This is a special request article.  A client of mine told me that a colleague
reached out to him to do a “quick” project.  He priced it on the low end, since it was for a friend and it seemed pretty straightforward.  She said yes and he set his team off to work.

The result…”She’s been a disaster.  Poor communication and deadlines we didn’t agree to.  My poor team is ready to cry.  We’re getting through it, but it sucks.”

So what could he have done differently?  What would have made this project work for everyone? For his client, for him, and for his team.

It’s really quite simple…

Before you agree to a project make sure you understand what’s truly being asked of you AND clearly establish expectations for both you and your client paying close attention to the following 10 guidelines.

  • Understand what will you need to deliver.
  • Clearly define any deadlines that you will need to meet.
  • Identify the information or materials you need in order to get started and make sure you have a plan to get them.
  • Outline your client’s deadlines.  What materials do they need to deliver and turnaround time for any feedback they have to provide to you.
  • Communicate how missing deadlines (on either your part or your client’s part) will impact the project’s timeline.
  • Create a single document that clearly outlines everyone’s responsibilities that all parties agree to.
  • When scope changes occur get on the phone with your client immediately and renegotiate or say NO to the change.  You’ll be able to do this because you have an agreement in place.
  • If you agree to a change in scope make sure you both understand how that will shift deadlines, deliverables and pricing and update your agreement.
  •  Never underprice your work.  Make sure that your proposal is priced in a way that makes you feel good about the work you are doing and allows your client to respect you.  That’s not to say that you can’t offer a friend or current client a price break, it’s more to say that make sure you are being fair to yourself and that you aren’t letting yourself be taken advantage of.

And I guess the most important thing is this…

Before you even make a proposal on a project ask yourself if it’s something you want to get involved in in the first place.  Is it something you want yourself and your business to be associated with?  Are you doing it for the money or are you doing it because it’s a project that you feel good about.

And what about the prospect?  What happens if you say no to them?  Chances are that someone will say yes and that person will do a better job for them then you would have because it’s a job that they wanted to take on.

It might be awkward saying no to a project.  It might be difficult to communicate so openly with clients and prospects.  For me, I’d rather go to sleep at night with a few less dollars in my pocket but with a smile on my face and knowing that I’ve respected myself, my boundaries and my team especially because when I take care of myself I know the right clients will come to take care of me.

What about you?  Are there projects or things that you’re thinking about doing that you’d be better off saying no to or at least asking more questions about before you say yes?  I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.