If You Aren’t Tracking Your Time You’re Leaving Money On The Table

If You Aren’t Tracking Your Time You’re Leaving Money On The Table

If You Aren’t Tracking Your Time You’re Leaving Money On The Table

 

While business is about so much more than money, if your business isn’t making money, it’s an expensive hobby and not a busines. As a Solopreneur or small business owner, if you aren’t tracking your time you’re leaving money on the table. This article explores why time tracking is important in business and life, and how you can make sure that you are being paid for all of the work you do.

 

Losing track of time is a hazard of working in our zone of genius and doing what we love.

 

If you utilize a pricing model that includes retainer fees, this can start to feel like your undoing. The clients retainer hours get eaten up without your realizing it. This often leads to feelings of guilt, fear, and more. Guilt possibly because we feel like we wasted our clients’ time and money (even though we know this ISN’T true, we often fight our own processes wishing they didn’t take so long). Fear of possibly being considered unprofessional when we report back their hours for the month are gone already and it’s only the 6th. These feelings often result in not charging your clients for research, prep time and/or work done because of how it made you feel. We project our feelings on to customers without even consulting them to find out how they do feel about the situation.

It’s no different if you charge hourly or by the project. It’s often too late that you realize you have spent far more time than you allowed for in your quote. Enter feelings of guilt, fear and more. Fear of looking unprofessional. Fear or having to go back to your client to say the actual cost is going to exceed the quoted cost, why and by how much. Instead many business owners choose to eat the cost, vowing next time to quote better.

Except it isn’t that simple, when the cause is an inaccurate perception of time.

 

Have you done your due diligence at a minimum of twice a year, every year and tracked your time for at least two weeks?

If you haven’t, when you are quoting your clients you’re likely to be quoting them based on feelings as opposed to facts. You feel it is a simple job and quote accordingly. You feel it should only take two hours and you quote accordingly. Shoulds have no place in business or life, and the word only minimizes everything that comes after it. Ideally our decisions are a combination of facts and feelings.

Too many business owners look at the results of their time tracking in disbelief. It’s often an eye opening exercise when we now have facts to base decisions on. For many it’s easy to see why, where and how they are losing money when you are looking at the cold hard facts before you.

You work too hard, to not be paid for all you do.

 

We consistently underestimate how much we can accomplish in an hour, a morning, a day, a week and in a month.

This impacts our quotes and billing the same as above but it also impacts our income in other more indirect ways.

When we cannot live up to our own expectations, it impacts our self-esteem.

Self-esteem is made of our: self confidence (confidence in our own abilities), self worth (our perception/beliefs in relation to our own value), self image (how we perceive our abilities, appearance), self-concept (which is our perceived self; what we think we are, what we think we can achieve, what we think others think of us, and what we would like to become) which of course impacts our internal dialogue (thoughts, feelings, self talk).

Notice the phrasing, I said ”We cannot live up to our own expectations.” It’s important to note that it is a can’t and not a won’t. It isn’t that we aren’t focused enough, or that we don’t want it enough.

Our inaccurate perception of time causes numerous problems. The most obvious are not knowing what we can accomplish in a given period of time, setting unrealistic expectations and not accurately charging. The not so obvious are the self-esteem and mindset issues that can result. The internal dialogue of thoughts and feelings impact our business at every level. They often prevent us from taking the necessary risks (where growth occurs). Thus we get stuck both personally and professionally.

The Answer Is both simple and complex for most Squirrels.

 

We need to track our time. We need to know how long things truly take so that we can charge accordingly and actually get paid for our time.

Note: Two weeks can provide the minimum data needed, but four weeks tends to be more precise. In fact if you can make this a habit, that is best. Then you can make adjustments on the fly because you always have data available for analysis.

If you simply hate time tracking, won’t commit to making it a habit, and your business does not require you to track actual time spent then complete this exercise as needed. The biggest reason I recommend this is life and business change (stress levels,children’s needs change, relationships, difference in the number of active clients you now have etc.). Time tracking is key for: scheduling your time, quoting, billing, get paid for all the work you do, not to mention it’s an important part of the equation for setting prices.

 

How To Tell Time Tracking Is Required:

1. Your quotes are off and it’s consistently taking longer to do things than it did when you tracked your time last.

2. Your to-do list items are being moved from one day/week to the next.

Squirrels and traditional time tracking apps often run into problems. While no App is perfect, PayDirt App is the closest this Squirrel has found to Squirrel Proof.

paydirtapp.com was built with Squirrels in mind and is Drunk Squirrel Approved!

PayDirt App Includes:

A built in Chrome extension for intelligent reminders: just to make sure your still working on the same project.

One click time tracking: it allows us to start tracking time 5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes in the past because we forgot to start the timer.

