April 10, 2017

“What should I do if the client tells me the budget?”

Reader Martin Bähr wrote in with a question about what to do when a client shares their budget with you up-front.

To paraphrase Martin:

Hi Jonathan, What would you do if a client said something like: “We want to hire you to make our desktop site more mobile friendly and we’ve got a $100k budget to do it.”?

Thanks for the question, Martin!

Here’s my answer...

I would still have a Why Conversation with the client (i.e., try to talk the client out of hiring me) for a number of reasons:

Getting the answer to #3 is the most important. I wouldn’t want to work for six months on the project, only to find that the success of the engagement was going to be judged by someone other than my initial contact — and on a basis that nobody had considered along the way!

I’ve seen this happen...

We work work work... then we finally launch.

Suddenly the “big boss” shows up and is furious that the whole budget was blown on the wrong thing! 😫

In my world (i.e., fixed project prices) this leads to a significant decline in my profits (i.e., lower effective hourly rate) because I have to do a bunch more work without an increase in pay.


Even if the client hands you a giant budget, have a Why Conversation to make sure that you can deliver positive ROI.