[FUEL] Lifecycle of a Project – Four Phases and Challenges of Each Phase

By Dawn Shuler

We all have projects, and as creative entrepreneurs, boy-oh-boy, do the project possibilities multiply! (I’ll talk later about all those unfinished projects. 🙂

If you’re getting that itch again to create something new, take a look at the four phases of a project to see what it is that really jazzes you. It may be that you love one phase over another, and THAT is what has you starting new projects again and again.

Phase 1: Design – For most entrepreneurs, this is the fun part. This is the whole reason you probably have dozens if not hundreds of project ideas. It’s that idea of possibility… what can you create? What’s needed? How can you bring your amazingness into the world through this specific thing? Oh, it’s a wonderful thing to dream of creation!

Think of the Design phase as the asking questions phase:

  • What is it? (Is it a program, an eBook, a video series, speaking topic, etc.?)
  • What does it do?
  • What is the format? How will you deliver it?
  • How many people can you serve?
  • What are the features?
  • What is the purpose of your project?
  • Who is this meant for?
  • Why you? Why are you the person to deliver this product, service, or program?
  • What is the problem(s) your ideal customer has that your thing solves?
  • What are the challenges your ideal customer faces (with regard to the problems above)?

Challenge of the Design Phase: For some people, they think they need to know all the answers to these questions before they move onto Phase 2. You may flip flop between Phase 1 and Phase 2… and that is just peachy fine. This is not the time to be perfectionist-oriented.

Phase 2: Create – This is the actual building of the project. Putting together the curriculum, the outline, the speech. Shooting the videos. Writing the program curriculum. Working on the book. This phase takes discipline and time, and possibly resources as well. You have to schedule time to actually do the work. What pieces can you outsource (graphics, formatting, editing)? And then get crackin’!

Challenge of the Create Phase: Depending on the size of the project, this phase can take the longest, and you can easily get overwhelmed by all there is to do or frustrated by it not getting done fast enough. You may need to revisit your Design phase notes to rekindle your enthusiasm and passion for the big picture and end goal.

Phase 3: Market – Now that you have a solid idea of your project and you’ve started creating it, it’s time to let the world know about it. (Hint: you don’t have to have the entire Create Phase completed before you can move into Market Phase. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, "Build the plane as you fly it.") You need an actual marketing campaign, and designing that can be almost as extensive as the creation of the project.

Challenge of the Market Phase: Unfortunately, this is the phase that causes the most problem for people. They’ve spent all this time dreaming, planning, and creating, and when they get the thing done, woo hoo! Time to celebrate! Well, not quite. Acknowledge how much you’ve accomplished, and shift into marketing mode. You may need to have a buffer of time between the Create Phase and the Market Phase as it’s almost a completely different project.

Phase 4: Deliver – This phase can be as simple as delivering the program, selling the eBook, giving the speech. But it’s actually more extensive than that. You need to think about what happens after your customers and prospects actually buy or sign-up. Think nurture campaign, follow-up, continuing to work with you, and support.

Challenge of the Deliver Phase – Many small business owners can leave their customers and clients wanting because they deliver the thing, but don’t provide for ongoing support of their customers’ needs afterward. For example, if your project is a program to help people get more clients, and they go through your program and successfully get more clients, well, now they have a slightly different challenge… how do they handle the extra workload? Are you setting yourself up strongly so that you can continue to help them, even after this project is delivered?

Now for that unfinished part I mentioned before. If you’re finding yourself laden with several projects that aren’t getting done, it may be because that particular phase they’re stuck in is the phase where you start getting bored, losing interest, or don’t have the skills necessary.

That’s where you may need a little more oomph and a push to get through that phase… knowing that the next phase after that one is one where you shine, or it’s the last phase that you just have to push through to get the thing completed! Or you just need to delegate that particular phase and get it the heck off your plate.

I would love to hear your comments… what’s your favorite phase? Where do you get stuck?