A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who owns a marketing agency. The agency is her first venture, so I asked about the biggest challenge she’s had so far. I’m by no means an expert, but after running a business for a few years I do know it’s easy to forget what it’s like starting off. Hearing the challenges was a good reminder, and also a way I could share some of my mistakes my friend could hopefully avoid.
She said, “I’ve found working alone that I miss the collaborative opportunities of a group. Did you go through that in the beginning?”
YES. And I still go through it.
When you’re working remotely or from home, a lot is missed by not being in a collaborative environment with others. Working with a group stimulates different parts of your brain and many people thrive off that.
The obvious answer is looking for a coworking space or finding a good coffee shop, but that doesn’t solve the collaboration conundrum. Instead, I think it’s more important to look at the types of projects you’re doing.
Dan Noris, the co-founder of WP curve, said this in his new book when discussing what makes a viable business:
Think long and hard about what your day-to-day tasks will be. Visualize yourself doing these tasks. – The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch
Your clients may be great, but if you absolutely hate your daily tasks or if they put you in situations where you can’t collaborate, you are going to be miserable — even if you are your own boss.
I developed a simple process several years back for evaluating which new clients I should take on. These “3 F’s” serve as a great framework for determining which types of projects you should choose. I use it for evaluating prospective clients, but these traits can be carried over to anyone in the service industry.
Read through these three traits, and see how you can apply them to your clients. The more “F’s” a project or client has, the better.
This is the core of what my friend was talking about. It’s easy to find yourself holed up in your home office, realizing it’s been three days since you’ve been out of the house or talked to another human being face-to-face.
I can’t tell you how many people I talk to where this happens. They turn into unintentional hermits and are miserable because of it.
Don’t let anyone tell you work can’t be fun. When you take on a project, look at what the daily tasks are going to be. How can you make them more enjoyable? One of the ways I like to do this is by bringing someone I enjoy working with in on a project. This turns a potentially boring project into an excuse to collaborate and it brings extra value to the client.
What are the parts of the project you hate the most? Can you bring others in or find ways to systematize so you enjoy the project more? If you can’t find a way to do any of that, the project might not be for you.
I’m not talking about working your way to celebrity status, but you should measure the potential of adding a client or project to your portfolio. For example, a nationally recognized brand is a great “fame” client because it’s something that is instantly familiar if a prospect sees the logo on your website.
The other side of the same client is the potential to use the project as a case study or a learning opportunity. I don’t mean learning as I go on the job, but rather, learning from the way the client conducts business. It may not be a big client, but if you know you can get great results or find strategies to apply to your own business, it can be worth taking them on.
Have you ever taken on a client and tried to do them a favor by offering a great deal? Then, you immediately regretted it when the project scope doubled in size and the client ended up being difficult to deal with.
Even if the scope would’ve stayed the same, it’s really difficult to stay motivated and enjoy your work when you know you aren’t being compensated for your time.
Fortune just means income. What is the project’s potential for making a fair profit? Don’t pretend this doesn’t play a part in projects you take on. If you don’t set your rates, your clients will. And you’ll never be happy with the projects you get.
There’ve been so many times when I just wasn’t sure about taking on a particular client, and the 3 F’s have come to the rescue. Feel free to steal them when evaluating your next project!
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.