Fast, Good, Cheap. Pick any two.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: the work you do for your clients can be good, fast and cheap – but usually only two of the three.

Getting stuck on a project that requires you to work to a high standard, tight deadline and limited budget is a sure fire way to lose out on a job.

This mantra is as old as the hills, but I love it because it’s simple, totally honest, and even the more demanding clients I’ve dealt with are usually totally responsive to the rational:

If your work is good and fast it’s unreasonable to expect it to be cheap. Producing high quality work on a tight deadline requires considerable expertise and dedication. That doesn’t come cheap.

If your work is fast and cheap it’s unreasonable to expect it to be very good. If your client needs something put together quickly, and for little cost, fine. But it’s unlikely to be your best work.

If your work is cheap and good it’s unreasonable to expect it to be completed fast. You can make something of high quality, and work within a tight budget. If you do, though, the project will probably have to take a lower priority to higher paying jobs. Expect the timeline to reflect this.

And that’s it. If a client demands a quality result for little payment on a tight deadline, explain that you can help them out with two of those needs – they can choose which.

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