Managing Projects At A Startup

Can you take the lead on that? This can sometimes be a dreaded question, because taking the lead on the project often means extra emails, begging other team members to meet deadlines and miscommunication about expectations. When working at a startup, there is no time to waste! Here are a few best practices that can help take the confusion out of managing projects, no matter how complex.

Set Clear Expectations

It is important that everyone working on a project knows the expectations from the beginning. Before starting on major tasks, have a discussion as a team about what completing them looks like. It is helpful to document the expectations for different steps so that the whole team can go back and revisit them when they need more clarity. 

Outline of the Project Steps and Milestones

If your project is larger or long-term it is wise to build in milestones. Try setting up a list in Asana, Trello or another project management tool. This will help everyone on the project see tasks, understand key milestones and track due dates. The team at Asana has a great video about setting up your project

Set Reasonable Deadlines

Deadlines only work if they take into account what else is happening at the company. Setting reasonable deadlines will make it easier to maintain your agreed upon schedule and therefore make your deadlines more meaningful.


Whether working on an office or virtual team, priorities become the road map that lead people forward. Be sure to break down project into clear, actionable priorities. Spend time reviewing and agreeing on top priorities to further the project. Know when to set aside tasks or other objectives that might hinder higher priorities.


When it comes to updating people in the project group, it is easy to forget to update your team. Oftentimes, long emails go unread and confusion about what is actually happening with the project sets in. Keeping updates frequent but short is a great way to encourage team members to stay up-to-date with what is happening.

Celebrate The Small Wins

Projects may last weeks and months. It is inevitable that your team will experience some setbacks. This makes it even more important to celebrate the small victories along the way. Whether it is a quick happy hour as a team or giving everyone a work-from-home day, it is crucial to show appreciation along the way.

Next time you are tackling a big project,  try these simple steps and add your advice to the comment section below. 


Caitlin Sadler works in the Boston office as a Project Manager at Startup Institute. Say hello to her on Twitter @caitlinmsadler.