Small Business
Business INSIGHTS e-News for Professional Services
Are You Ready to Take on Special Projects?

How to evaluate and execute a job that falls slightly outside of your expertise.

When opportunity knocks, is your firm prepared to answer the door? Special projects from existing clients can be a lucrative source of revenue, but they can also be challenging to manage, since the project often requires deviating from your area of expertise. When evaluating whether or not a special project makes sense, ask yourself:

  • Can my employees or I quickly gain the skills and knowledge needed to meet the project requirements?
  • Who will manage the project and make sure it stays on schedule and budget?
  • How will I price it?

If you decide to take on the project, consider the following tips to help you prepare and make the most of singular business opportunities.

Find the Expertise
Ideally, someone in your firm already has the skills needed for the project. If not, train someone in those skills or hire a freelancer. Hiring freelancers (and making sure that you abide by the IRS rules for paying independent contractors) allows you to bring specialized knowledge to one-off projects.

Put Someone in Charge 
Staffing for special projects can be tricky. Often employees are asked to take on or manage a special project in addition to their daily responsibilities. The result can be that neither job is done satisfactorily.

A special-project coordinator with supervisory and project-management experience ensures that a job is completed on time and on budget. If the volume of your special project doesn't support hiring a full-time or part-time coordinator, consider contracting with a temporary employment agency to bring in a project coordinator for the length of the project.

Prepare a Realistic Quote
You have a good idea of how many hours it takes to perform recurring firm services such as tax-return preparation. For special project, the tendency is to underestimate the amount of time and resources the project will require, causing you to underbid the project. If the special project is for a client you've never worked with before, it's tempting to quote a lower price in order to win the business. Charging by the hour ensures that you get paid for the actual work your firm performs.


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