you can’t market a business without making some mistakes. ’tis an unfortunate fact. but the misfortune comes not from the mistake, but the timidity that comes as a result. the businessperson who is not making mistakes is stagnant, for he isn’t dipping his feet into unfamiliar territory. and it’s the unfamiliar that breeds greatness. it’s a pool of opportunity.
if you aren’t out there making mistakes, learning what works and what doesn’t, or getting a feel for how you can best utilize your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses, then are you really getting anywhere at all?
my recent mistake: i recently quoted a project at a flat price to an new client. while there was a typical profit margin built in, the scope of the project had that tendency to creep over the duration of the project. we honored our commitment to price and deliverables, but i came out the other side a little wiser. here’s my take on how to scope significant projects:
1) quote a project price, in order to give the client a break on our hourly rate. but be clear in the SOW how many hours, how many rounds of revisions, etc. are included in that price.
2) if scope creeps, as it sometimes does, schedule a weekly call with the client, where we review the hours via the client extranet. this gives a summary of hours spent, and gives a good estimation of hours remaining.
3) determine whether an addendum is necessary. our practice is to notify the client before crossing our estimate, and establishing parameters for the next point of escalation. typically that next point is 10%. if time spent on the project exceeds 10% of our total estimate, we need to break again with a better estimate of remaining hours.
granted, if this had not been a new client, we would have better known how to quote, or would have had the affinity to address the situation quickly.
this mistake (or “learning opportunity”, as our corporate culture has come to call it) will give us better footing for providing our clients a better experience, and keep our company profitable as well.
all is well, the client is happy, and i’m happy, but that, my friends, is a mistake worth learning from.