The 5 Keys on How to Start and Finish a Project

I got a request from a friend of mine; he asked us to do a video on how to start and finish a project. A lot of entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas. It’s not uncommon to spend a lot of time or money (or both) and ending up getting nothing done. That’s irritating and frustrating!

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In this video I talk about a process you can use that will help you get better at project management.

First, there are three rules you need to keep in mind:

Rule #1: 90% of projects we come up with are worthless.

90% of projects we come up with are worthless. You need to be able to detach yourself from the project or the idea and not take it personally. Not all ideas and projects are worth putting a lot of time into.

There’s nothing wrong with constantly coming up with ideas; you want the machine to be working. But not every idea is going to be the next big thing.

It’s also important to understand that you don’t need all of them. You can fail 1,000 times. It only takes one big victory to be considered a very established entrepreneur.

One big victory plummets thousands of failures.

[bctt tweet=”One big victory plummets thousands of failures.” username=”patrickbetdavid”]

Rule #2: Think in “Bites.”

Think in terms of three phases: start, middle, finish. I generally like either three steps or five. There’s just something magical about three or five.

So think about steps when you’re thinking about your ideas. Later in this post, I’ll cover five steps for how we go about projects and the different ideas we have.

Rule #3: Prioritize Your Ideas

As you write out the ideas for your projects, it’s important to prioritize. For example, some ideas aren’t short-term. They may be five years out, or 10 years or three years. Others may be six months. Or you may want to revisit the idea three months from now. You can set an idea aside temporarily and schedule a time to revisit it.

I suggest having  an idea folder where you save all the ideas that you have, and scheduling time to review your ideas.

5  Steps for Starting and Finishing Projects


#1: Ideation 

Ideation is the first phase that leads to a project. In this phase, you get together with a mastermind group. A mastermind to me is a group of three to five people. The purpose of the mastermind is to think out loud and process issues together.

Listen in here for my ideas for the types of questions you should discuss when getting together with a mastermind group.

Through this process you’ll come up with numerous ideas, and once you do, ask, “Out of all of these five ideas, which of them has the highest ROI for the time we’re going to put into it?”

An important thing to consider is whether or not you have the resources needed to take action on the idea. You’ll also want to consider the credibility of the person giving the idea. Some people give a lot of ideas, but they are ones that don’t have a lot of merit. Others may not contribute many ideas, but when they do, they’re winners. So it’s important to know who to take ideas from.

I also like to recruit devil’s advocates. It can be annoying to have someone that shuts down ideas. If you read the book, Inside the Tornado, you’ll be familiar with the pragmatic. The opposite of pragmatic is the visionary, the idea guy. The pragmatic always asks questions about the validity of the idea. And as much as you as the idea person doesn’t want the pragmatic, you need them.

You don’t want to be surrounded only by people who reinforce your ideas. The person who says, “Let’s go get it” isn’t the one putting in the money down to make it happen. If the person that says, “Let’s do it!” is willing to fund 100%, great. If they’re that optimistic about the idea, they can fund it!

But if you’re the one putting out the money, then you need people around you who aren’t afraid to say that they don’t think something’s a good idea, with specific reasons for why they feel that way.

Even if you don’t like being shut down, it’s important to admit when someone’s right.

[bctt tweet=”Even if you don’t like being shut down, it’s important to admit when someone’s right.” username=”patrickbetdavid”]

#2: Initiation

After you’ve decided on an idea you like and determined that you have the resources and that there is a positive ROI, then you move into the initiation stage.

With initiation, the first thing I think of is, “Who are the people that can be involved in this project that can help us out?”

Then do the following:

  • Make a list of names.
  • Determine whether or not to do it yourself, or outsource.

It’s important to consider whether you want to go and buy a standalone product such as software and leverage it or go and design and create it yourself. The book, Inside the Tornado says that when considering whether to buy something or build it yourself, that 99% of the time you should buy.

I know entrepreneurs want to own everything, but sometimes partnerships are the best way to go. With partnerships you can make a ton of money without using a lot of your own resources to create something that already exists. So ask, “Who can I leverage that’s done this before?” and initiate contact with them.

#3: How Long will this take? 

