Deciding to tackle a project you’ve never done before takes guts. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Can you do it?
Is this going to be a total disaster?
Are you going to absolutely rock it?
Once you make up your mind to go for it, you’ve got an even bigger challenge: how do you quote a project you’ve never done before?
Not only do you need to determine pricing, you also must guesstimate a time frame.
When you’re determining your quote, make sure you keep these three criteria in mind.
- Be fair to yourself.
- Be fair to your client.
- Stay near or within industry pricing standards for the project.
Do your homework
Find out what you’re getting yourself into, how long it might take, and what others are charging.
- Research online
- Ask a friend or peer
- Use social media (LinkedIn, GDB Insiders, Facebook, Twitter)
- Skim tutorials
- Play around in the framework or software (try a demo or download the free/trial version)
- Get quotes from your competition
- Compare this project to other projects you’ve done that have similar elements
By learning more about what you’re getting into from research and experienced peers, you’ll get a feel for both price range and the amount of time you ought to quote.
Plan extra time
Since you’ve never tackled something like this before, it’s best to give yourself extra time to complete the project.
You’ll need extra time to educate yourself and nothing ever goes smoothly the first time you do it anyway.
My rule of thumb is to double the amount of time I think it’s going to take. (This is yet another reason why it’s important to track your time on projects – you can see how much longer “first time” projects take on average.)
Be honest with your client
Let you client know up front that you’ve never done a project like this before. But don’t forget to be confident and assure them that you have the skills to learn how to do it properly. If you have one, share a similar situation where you excelled.
It’s at this point that you must decide whether or not you’re going to charge your client for part or all of your learning time. If you choose to, be open about how much of the cost is devoted to learning expenses, especially if your education is going to cost you money.
Explore your options
Since this is your first time tackling this type of project, you may consider extra options.
Examples might be:
- Charging by the hour instead of by the project
- Finding a good subcontractor in case you’re in over your head
- Eating some of your hours as learning time (especially if it’s slower going than you expected)
- Breaking the project into smaller chunks that seem more manageable/quotable
How do you quote a project you’ve never done before?
Share your tips, success stories, and cautionary tales with us in the comments on this post.