Learning From Failure (2021 Year in Review)
Patrick Labbett • February 7, 2022general
It's now February 2022, and I finally finished my analysis of work from 2021. Everyone talks about how failure is the mother of success or failure is not an option - but no matter what your philosophical approach to failure might be, it still hurts every time you experience it.
Custom web-development cost me over 300 hours of un-billed work in 2021.
The un-billed time came from the following sources:
- Not managing client expectations and timelines
- Under-estimating the skill/time combination required for the project
- Trying to fix these mistakes without billing the client
- Providing free support for work I did years ago (and no service contract in place)
This more or less put me in an endless-loop of finding work to make up the lost revenue from spending time on projects that I wasn't billing for. This wasn't tenable for me or my client, and it ended how you would expect.
The un-billed time required me to find and make up the lost revenue elsewhere.
There was also a noticeable effect on my general response time for other customers, as I had dedicated so much time trying to make things right on these web-development projects.
I've learned that in order to offer custom web-development for new projects, I would have to charge a much higher project fee - enough to ensure cash-flow throughout the development process. And this is something I've always been at odds with since keeping development low-cost and accessible was important to me.
Today's technology stacks and the security considerations required to actively develop and maintain a modern web app is incredibly complex - it's closer to infrastructure engineering than it is of the design-heavy website theme-ing work of the past.
I think at this point, focusing on making my 1st-party projects profitable is a better use of my time over trying another custom web-development project.
So here's what I've come up with:
- Temporarily stop offering custom web-development for full-blown web applications (until I otherwise have a plan of attack)
- Require any support work to have a service contract or paid Call Theory subscription
- Focus my web-development towards 1st-party projects, like WCTP-gateway and my call center dashboard
- Market the billable services around my open-source and 1st-party projects more effectively (i.e., make them profitable)
Hopefully these changes will allow for higher client-satisfaction and more efficient revenue generation moving forward. Basically, I can focus on the IT/engineering and security work that makes up the bulk of my service offerings, while not getting bogged down on projects I'm not equipped to handle in a timely manner.