How you can plan so that time equals money

Plan time moneyHave you ever been lectured about pricing?  Or do you have to work for a fixed fee that you didn’t negotiate?  I’ve done both.  The benefit of being self-employed is that you can set your own prices.  Of course, you might have a client who wants to negotiate but ultimately it’s up to you whether you take the work or not.

The truth is that dealing with either situation requires proper planning.  That could be at the beginning before you issue a quote.  Or you might have to do it when you’re presented with a task that has a time and/or cost limit imposed.

Financial planning

If you’re a sole trader or a new start up, listen up.  I’ve yet to meet a business coach who won’t tell you this, so I’m passing it on.  You need to know your costs.  If you create anything or offer a service you need to know what goes into making that happen.  It could be the cost of your materials, travel expenses or the childcare you need to give you some peace and quiet.  Have you factored in the cost of your phone or web hosting?  How much do these things cost you each month or for each finished product?  You’d be amazed at how many people find that they’re working at a loss because they haven’t covered their expenses.

I’m hoping that if you’re an established business you’ve survived because you’ve already worked this out.

Your. Time. Isn’t. Free.

I’m at risk of making this my catchphrase but you are a business expense.  You might be doing something that you would do for free, but if you want to make a living out of it, you can’t work for nothing.

This can slightly feel as if you’re sticking your finger in the air.  Try using minimum wage as a starting point and work up until you’re comfortable.

Once you’ve done all that you can send out a quote that covers your costs and the time you’ll spend doing the work.

Plan your time

You need to plan your time whether you’re quoting a price or working to a specified fee.  First, you need to be absolutely clear on what needs doing.  Sometimes that means making an educated guess.  When I take on a new piece of work I have a fairly clear idea of how long the actual writing will take. I’ll also factor in time for doing background research and dealing with any follow up queries or amendments.  Of course, sometimes the research is more complex than I anticipated.  So far I haven’t had any clients who are always on the phone but it’s bound to happen one day!  Equally, there might be factors involved that you can’t control.

By contrast, if someone orders 50 widgets and you know exactly how much work that involves and how long it will take, the process is much simpler.

If you’ve been given a fixed price, planning is even more important.  How many hours work does the fee allow for? Can you get everything done within that time?  You might be able to delegate to someone whose time is less expensive than yours.  Whilst you shouldn’t compromise on quality there might be quick ways to do things that speed the process up.

How do you plan your work?  Drop me a comment and let me know!

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