In the beginning of this year I finished my first big project as a web designer. I didn’t know up front how much time, energy and focus it will take, but it was certainly a lot more than I expected. 😀 I am happy I had no clue, otherwise Iwould have freaked out.
When I first landed that job I was still working for another company as full time employee. I wasn’t feeling very well those weeks, things got out of control and I felt even more that my future and plans are not in alignment with what the company wanted. I was already working on my business, but haven’t actually started making money. I offered free webdesign consultation to gain experience and it turned out that one of them wanted me to redesign her website.
I was over the moon in happiness about it. I have to admit, I had a lot of doubts,though, I wasn’t sure if I am ready (I certanly didn’t feel so), I was afraid I won’t be able to handle it, know what to do. But I was happy, excited and it felt like an amazing opportunity to finally start some serious business.
Just to make things more exciting (or overwhelming) I have changed companies, so I ended up being a novice at a whole different position, but it was a great opportunity both professional and personal wise.
Suddenly my well thought routine fell off the vagon and I had to figure out how to manage a new position, get to know new people and have energy to do my side gig after work. It felt super tiring.
I questioned my abilities several times and had huge fights with my ego over my capabilities, my commitment to any of these things. Suddenly I felt like a little girl who wants to hide under the blanket.
By the time I finished my project, I was over my probation period as well and I learnt so much during this time that I want to share with you. There are 5 main lessons I learnt in my first web design project:
- Start before you are ready
- Set you intentions every morning
- Use a project management tool
- Revise priorities every single day if necessary
- Overdeliver, always
Start before you are ready
When I started my first project I literally had no idea how to do it. I have already created 2 websites for myself, I passed the Webdesign course and I just started my business. But that was it.
I had no experience in talking to a client, setting up someone else’s account or how to even create a contract. Even though I felt the happiest person on earth when my first client hired me, it also freaked me out like hell. I was scared that I mess up things, I will make fun of myself and I am just really not capable to handle such a huge project. These mixed feelings followed me on the journey all along, but I learnt some tricks how to handle them.
I was a novice, but I didn’t want to show it. I knew I had what it takes in me to push things forward, but the voices (aka my ego) kept telling me that I am not prepared for this.
I am really happy that I didn’t listened to those voices and even though there were days when they were louder, I learnt how to deal with them.
Back then I was reading and learning a lot about this idea of starting before you are ready. The biggest impact came from Marie Forleo and her online business school, called B-school that I joined in 2019.
I could not really imagine, how could someone start something big without being prepared – but shortly I learnt it by myself. When I got my first client it just felt so right to say yes to the opportunity that in the moment I had no doubts I will be able to do that.
There were several ups and downs during the process. Even thouh I planned how to roll out the website, there were always some obstacles that kept pushing me back. Yes, it was hard to keep up the motivation when the whole website crashed again and again. I started judging and doubting myself and I questioned again and again if I am the right person for this.
Then I got Marie’s book, Everything is figureoutable and it was a game changer for me. I already had this idea in my head, that it doesn’t matter how, but I will always find a solution, but it never was so intentional before. This book gave me the courage and the strenght to push myself forward.
Ever since I read that book, I tell myself every morning after my meditation that Everything is figureoutable 5 times. And it works.
Suddenly all the issues I faced with the website were easier to manage. When I faced an issue, my freaking out time was reduced and I instantly knew that even though I might not see the solution yet, I will definitely find it. And so it happened. Every single time.
It helped me changing my full time job meanwhile. It helped me when my new phone broke to pieces after 3 weeks of buying it and it helped me when I broke my keys into the post box.
For me starting before I was ready showed me a great lesson: when you feel that you want something really hard and you finally get the opportunity, take it. Do not let your ego outtalk you of it, do not let self-judgement and self-doubt come forward. Learn how to handle your thoughts and find a mantra that will help you stay focused, calm. That could even be Everything is figureoutable.
Set your intentions every morning
I am that kind of person who doesn’t wait until January to set up goals. I am always coming up with new goals, tasks and the same happened last year in October. That is the time in a the year where I feel like I have around 3 months to achieve something still and finish the year with confidence.
I was looking for a planner that could help me keep my tasks on track, but the regular planners start with the beginning of the year. After several research and failed intentions, I realized that I could purchase Brendon Bruchard’s High performance planner.
My main reasons were – that he is one of the best life and business coaches; his book is really good and made me change some of my habits; the planner is not tight to a specific month or date, so you can start whenever it feels ready for you and I thought, why not learn from one of the best and see what would be the outcome.
I purchased the 6 part High Performance planner and it was a total gamechanger for me.
I already read in his book about the main questions you should ask from yourself every day – like
- who need my on my A game;
- what situation could frustrate me and how would I handle it,
- whom should I surprise with a thank you card, etc.
I started to ask myself these questions while going to work, but that wasn’t as effective as actually sitting down every morning and thinking it through.
Writing things down helps me remember them a lot more, so I did it every day.
