** Queue sad music **
Once every 5 years or so we run into a project where things go so south we have to exit the project before completion. This is painful for everyone involved and not something we ever like to do. Additionally, on occasion we take on projects where once completed we never want to think about said project again.
To avoid these problematic projects in the future we’ve committed to learning from our mistakes. Here’s a bit of our painfully earned wisdom in no particular order:
Listen to your gut
While this sounds like a no brainer, 9 times out of 10 we had red flags along the way in our initial communication with a client that we ignored and decided to move forward with the project anyways. Had we kept to our “thanks, but no thanks” stance we would have saved ourselves many a headache and late night.
Be wary of asset overload
Sometimes potential clients come to us with a tiny budget and a TON of information on scope and assets in an effort to be helpful. While this sounds like a great thing, especially since sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get a nailed down scope, if there aren’t the resources to thoughtfully explore those assets it’s easy to miss crucial details of the project that would have stopped us from moving forward to begin with.
Get another set of eyes on it
This is related to the gut check. Sometimes things might feel great to you but once you bring in another set of eyes, they see things you totally missed or push back enough to create the right expectations for the project so that things don’t go south. If you’re on your own and don’t have any other team members that can take a look, try reaching out to a trusted colleague in your sphere.
Define your ideal client/project
There’s got to be some saying to the effect of “if you measure it, it will come”. Having a clearly prescribed and defined list of traits your ideal client and/or project will help hold you accountable to only taking on work that will be successful. Make your list to have must-haves and nice-to-haves so you can create some space for negotiation and compromise. Then, if a potential project violates one of your must-haves, do not cave in and take it unless you are destitute, without food and shelter, and must get paid no matter the cost…aka that should hopefully be never.
What about you? Any hard earned lessons you’ve learned?