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I am consulting a company on a software subject. I am doing a presentation to explain the basic stuff so the company can decide what they should get and what not. I might become the one to deliver this software. When calculating my costs I assumed to need about 3 days for preparing this presentation and this is the price they pay me. So far I have been working more than 6 days on it.

Should I be open about the time I spent for this presentation or should I keep it a secret? I am not going to demand more money. It's just about the impression I leave.

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I would not tell them if you do not need the money. If you do tell them, they don't get a good impression because:

  • As you mention, they will think you can't estimate correctly.
  • They may think you will be willing to work for free and take advantage later.
  • They won't respect you and your time and take you seriously.

As a result, you may come accross as unprofessional. You want to be professional and the client must respect your time and your opinion.

If the client is a long standing client, there is nothing wrong with giving them a few extra free hours if they are giving you lots of work and you have a good relationship with them.

Ultimately, you are running a business and telling them about this unnecessarily undervalues your ability and professionalism in their eyes. Mis-estimating is a very damaging business practice in the long term and tells the client that you don't know what you're doing. Even if that's true, and it's true for everyone starting out, pretend like you do and you'll get there.

While working hard is a good quality in anyone, it is something people look for in employees more than contractors. For the most part, the client only cares if the work is done on time and the right price. How hard you work to get there is irrelevant. As a result, it's in your interest to work smart.

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Did you set the price ahead? If yes, it's your fault then. You can tell them that you've actually spent double time in preparation and they may offer to pay for that.

If you hadn't set the price ahead, then you should have told them after 3 days that you had spent 3 days already. It's not too late. Tell them now that you spent 6 days already and you need their advise on whether you will continue the work or not.

Estimation is a piece of art and only after a lot of mistakes, you will be able to properly calculate time and buffer.

  • As I wrote its not so much about the money. I am willing to do the extra work. I am more interested whether telling them that I needed more time will make a good or bad impression. Good impression: "Oh, this guy works a lot just to deliver a good product! We'll hire him again" or bad impression: "This guy can't even calculate his time properly. He is probably not well organized. We should look for someone more professional.". – problemofficer May 18 '15 at 17:01

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