A lot of the current wisdom around business tells start-ups to give away as much as they possibly can, and then give away more. This way people will see how much value you bring to the table, and customers will be ready to work with someone they trust.
This advice is solid, and you should give away as much as you can. But there is a second side to the coin that I haven’t heard articulated very much. When you are in business (or in a project) you must consider yourself as a stakeholder of the work. This means that in the same way you consider what all of the other stakeholders need, you must also consider what you need from the project. When you understand what you need from a project or business, you can be very intentional about what you can give away.
If you don’t think about yourself as a stakeholder, what is most likely to happen is that you will give away more than you can afford. When this happens, our natural reaction is to draw back from what we are giving away. We start to look for ways to recoup what we have given away that has crossed the line between what we can afford and what we can’t. And this makes us selfish in our next endeavour. We start to wonder what we can get from the work that we used to give away. We become selfish in the things that we should be giving away.
Win / Win
You must consider yourself an equal stakeholder in the work that you are giving away. Consider your needs, wants, and how you are part of this change in the world. A project manager you know how to help all of the stakeholders work together so that everybody benefits and good work is completed. Don’t leave yourself out of the stakeholder equation.