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The Essential Time Management Question for Entrepreneurs: Are You Paying Yourself $35 An Hour

Jun 26, 2008
Recently I told a friend "Jim" that I was hiring a cleaning service. And I considered hiring a concierge service -- someone who will shop for groceries, pick up my vacuum cleaner at the repair store, and take the dog to the vet for her shots.

"That seems so extravagant!" Jim exclaimed.

Jim works for a generous employer. He gets paid a good salary. But it is a salary. He manages money well, so he realizes he can have more money in the bank if he cuts back on expenses.

Often that is true. Sometimes no matter how hard you work, or how much you produce, you won't make more money...certainly not very much more than the standard raise. Frankly, if you're in that mode, I'd advise some serious career planning, but that's another story.

But if you work for yourself, you can hire help. You're making an investment, not incurring an expense. To make an informed decision, you need to ask questions like, 'What is my hourly rate? What can I do with an hour to bring more revenue?"

Here are 5 scenarios when it makes sense to hire help.

(1) You need to take certain action to bring in a stream of income, and you don't have time to take that action.

For example: You need an hour to write your weekly ezine, but your dog really needs exercise. You hire someone to walk the dog for an hour.

(2) You are truly inept at doing this task so you take twice as long as most people. Completing tax returns, cleaning houses and mowing lawns often fall into this category.

(3) You would have to invest hours -- maybe weeks and months -- to learn a skill that you would rarely use.

Want to write copy for your web site or sales letter? Be prepared to invest substantial amounts of time and money. If you'll be writing often, your investment will pay off.

But you may do better to outsource. You can use the time to bring in more revenue by serving clients.

Many small set-up tasks require a steep learning curve. Examples include moving to a new web host, setting up a shopping cart or creating a blog. You can usually hire a Virtual Assistant who has done this set-up a dozen times. In 15 minutes, she can accomplish a task that would take you several hours to figure out.

(4) You really really hate doing something -- so much that it never gets done. And you can easily afford to hire someone else to do it.

For example, some independent professionals hate to write. They outsource everything from website copy to blog posts to articles.

(5) You can hire someone to complete this task at a fraction of your hourly rate. If you charge $150 an hour and you can get a 2-hour task completed for $70, you are probably making a good investment.

After all, when you choose to run an errand instead of hiring someone for $35 an hour, you are paying yourself $35 an hour.

Do you want to do this? Would you accept a job at this rate?

Sometimes the answer is "yes." For instance, I often want to walk the dog myself. That's why I adopted a dog. I get exercise and a nice break, too.

But saving an hour often gives me more than an hour.

Let's say you go to the grocery store. The round trip takes an hour and worse interrupts your momentum. Depending on traffic, you can lose a whole afternoon.

But maybe you could order groceries. Or you could hire a concierge service (folks who run errands) for $20-$35 an hour. Now you've bought an entire afternoon.

Can you do something to generate $35 new business in that time? I suspect you can.
About the Author
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