For Less Big Project Failures in Small Business, Just Get Started

Project failure rates are staggering for businesses of all sizes. a well known PwC Study Of the more than 10,640 projects, only 2.5% were completed successfully. Barely an improvement, from the oft-cited Chaos Report Standish Group Once reported, only 16.2% of projects annually were completed on time and on budget. Success rates for small enterprises, where project management offices or even dedicated project champions are scarce, are predictably low. In my experience, many of these failures are the result of not starting at all. And I’m not alone.

a recent study from zeneca More than 600 businessmen and IT executives found that a whopping 75% of them believe that their important projects are always or usually “doomed from the start”, with 27% saying that these efforts always end up failing. are fixed. It matches the opinion of the global project management consultancy genio, who argues that, “Most projects fail before they even begin.” Think of expensive consulting engagements that turn into expensive binders that start at the center of one’s desk with big intentions… Or is it just the case that the sheer size of the thing is so hard it seems impossible to know how or where to start, so they won’t do anything, including trying to reach Inbox Zero, instead of trying to get to that huge thing. Head or tail without starting. Other examples abound. But they all share a twine of common thread: Small businesses fail at big projects because they never get to work on them. Fortunately, though, the solution to this mess is simple: just do something.

That’s right. Simply reach out and do something, no matter how small or insignificant, to break the force of inertia that is holding the project back. You will be amazed at how that little action leads to another action and then another and then another and so on. Before you know it, you will have made significant progress on the road to perfection.

This is something I learned as a boy when I painted oil tanks during the summer. If you’ve ever painted an oil tank, you know they’re just big and round and if it’s July or August, they’re hot. There is nothing to suggest where or how to start drawing them or even why. An oil tank with a brush, roller, pan and paint can be stared at for hours, wishing you were anywhere but staring at that oil tank. But as soon as the roller hits the tank anywhere, the whole color of things changes. One square foot is painted… then two… then three… and before it even has time to do all the planning, the thing is done and you are driving in your truck to the next one. The routine of large projects in small business is not much different.

Stop looking at the oil tank and just start painting.

I can assure you that just by getting started, doing something, your success rate will exceed 16.2 percent. Because what stops most people from doing most things in life isn’t that they don’t do things well, it’s that they never even start them.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.