It has always been puzzling to me how free many businesspeople are with their time and what a low value they give it. Time is the one thing we all have the same amount of each day, yet many businesspeople seem to lose track of the importance of it.
As stated before, it’s very easy to let your business get out of control and take you over—that is, take up all your time. I believe you have to be firm about the time you’re prepared to commit to your business. If, at the outset, you decide you want to work no more than forty hours per week and have six weeks vacation per year, that’s your decision. You should stick to it all the time, apart from in exceptional circumstances. And even then you have to make sure that “exceptional circumstances” doesn’t gradually change into “everyday circumstances.”
It’s often easier to track your time in consulting than in many other professions. In many cases, you may be building up the costs for a potential project based on how long you think it will take you (as well as a host of other factors). So if you decide that you’ll spend 100 hours on the project at $200 an hour, you may propose a fixed cost of $20,000 for the work. If you track your hours spent when you do the work and find it took 150 hours, you’re effectively working for $133 an hour. You’re not earning any more overall; you’re just eating up time that you could have used for other work. But if you broke your rules, you may have eaten into family time, your weekend, your vacation, or whatever—none of which was part of you plan.
So tracking your time spent is a critical part of consulting, even if you’re only tracking your own time. And anyone who has worked for a consulting company can tell you how they emphasize time management so they can maintain company profit margins. They don’t mind you working on weekends.
Time management is a major way to help you keep your sanity. It also provides you with a lot of useful information about your business. If you track your time and realize you haven’t put any significant effort into sales or marketing recently, you may have been steaming toward the cliff edge without any brakes. And we all know what that means.
Only you know how to break up your week to best effect for your business. And that will vary according to how long you’ve been in business, how successful you are, and a number of other factors. A typical breakdown might look like this:
If you’re starting out and don’t have much work coming in, you may be spending 60 to 80 percent of your time on sales, marketing, and networking. On the other hand, if your business is mature and referrals float in the door regularly, perhaps a couple of hours per week can keep things ticking on the sales and marketing front. Just make sure one sector of the pie doesn’t take over.
The key thing is to ensure you measure your time accurately. If you don’t it’s really tough to know where it’s going.
As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses. Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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