Use This Paragraph In Your Proposals And Say Goodbye To Scope Creep

Scope creep is awful. We struggled with how to handle it for years at Paper Leaf. It’s a tricky balance, isn’t it? We don’t want to be total doormats, but we’re also terrified to nickel-and-dime the client, or damage the relationship. In my experience, though, most agencies – including us, for a long time – end up on the doormat side, at the expense of our profits and our culture. After all, scope creep places stress on both those things, while also placing stress on the relationship side. Ultimately, scope creep is damaging in every regard in the long run – and running an agency is hard enough already.

Luckily, we’ve come to a good method of handling scope creep, and it’s super straightforward. Here’s how we handle it, so you can handle it too.

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5 Simple Rules For Better Project Communication

Every job posting in the world has “good communicator” as a requirement, and we all think we meet that requirement. We all think we’re great communicators. We cross our Ts, dot our Is, and use proper punctuation. It isn’t that easy though, is it? Being good at communication, especially when it comes to complex projects, is like playing the bass: relatively easy to pick up, and really difficult to master.

The starting point in getting better at project communication is evaluating the effectiveness of your communication efforts. The simplest way I encourage our team at Paper Leaf to do that is to have them ask themselves, Did whomever I was communicating with have follow-up questions or clarifications? If they did, there’s room for improvement. And trust me: every one of us has room for improvement. Except for me because I’m super prefect.

The other side of getting better at communicating is being respectful of people’s time. When we communicate ineffectively, a 2-email chain turns into a 10-email chain plus a phone call – or worse, something gets missed or done incorrectly, and then we’re in rework land. I mean, we’re all busy and that kinda thing drives us nuts, right? When we communicate effectively, we’re more efficient and respectful of people’s time, and our competency shines through.

So let’s talk about how to do that.

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The Simple Change that Helped Our Agency Increase Client Satisfaction and Designer Happiness

I love design.

I love being able to work with smart people to diagnose and solve problems with a dose of creativity. I love the interplay between all the core principles of design. I love constantly needing to learn new things, and put them in to practice. But let’s be honest: design isn’t perfect. Like any industry, along with design come common frustrations – often, frustrations big enough to drive many of us out of our industry.

Think of all the issues that exasperate us as designers – the things we get together and vent about over a pint. How many of us have had clients start playing art director? Delivered something that wasn’t good enough, a product we didn’t want our name on? Built something that has sat there unused? Or had a relationship go sour because of how a project turned out?

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A Month in a Design Agency by the Numbers [Infographic]

I’m a data guy. It took me a while though.

For a long time, Andy & I just operated on feel when it came to Paper Leaf, our design agency. Because it was only the two of us for the first couple of years, we could get away with that – there wasn’t much overhead, and you don’t need that many projects to keep busy when there are only two people.

As we’ve grown, though – we’re at 7 people at the time of this post – I’ve learned to track more & more data about our company. It’s not just that numbers are interesting. Having data means we can spot trends, have measurable goals for the business, and more on a month-to-month basis. There’s a lot you can learn from numbers.

So I’m going to share those numbers with you.

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False Hustle

It’s easy to be busy; it’s hard to be productive, and the two terms are different. Raise your hand if you’ve spent entire days answering “quick” email after “quick” email; spent hours in your task manager organizing your tasks for productivity; spent a half-day organizing tidying up old design files; or looked back on your week and realized you worked your ass off… but you’re not really sure what you actually accomplished.

Bad news, those with raised hands: you’re a victim of false hustle.

Don’t worry… I have been too; everyone falls into the false hustle trap at one point. It’s not intentional – after all, there’s a lot of work to do in a day – but false hustle can torpedo our business goals and ultimately our motivation at work.

Here’s what I mean by false hustle, and how to avoid it.

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