As we look at setting up your business to create more freedom and flexibility in your life, one of the most important areas to consider is how you best make use of your TIME. The reality is that there are only so many hours in the day – in fact, did you know that we all have the same number of hours available?? – and unless (or even if!) you want to work 24/7, 365 days a year, you’ll need to make each hour that you do work count. So, this week, we’re looking and how you can start leveraging your time to create that freedom and flexibility in your business.
What do I mean by ‘leveraging’?
This is one of those awful jargon words that we used to make fun of (and yet use all the time) back in my corporate days. It comes from the idea of using a lever, where you put in a small amount of effort that gets amplified at the other end. When it comes to your business, and to the topic of time, I’m talking about using the time that you have – that we all have – to create a bigger impact in your business.
Before you get to that, you actually can create ‘more time’, up to a point: by automating and creating systems to handle repetitive tasks, by outsourcing or delegating tasks that take up a lot of your time and that someone else can do faster and more cheaply (and, often, also better), and by deleting tasks that don’t add any real value to the business. Once you’ve done this, however, you want to turn your attention to the time that you do now have available and how you can best leverage that time to create better results.
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How to start leveraging your time
1. Review your current client and project list
Having a full client roster is a very good problem to have. However, the fact that you’re busy all the time with clients doesn’t mean that you’re being effective with your time or that you’ll achieve your goals with the business.
When you’re first starting out on your own, you may be tempted to say “yes” to each and every client – and there’s definitely a time for this, as you begin to explore and work out exactly who your ideal clients are, as well as getting more experience and testimonials to build your credibility. However, you must avoid getting caught up with the ