Tom, here’s what I think…

I think the similarity between project management and entrepreneurship alluded to in the article The Wow Project -“It’s the same difference that typically separates an entrepreneur from a manager” deserves further consideration. With the following definition in mind, I would like to begin exploring the similarities between project management and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship: creating and building something of value from practically nothing.

That is, Entrepreneurship is the process of creating or seizing an opportunity and pursuing it regardless of the resources currently controlled.

Finding and Creating Your Wow Project

Entrepreneurship involves the ability to see opportunities where others only see chaos, uncertainty, difficulties, confusion or no opportunity at all. We need to be careful, however, when talking about opportunities. Ideas are not necessarily opportunities. Changing circumstances, inconsistencies, chaos, lags or leads, information gaps, and a variety of other changes create opportunities. As with project management, it is crucial to identify viable projects.

Selling Your Wow Project

Every entrepreneur should be a “Master of the Sell”. As you stated: “if you read the literature on project management carefully, there is one word that I guarantee that you won’t find: selling.” The pitch has to be honed perfectly. After all, if you expect to gather investors around your idea, you had better be able to sell it. An entrepreneur should be a salesman at heart – and have the power of persuasion.

Executing Your Wow Project

The culmination of the previous steps is implementation. To this respect, the business plan is a key tool in this process. It can help in identifying gaps, pulling the vision together and communicating this vision (and your passion) to others in the process. Just having well written business plan is no guarantee of success (just like having a perfectly optimized PERT chart is no guarantee of project success), the lead entrepreneur and management team must be able to implement it.

Handing Off Your Wow Project

Any darned fool can start a love affair, but it takes a real genius to end one successfully

–Bernard Shaw

Harvesting a venture successfully is one of the joys of being an entrepreneur. However, as with projects, this presents certain challenges to the entrepreneur. The skill set required to get an enterprise up and running i.e. the skills needed to grow, nurture, and expand the venture, are distinctly different. For the entrepreneur, the harvest options to keep in mind are:

-Acquisition by a larger company

-Public offering of stock

-Sale of the company

-Liquidation and distribution of proceeds

While these are not necessarily the same options available to project managers, there does exist the possibility that the project will be absorbed by the company, becoming an integral part of the parent, or perhaps the project will result in a spin-off.

I hope you agree that project managers would be wise to study the opportunities and challenges of the entrepreneur. The skill sets required for both activities have much to lend to each other, complementing one another in almost every point.

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