How to start a project management business

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A project management business could be your ticket to satisfying work, stellar contacts, and excellent earning potential.

If that sounds good, read on to learn about the key components you need to have in place to start a project management business.

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Qualifications and experience 

As a project management business owner, you will likely find that potential clients decide whether or not to work with you based on two key factors: 

  • Your qualifications 

  • Your experience 

Some clients will care more about your qualifications, while others will be more interested in the work you’ve done previously for other clients. Ideally, you’ll have a good balance of the two within your business. 

There are all sorts of project management courses available online and via educational institutions. Some qualifications are built around specific project management methodologies, such as Agile Project Management and PRINCE2. Other qualifications, such as Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, provide a more general grounding that will help you tick all the boxes on the project manager job description. 

Qualifications can help prove the credentials of your project management business – but your work history is more important still. We suggest you create an online portfolio featuring case studies on the work you’ve done, including testimonials from your clients and statistics that prove the success of your projects. 

If you haven’t managed any projects yet, you could create the starting point for your portfolio by volunteering to take on a few projects for a small business or good cause. 

Technological approach and project management methodology

Many early-stage project management businesses use a specific technological approach and project management methodology to deliver projects. 

This streamlined approach has multiple benefits: 

  • Team members build up lots of expertise in the chosen software and methodology, leading to gains in performance and business reputation.

  • Software and training costs are kept relatively low. 

  • Workflow and problems tend to become relatively predictable. 

Popular project management methodologies include Agile, Scrum, Kanban and Lean. 

Leading team management tools providers include, erm,! Feel free to contact us at any time for advice on setting up your systems as a new project management business. 

Business setup and marketing

Before you start trading as a project management business, you will need to decide on a business setup. The options available will vary depending on your nationality, but the likelihood is that you will have to choose between setting up as a freelancer or as a company. If you will be working alone, freelancing might be the most appropriate option, while businesses with multiple employees will usually need to start an LLC.

Once your project management business is registered with the relevant governmental authority, you’ll be ready to start marketing. We suggest you explore a range of marketing channels including your own website, social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter, PPC search advertising, and networking. Marketing will be crucial to securing your first clients.

What are the pros and cons of starting a project management business?

One of the big motivations to start a business is those dollar, dollar bills, y’all. 

According to Indeed, project manager salaries in the United States average out at $86,450 per year – and that’s before we factor in $13,500 per year in cash bonuses. Freelance project managers or project management businesses may be even more handsomely rewarded, with day rates often exceeding $400. 

That’s not to say project management is all about the cash. Other advantages of setting up a project management business include the opportunity to work with a vast array of industries, the option to work flexibly, and the potential to make contacts in all sorts of high places. 

No profession is perfect, and there are of course some potential downsides to starting a project management business. For instance, the high expectations corporate clients may have in terms of prior work and qualifications could present a barrier to entry. 

There’s also a question mark over whether project managers are in demand to the usual extent, given the global situation with COVID-19. With that said, the project management industry seems likely to be far more resilient to the present climate than many other industries, especially ones where in-person contact is unavoidable. People will always need to get things done, and project management businesses will always be well placed to help them do so. 

How to become a project management consultant

Project managers who have done well in the industry might want to consider setting up shop as a project management consultant. 

Rather than working on a client’s project from start to finish, a project management consultant will usually play a more advisory role. This may involve helping a client to solve a technical problem or deliver a complex project. 

In order to build a business as a project management consultant, you will need to be able to show clients that you have had years of experience and/or major success as a project manager. This process can be fast-tracked if you can show a high level of specialization in a valuable area, such as managing multiple projects across time zones. 

Finally, if you decide to become a project management consultant then you'll definitely need to check out our project management software for consultants.

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