They offer a free trial of all their plans: the plans for $8 and $16 per month are more than enough for Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners.

 

Time For Analysis

We can also use this data to analyze what tasks take the most of our time. Often tasks that take the longest are the ones we dislike the most!

Questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

Do I love this task?
Is it directly or indirectly related to a product or service that I offer?                                                 If I don’t love it and it’s part of my products or services why am I offering it?                           Can it be delegated or outsourced?

Example: If I were a copywriter, I may look at the four blog posts I wrote during my two weeks of tracking. The first post took 2 hours, the second 45 minutes, the third took 3.25 hours and the fourth took 1.75 hours.

The first question I need answered is around the 45 minute post. Why only 45 minutes? Turns out I know the subject matter well, and it was only 500 words as opposed to my 1,000 word usual posts. With that information I can remove it from my calculations.
3 blog posts at 2.00+3.25+1.75 = 7 hours, 7 hours divided by 3 = 2.33 hours. My average 1000 word blog posts takes on average 2.5 hours.

This allows me to use that information for knowing how much time to block out when writing a blog post. It’s part of the info needed for determining accurate pricing and quotes. I may realize I hate writing blog posts, and they take up a lot of my time. Which means I would reassess why I offer blog posts as part of my services. If it’s because others do, or I should … remove it from your services and packages …now. It’s not doing you any favours!

 

Take It A Step Further

Don’t stop at tracking your time only for business, track your time from wake up to bedtime. Learn where your actions say your priorities are.

How are you choosing to spend your time?
Who are you spending it with, doing what?

So many of us built our businesses to allow us the flexibility they provide in order to accommodate our priorities and values. These priorities are often: children, spouses, family, friends, ourselves (health, wellness, happiness). Too often the way we actually spend our time does not reflect these values and priorities.

Tracking your time allows you the insight into how you choose to spend your time in business and in our personal lives. Once know the facts, we have the ability to adjust if necessary.

Have you ever completed time tracking in your business and/or personal life? Did it hold any surprises? Did you make changes as a result? I’d love to hear your experience!

Do You Need A Business Strategy?

What’s Your Business Strategy?

 

 

Business Strategy is one of the buzz words/phrases that I mentioned in the article Don’t Have A Business Plan?  It’s a term that gets thrown around and used interchangeably with Business Plan far too often. It’s a word that can make business feel confusing, hard, and overwhelming.
 
In reality, Business Strategy doesn’t have to be any of those things. Moving your business forward with intent rather than flying by the seat of your pants, means you have a plan. Without a plan, we often chase our tails going in circles, and we become lost without direction. We stagnate, stay stuck and our business suffers. When we have a plan, feelings of being overwhelmed, self-doubt, and anxiety related to our business lessen significantly. 
 
What is Business Strategy?
 
Business Strategy is a well thought out plan for how you will achieve your goal and meet your objectives. It’s comprised of combining several different types of strategies, and by practical actions taken to bring your business’s vision to life. I know you’re likely thinking that for your one woman show or small business that all this talk is overkill. Take a deep breath and stick with me.
 
The Big Picture
 
Strategy is simply having a plan for how you are going to do things. A small business yes, even a one women show, has many different objectives. Multiple objectives means needing different approaches (strategies) to achieve those objectives.  
 
Over All Business Strategy (Top Level Strategy)
 
How are you going to earn/sustain, scale and grow your profits? 
Most businesses know how they plan for their business to make money and what their initial offers will be. However little thought is given to actual growth and scalability.

Growth Strategies

 
Increase Your Share of Your Current Market: 
a)  Expansion/Development Market
The business offers the same products/services and expand their reach into a new market. This is often effective for those who started out with a very narrow niche.
b) Expansion/Development Products and Services 
The business finds complimentary products to add to their existing product line. Adds new features to existing products. Offers new and complimentary services. All products and services desgiend for and offer solutions to the same target market.
 
 
Market Segmentation is about understanding the differences in your ideal clients:  Is there a way to further break down your ideal clients that allows you to deep dive their needs?
 
As a business coach who focuses on business owners that need to harness their inner “Drunk Squirrel” there are many ways for me to segment my market. I can break my clients into the following categories:
Just starting out.
I’ve been in business a while but something isn’t working.
I’ve been in business a while and want to take things to the next level and I get overwhelmed thinking about it.
Living the dream, Life & Business are better than I could have imagined.
 
Segmenting allows for a deep dive into each category assessing and looking for common challenges. Once we find the common problems, we look for how we can solve those problems. Thus allowing buisness’s to expand within their current market in unique ways.
 
 
Strategic Partnerships: Partnering with other like mind business owners. Projects, products, services, cross promotion of each others businesses etc. 
 
Selling online/offline 
 
Networking in person and online