Should I go ahead with a small project? Will the overhead be bigger than the gain? Will it be more hassle for less money?
Owners of software agencies like mine often ask these questions. Of course, a big project is a sure thing. Once you’ve landed an enterprise or government giant, you don’t have to worry about resource allocation — your employees will be busy for a long time. You can plan your finances better, knowing there are specific budget and income projection.
That is why many choose to stay away from smaller gigs. Yet are small projects always vain and futureless? And how do you get those big customers instead?
Whenever I hear about a software agency that takes on only big projects, I have two stories to tell:
- The first one is from my own experience running Redwerk. In 2014, a friend from New York asked me to update a page of a retail website he was in charge of, as their developer was away. It was a few-hundred-bucks job, but I wanted to help out. One year later, the company came back and asked to take over their entire web presence. By now, they have spent almost a million dollars with us.
- Another story is from Lisbon, Portugal. At a side event of Web Summit in 2017 in Park bar, I met Brad Parscale, Donald Trump’s digital media director and owner of Parscale Digital agency. His relationship with the Trump Organization started when he created a website for him for just $1,500. He continued doing projects for Trump’s real estate until he was among the first people Trump called when he decided to run for president. During the campaign, Parscale Digital received over $98 million from Trump for its services.
Only imagine the growth: from a few hundred to a million, and from $1,500 to $98 million, simply by building trust and doing the job well!
These are just two examples of how a small project can convert into something bigger, as you gain trust with your customer. Consider the risk of screwing up, which is much lower in case of a small gig. Also, having multiple small customers provides better stability, as opposed to one or two large enterprise accounts. Imagine what happens when one of them, or both, decide to take their business elsewhere — suddenly, you’re out of business. There are way too many cases of poor diversification, which led to dramatic downsizes and layoffs.
Do you agree with that? Has it ever happen to you that you took on a small project that later grew into a million-worth contract?