My first job was at a cemetery where my aunt was the manager.
I worked full-time during the summer starting when I was 14 years old, and they used an old punch-card system where you entered your time-card (located on the wall), stuck it in a slot, and manual moved a lever to “punch” the date and time on your card.
Punch in when you start, punch out when you go.
How do you use your time?
Yesterday a long-time client of mine asked me a rather pointed question. Frankly, she wondered how I was able to get so much done for her (and presumably my other clients) in so short a time frame. In fact, she asked if I farmed my workout the folks in India.
To her credit, she thought the question sensitive enough to ask if I minded answering.
Of course not. I told her that I handle all work in-house, though I do have a few people who do work for me as part of my virtual team. For example, I use a graphic designer down in Norwalk, CT from time to time, and there’s a woman up in the greater Albany, New York area who writes articles for me when I need them.
Well, I thanked her for her complement and answered her question.
It comes down to “ruthless” time management. The fact of the matter is that I work pretty much work seven days a week, whether that involves working on a new site for a client or working on my “own stuff.”
And for the most part I manage my time wisely.
I use a daily “todo list” that routinely has 15 to 20 items listed on it. I don’t necessarily finish all items in one day, however, so before going to bed I map out the items to work on the following day and prioritize them. Really important items get a red star next to them on the list. If it’s super important I’ll add more stars.
You get the idea…
What’s more, I don’t make, or take, random client phone calls.
Though I do respond to email much quicker since I tend to be in front of my computer a lot (especially these days), calls with clients (and even some prospective clients) are SCHEDULED in advance. And I let clients know up front that they can always call to discuss their site or get answers to their questions, but these calls need to be scheduled in advance.
Is trading time for money really the problem?
Yesterday afternoon I spoke with the gentleman who was referred to me by another happy client.
He’s a member of the National Speakers Association and has a book and 2 DVDs that he wants to sell on his site. After about 20 minutes of reviewing his site with them and addressing how he can best sell products from his site, he mentioned that he eventually wants his site to sell products so that he can supplement his income without “trading time for money.”
Having been self-employed since 2004 the this expression – trading time for money – often comes up as something to be avoided.
Maybe you think this way, too?
Yet, on some level aren’t we all trading time for money? An attorney typically charges by the hour and is often used as the most obvious example of someone who “trades time for money.” And as we approach tax season I’m sure that my CPA also trades his time for money.
But is that really a problem for the entrepreneur?
The work I do on my own sites can also be traced to some level of trading time for money. My lead gen sites continue to crank out leads on a weekly basis, leads that I sell to my customers. If I were to add up all the hours spent on those sites to make them work like clockwork, and then divided that by number by the dollar amount of revenue generated I’m sure it would be easy to calculate a running total of how much those hours have paid off.
And if you were paid $1 million for an hour’s worth of your time would you trade that hour for the $1 million? I think the answer is yes. Most of us would.
And why not?
The service professional’s trap
After those two phone calls I called my good friend Mark Shepherd to share with him the “goings-on” in my business and to hear how he’s been doing.
I’ve known Mark for about seven or eight years… maybe longer.
In fact, Mark has credited me with saving his practice and to some degree his life because about four years ago or so I we did all of his websites, and those websites started generating a steady flow of clients for him. After all, more clients equal more revenue.
As a service professional Mark also trades time for money.
In his case, there’s an hourly rate to work with them though if you sign up for a bigger block of his time you get a discount off his typical hourly rate. And from time to time I am also asked from prospective clients whether I charge in hourly rate, and what that hourly rate might be.
So we both trade time for money.
During our call we shared how we both recently fired a new client. In both cases we decided to work with someone who didn’t fit our “ideal client profile” and who, even after our conversations with them where red flags were raised, decided to work with them anyways.
Those red flag phrases are common to any service professional who is been in business for a while, such as:
- “if you do a good job I will refer a TON of business your way”
- “give me a good price because I plan on doing more work with you in the future”
- not paying the deposit first and insisting they would mail a check soon
Do those comments sound familiar to you as well?
In case you’re wondering why we chose to work with those folks it’s because we both fell into the “nice guy trap.” This trap happens to service professionals who want to “help people” and put their desire for helping people ahead of the business needs of choosing clients wisely.
So I shared with Mark that our problem wasn’t trading time for money, it was wasting time with bullshit.
If you value the services you provide folks AND you charge accordingly for your time (a fair but reasonably profitable rate) there is no problem with trading time for money.
The reality, however, is that so many of us waste our time on bullshit. Giving away our services to those who quite frankly aren’t ready, willing, or able to pay the going rate and follow the protocol of working with us.
Would you like to make more money?
Kind of a dumb question, and incredibly obvious. Yet, the point remains that so many service professionals undervalue their time by wasting it heedlessly and needlessly on those who will never be a good client with their business or their practice. Or on dumb crap that will never add a dollar’s worth of revenue (recurring or not) to their business.
On that note I have a prospective client phone call in 10 minutes so it’s time to wrap up this rant…
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