You knew it was only a matter of time before it happened. You had been careful, trying to make sure you covered all your bases, all possibilities, but somehow, you still ended up short. Now you're faced with the decision on how to recover from the mess with as little complication as possible.
Don't worry, it happens to everyone.
And while it really does suck, it's not the end of the world. In fact, it can be a great learning experience, and if you pay attention to what happened, you can probably ensure that it doesn't happen again, or that the impact will at least be smaller the next time.
It's important to remember that while this sort of thing does tend to bring out the worst of emotions, it's not the end of the world. Yes, it will set you back a little bit monetarily. Yes, it will eat up more of your time. But that's probably the worst of it.
When engaging in business with other companies and individuals, it's important that they feel like they made the right choice by coming to you, and that means keeping your cool.
Don't Unload On Your Client
One of the worst things you can do is tell your client that you went over the budget or that you misjudged it. Even if you don't say it, most likely their first thought is going to be that you want more money. It will most likely put you and them at odds, which could have a negative impact on finishing the project.
It doesn't matter how friendly you might be, a business needs to operate as a business. If you give undue reason for them to question your business abilities, you might find yourself without a client sooner than later.
*The only side note to this would be in a case where the client continually adds to the scope of work. At this point it's up to you to figure out the best way to tell them the increased work will mean increased contract price, but this is a different scenario than what we are discussing.
Finish The Project
I know that this probably seems like a super obvious point, but it still needs to be said. I can't tell you how many times I've had new clients come to me simply because the current designer or developer disappeared from a project. A couple of times it's been because of budget reasons (although sometimes it's for very different reasons).
When you have a signed contract with a business, or an individual, you're on the hook for that project and whatever you agreed to. Going over the budget due to poor planning is no reason to walk away, and you could find yourself on the wrong side of a breach of contract. This will not only affect your present project, but possibly any other future project you might hope to get.
Take Notes For the Future
One of the best things you can do in a case like this is to take notes for yourself. Ask yourself the important questions, ie, Why did I go over budget? Where did my time go? Did I miscalculate my time or did I waste it?
It's important to take note of the things that went wrong versus the things you simply messed up on. If you have 25 hours to finish a project and you spend 15 of them on Facebook, that's poor planning, and you need to re-evaluate your work process. If it turns out you misjudged the skill set needed to complete a project, that would be something to allot for in the future, or consider bringing in some outside help.
Pick Yourself Up and Do It Again
The only way to ensure that you improve is to learn from your mistakes. Continually streamlining your process and increasing your effectiveness are all parts of running a business and managing projects. With each pass you will learn which things work and which things don't. Managing your strengths and weaknesses is only one part of what you need to be able to do, but at the end of the day any landing you can walk away from is probably a good one.
What do you think? Comment below, I would love to hear your opinions on what to do when you go over the budget.
Creative thinking and development are just a part of what makes James tick. When he's not working on a project for a client, he's usually working on a project for himself. When he's not doing that he can be found snowboarding, hiking, or enjoying a broadway show with his wife.