systems.
Documenting your processes.
As a small business owner, you may not have time to sit down and document all of your processes. It’s unrealistic to sit down and document every single thing you do inside of your business. That’s why Ashley suggests that when it comes to documenting your processes, take a lessons-learned approach. What she means by the lessons learned approach is that at the end of your process, look back at what you’re doing. Noticing the subtle things of what did and didn’t work, and cueing up your brain for questions and comments. She recommends looking at these things:
- Is there anything you could do to make this process better?
- Was there a disconnect in what you did and didn’t do?
- How will deliverables go moving forward?
Take the time to document your processes as they come. Whenever you have a new task, or when you have to help someone else with a task, make sure you’re documenting what you’re doing. That way, when someone has a question, instead of asking you, they can look at the documented process.
Have a dedicated point person.
Another thing that Ashley recommends when managing your processes as a small business is to have a dedicated point person. When someone has questions in a small business, they often go straight to the founder or owner to ask. If the owner assigns a dedicated point person that others can ask questions to, the owner is able to distance themselves from that role. This point person can also be the information gatherer. They can schedule plans, write down project plans, and document the process. Ashley likes to keep things simple, so she recommends having this person do everything in Google Drive. You can organize your project plans by folder, and assign who has access to each project management folder. This will be your project manager, and they can keep things organized once you have documented your processes for tasks.
Why you should document your process, even if you don’t think you need to.
Many small business owners think that as long as they write down their processes on paper, they are good to go. But, Ashley wants people to be able to visualize their work and understand exactly what they need to do. Rather than creating a set list of tasks for the day, documenting your process from start to finish will allow not only you to see what’s going on with your workflow, but you can start assigning tasks and automating them. Ashley talks about how simple things can be automated, taking off a lot of pressure on business owners.
Eventually, your business will be growing. It’s impossible for the business owner to micromanage every task as a business grows. Eventually, you have to trust someone else to take over, and you’ll have to teach them that. By continuing to document your processes, project management becomes much easier. You can see where your particular hang-ups are, and then improve upon them.
Which project management software to use for small businesses.
When small businesses are just starting out, chances are, you don’t need project management software that will do absolutely everything. Instead, you need something that is simple to understand and that you can teach the rest of your employees. At Ditto, we’re partial to Asana, but Ashley suggests the software Dubsado for its ease of use and compatibility with other software, like Zoom. On Dubsado, you can schedule forms and proposals, invoices, and more. On top of Dubsado, Ashley recommends Slack and Google Drive. Slack is great for communicating with the rest of your team. Though many small business owners will simply text employees. But, people get distracted with their phones, forget about the text, and communication gets lost. Keeping all business talk within Slack will allow for projects to be easily talked about and tasks to be remembered. Then, as we talked about earlier, Google Drive is best for keeping your files and projects organized.
There’s so much more info that Ashley shared on the podcast. If you’re a small business owner, you can’t miss out on this episode!
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