1. Understand precisely what benefit your client offers their customer. If you don’t get this, you might as well quit right now. Spell it out clearly in a meeting. Write it down. Memorize it.
2. Stakeholders. Not all stakeholders are created equal. Does the account manager really need to be in the room while you’re in project planning mode and talking tech?
3. Know exactly what the project is. List out every deliverable. If it’s a report, that’s a deliverable.
4. Keep track of your expenses. Attach a number, a dollar, or a percentage to every activity. Expenses are not just in dollar form.
5. Write the requirements down. Don’t be one of those agencies that casually approaches the gathering of requirements. Requirements are a map for your project. Would you book a partial trip and say you’ll “wing it” once you get close? No, you wouldn’t. Your wife would divorce you.
6. Plan with the end in mind. Work backward from the time the project is finished to the planning.
7. List the tools you’ll use to build the website. Are you cloning a website? What tools will you use? Writing copy? What tools will you use to create, edit, and deliver to the client for review? Are you using a CMS? Have you and your team ever used that particular CMS before?
8. Don’t just take an automatic 10% off. Your clients are paying you for work. You’re charging them for the work. Not because they’re such nice people.
9. Don’t mix up a strategy and a tactic. Strategy is a map. A tactic is the tool. For example, moving across country from Atlanta to San Francisco means you’ll need a strategy. A flight is the tool you use to get you there.
10. Answer the legal questions first and then begin the build. Don’t get ambushed or be afraid of tackling legal questions. There are people who enjoy that sort of thing.
11. Hire project managers who are insightful, intelligent, and skilled. Ask specific questions about their projects. Dig.