When considering how long a project will take, ask, “How can we break this project down into three to five different deadlines?

Think of the different steps and then assign a deadline to each one. Also, make it clear who’s responsible for each step.

#4: Inspection

Once you’ve broken your project into different phases of development, each time you complete a part, test it out to make sure everything’s working properly. When you find glitches, explore what needs to be done to fix the issue.

Constantly track where you’re at when you’re inspecting everything. In this phase, there is constant accountability regarding where people are in the process, and what has happened.

#5: Implementation

During the implementation phase, you do final testing and execution. You may also do a soft, beta launch to a small number of users. During this phase, you’ll discover problems that weren’t discovered in the previous phase. And then you fix them.

Once you’ve gotten initial feedback and made any necessary changes, it’s time to launch. Have a meeting to discuss price points, and how you’ll launch the product.

An Example of These Steps in Action

Now for a practical example of what these steps may look like when applied to a project.

Let’s say that one day you wake up and decide to write a book. Here’s what the process will look like:

Step 1: Ideation

Grab a sheet of paper and write down different book ideas. You may do this with your spouse or friend or someone that works with you. Get ideas from them about the things you talk about the most or what people come to you for advice about. You may end up with 20 different book ideas.

Then ask, “what’s timely?” using the following questions:

  • What should I write right now?
  • What shouldn’t I write right now?
  • What haven’t I earned the right to write about yet?

There may be something you know a lot about, but haven’t earned the right to talk about it. For example, maybe you want to write a book about how to become successful, but you’re not successful yet. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to write that book. I know a lot of people do it, there are a lot of books written by people who haven’t earned the right. It doesn’t make any sense to do that because the moment that people find out, you’ll be discredited.

Then you ask yourself if you want to write the book now, or later. Out of the 20 book titles you came up with ,you may choose five, and determine that you want to write one of them five years from now, another 10 years from now, another 20 years from now, another one year from now, and another right now.

Step 2: Initiation

Once you’ve determined which book you’ll write first, you need to ask what you need to get it done. For example, you may determine that you need a literary agent that will help you find a publisher. Or you may determine that you’re going to self-publish, and perhaps publish only on Kindle. You’ll determine your price point, and who you’re going to sell it through.

It’s a good idea to find someone who has gone through the process before and talk with them so they can help you with the publishing side. You may get on the Internet and find a consultant who can advise you on whether you should self-publish or go with a traditional publisher.

Once they talk you through everything, you may decide to move forward, or you may determine that you’re not going to write the book.

Step 3: Construction

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to write the book, you need to decide the structure of the book and what you need to get it done.

You already have the title. For instance, let’s say the title of the book is, “How to Become a Great Real Estate Agent,”

You then have to break down the chapters. You may cover things such as:

  • Prospecting
  • Why are you doing real estate?
  • Marketing
  • Branding yourself
  • Which size houses to sell
  • Do I partner with somebody?
  • Who do I put my real estate license with?
  • How much money do I spend on advertising?

Those are your chapters. You may initially make a list of 50 chapters, and then cut those back to 15 chapters, since 35 of the initial ones fit under 15 of the main topics.

The next part you talk about are stories. What stories do you have? What stories can you use? For example, you may want to include stories from other real estate agents.

Then you’ll do research to find quotes that you’ll use to validate your points.

Step #4: Inspection

After you write each chapter, send it to an editor and get their feedback. Do this with each chapter, and make changes as needed.

Step #5: Implementation

Now the book is done. You have a product. Ask a handful of people that you respect to read the book. After they give you feedback, make changes, and have an editor review them.

From there you’ll self publish, or publish through a traditional publisher, and start marketing. You’ll determine how you’re going to launch the book and so on.

If you take these five processes, you’ll have a system that you can use for any project that you’re working on, whether it’s software of some other type of product, a book, a new system, etc. You can use this exact system in any aspect of your business and know which things are worth your time, and how to finish them.

Remember that one of the biggest things with projects are deadlines. There should be deadlines for everyone involved with the project, including you. Be sure to hold everyone, including yourself, accountable for getting things done on time, and you’ll finish the project on schedule.

If you have thoughts or questions on this topic, leave them below. And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my YouTube channel, click on the button below to subscribe.


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