Plants and clients come in different sizes with different requirements. Knowing how much time a client expects from you can help you evaluate their space in your schedule upfront which will keep clients happy.
Last year, in my enthusiasm, I sowed 30 broccoli seedlings (and many other things). The problem is, a full grown broccoli plant needs about a foot square to be really happy and produce full grown vegetables. My growing space, not including pots, is only about 16 ft squared. Instead of killing off unwanted seedlings (choosing only the healthiest), I put them into pots where they could never really grow. I didn’t have the guts to do the right thing, because they were so beautiful! In the end, I had enough space for about 4 broccoli plants, and then rest finished off their lives small and stunted.
Just like my broccoli, stringing along bigger, good looking contracts that you have no space to take on will make you feel bad, soil your reputation and lead to frustrated clients that deserve the time and space to let their project mature and take shape.
You’ll need to have enough time to check in on clients often, to set deadlines that are both reasonable and doable and a little bit of extra space to surprise them. That’s how you create beautiful portfolio pieces, and start getting the more exciting projects.
If you’ve got lots of requests coming in, have a list of people you know that you feel comfortable passing good work onto. It helps to get to know some people in bigger agencies too, as sometimes projects are just too much for a small business to accommodate in the time frames the client wants (and you probably don’t have the resources to do a good job). Aim to be a little bit bigger than your boots, but not so big that you disappoint clients. They will appreciate your honesty.
Same with clients: When you have limited space you will be more likely to say no upfront (so you are not leading them on) and choose the type of projects that will grow into solid learning experiences, future work and beautiful portfolio pieces.
This will be the beginning of a series of short posts on similarities between gardening and web design business. If you have any good gardening analogies, please let me know for future entries!