My friend Jeff is a great salesperson. He spends time really getting to know his clients and finding out exactly how to best meet their needs. People love him! He has no shortage of returning clients and a steady stream of referrals.
The problem? He is great with sales and helping people, but not so great at understanding how valuable his time is worth. For as much as he works, he should be making far more money than he does.
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people, but you must make sure that you are getting paid for your efforts. For instance, have you ever had a client that was a problem child? And, let me guess, they were not one of your biggest clients, either? Right?! So that is an example of when you need to examine your return on your investment (ROI) and make sure the effort is worth the pay. If you don’t claim what your ROI should be, then no one will!
Do you sometimes struggle with how to obtain the best return on your investment? Are you getting back what you are putting into others and using your time wisely? Make sure you are doing all you can to ensure your best ROI!
You need to start with a PLAN, know your goals and know what you want to get from your work, life, income, etc. You need to clearly measure what you are spending your time on each day and what is bringing in the most profit for you. This goes beyond just knowing your worth like I talked about in a different blog.
Keep a spreadsheet. Track your money spent, time spent and income at every stage of client development. Make sure that what you are pouring into is bringing in a profit.
Tracking your time for everything you do for a client, including last-minute changes, answering emails, etc… will help you plan. You may be spending far more time on certain projects than you ever realized. If that is the case, make sure you make adjustments in the future and change the estimates you originally offer your clients or change your own client engagement practices to increase your ROI.
Set a standard.
Know what your time is worth and look at ways to make sure you are getting your ROI from every second of your day. If you are doing tasks that are not bringing you that ROI, then can you delegate them? Raise fees? Change systems?
Are you using your time wisely? Schedule your day to make sure all your responsibilities get done but your most important tasks take top priority.
Also, try to prevent interruptions. These can distract you from your focus and cause more work getting your brain back on track. Instead of stopping everything to respond every time you get an email, maybe wait and check emails at the top of the hour.
When you are working for one client, finish those tasks before moving on to the next. This way you can best utilize your time and energy and get the best ROI for each project.
About those boundaries…
What sorts of things do you want to be available for? It is up to you to say no to ongoing support questions or meetings where people just want to pick your brain but not pay you for the expertise you give them. Decide what you will do for free. A consultation? An introductory meeting? Maybe it’s nothing. You decide what works best for you.
The truth is, you offer value! People want your advice because you have a depth of knowledge in your field. So how do you balance that compliment with getting paid for your time? Evaluate whether it is worth it to meet someone for lunch and share your wisdom for free. Possibly it isn’t. Or possibly, they have a wealth of referrals to draw from and investing a little time for free will pay off in the long run.
You can say no. And you can charge for your time. Your time and resources are valuable! Communicating to others that you do not give away things for free will only motivate them to see the deep benefits you offer.
Not all client relationships will be worth your time and energy. You are valuable and you deserve compensation for your contributions. Evaluate, prioritize and move forward with the expectation of great success for your business! You will get the best return on your investment!