Every small-business project has stated outcomes that need to be met in order for it to be “viable,” or prudent and profitable. For example, if you decide to launch a new marketing campaign, the project’s viability -- or it’s positive outcomes -- will be judged on whether the new business the campaign attracts will be worth the time and costs associated with designing and launching the campaign initially. Determining the viability of a project requires an evaluation of a number of different factors, and viability potential will differ from one small business to the next.


A project is not typically considered viable if its value exceeds its costs. Sometimes the cost viability of a project can change over the course of the project’s development or implementation. For example, if you have a particular amount of money designated for a project, and it appears actual costs will exceed the budget, the project is likely to lose its viability. Many factors can impact costs, such as an increase in the cost of supplies or materials or the scope of the project.


A project that is not on track from a deadline perspective can lose its viability. For example, if you have a project to design and print invitations for a grand opening event, if time delays result in the invitations going to print the day before the event, the project loses its viability. Invitations issued after an event has taken place are worthless, and continuing to pursue their production wastes time and money. Likewise, delays that result in additional fees -- such as rushed late printing fees -- may also render a project non-viable.


Losing key members of your staff can cause a project to lose its viability. For example, if you have a graphic designer on staff who is developing your new logo, and that person quits without notice, the project may lose its viability, because the manpower anticipated for the role no longer exists. The project has the potential to regain its viability if someone else can take over the task or it can be effectively outsourced to another party.


If the quality of a project is not attainable as anticipated, it can lose its viability. For example, if you own a small construction business and provide an estimate for building a custom home, that estimate is based largely on the current price of home-building materials. If the price goes up suddenly or the same quality of materials is no longer available, the project, as planned, loses its viability. It can regain its viability if materials of equal quality and similar price can be obtained.