What I noticed was that
• My days were more intentional than before
• I paid more attention to people and the way I interact with them
• I could handle stressful situation with more ease
• I was more present and joyful
• I could connect with people more easily
• I could get more tasks done
These are just the main outcomes I noticed after doing the excercises every day, but there is a lot more to it. The part where you reflect on your energy, menthal state, productivity, clarity, necessity in the evening made me think about my day differently. And I felt the need to pay more attention the next day to be able to feel that i did my best and I can score 5 on the performance review.
For me it is not just about the tasks to get done. I have hundreds of lists in my head what should be done and by when and it certanly freaks me out sometimes, because I feel like I am never done, there is always something more to do. Doing the excercises in the High Performance planner helped me prioritize and focus on those that would bring me joy and make me feel that I have accomplished something. It made me be more intentional and honestly, going through my neverending list seems a lot more fun when I focus on feeling good meanwhile and serving others.
Use a project management tool
Speaking of neverending lists…I used to write ideas and tasks on post its when I was in college, back when the online tools were not so fancy. It helped me keep track of the things I had to get done and it does feel good when you tick of something from the list.
The disadvantage was obviously that there were post its everywhere and it was hard to know which one belongs to which topic and I should have carried them with me to remember what else should be done; also it was easy to loose those tiny colorful papers.
Nowadays there are so many tools you could use to keep track of your to do lists and they are easy to use. Amazing. I am really impressed of how this developed and how much help it means when you have a lot going on.
I use Asana to keep tarck of all my tasks.
In the beginning of my first project I didn’t realize how important was to have one tool where I have everything written down. I used emails, shared docs, word and a notebook but it never was up to date and was hard to keep track of each tiny task.
Revise priorities every single day if necessary
Not sure how is it for you, but I certainly have days when even though I planned my priorities up front something kicks in and suddenly nothing is ever the same.
In the beginning of 2019 these days took me off track and I felt in a huge chaos where I had no idea which way to go, what to do first and usually those days ended kind of disappointing to me, because I couldn’t finish my planned tasks.
Being an entrepreneur thought me several new habits and tools I can use now on daily basis and one of them is to review my priorities every day. It can happen any day that the tech gods are not in favor of our work, so instead of spending 2 hours on a task, you end up with 8 hours of stressful struggle. And yepp, those days can feel like your productivity is way below your expectations.
It took me a while, but I learnt that instead of beating up myself up when this happens, I could actually reorganize my tasks.
It doesn’t matter if you use a planner or a project management tool, maybe an Evernote to do list. The goal here is to break down every task into little pieces so you can separate them. When you break down each big goal to tiny steps you have the power to oversee which task could be delayed in case of emergency.
For example, I planned to finish a 1 hour job for my client, but the system crashed and I ended up fixing the whole website. This certainly was an unexpected situation and I could not work on my other tasks, like the blog post writing or planning my next day. I knew that this fix would take more hours and I would be way too tired to focus on my tasks after I finish.
What I did was, I took a few minutes off the screen (like a one step back), took some deep breaths and thought it through: Fixing this issue for my client is a must, so it got up to the first place on my list. It could take hours, so I won’t have time to finish my tasks. Writing a blog post and planning my day can be rescheduled to the next morning when I am done with the emergency and got some rest. They are still important to be done, but I moved them from the stressful situation to a more calm place where I can focus more.
This technique helps me to reorganize and re-priotize my tasks easily and it gives me some breathing room too.
One thing I learnt – over many – since I started my business is that if you want to have clients and make money, you need to overdeliver, always. You might wonder, why give more when people are already paying for your services? Well, there are a couple of reasons:
- Unless you have a niche product or service, your competitors are likely offering similar services to yours, which means it is harder to make a difference. If you overdeliver on your promises, your clients will notice and will definitely hire you for the job knowing that they will get more value for their money.
- When you give more to your clients than what they expect, they will feel more special, treated better than what they expected – and who doesn’t want to feel special? Giving them this feeling of special treatment, kind of luxury sense will increase their satisfaction – which will lead to more offers, more job and eventually more money in your pocket.
- When they feel treated differently and special, they will likely talk about you and your service to their friends, business partners – that could lead to more clients
- They will likely recommend your services to others, with similar business needs which could also mean more clients to you.
- They will get this sense of surprise, special gift – and who doesn’t like a free gift? With this feeling in their mind they will look at your services as something totally worth the value. Do you ever have the feeling of luck when you pay for something and you get extra free gifts? Make them have the same experience when being in contact your brand. Make them think that they spent their money on the right person, that your services are totally worth the price.
- Overdelivering will increase your confidence, because you know you gave more than expected and you could deliver more than what your client was waiting for. You made them happy, satisfied which will give you more condifence in your business and everyday life.
- Overdelivering will increase the value of your brand – when the word spreads about your valuable services, you will get hired by more clients, who seek for the same treatment, who will spread the word even more -leading to increase your brand identity and value.
- Overdelivering will teach you how to handle your tasks in a more productive way, you will know what are your client’s special needs, how to include them in your tasks, timeline and what is a must that should be delivered as minimum expected value.
Now, it’s time for you. What did you learn from your very first project? What was the biggest takeaway?
I’d love to read your stories.
Leave a comment and let me know.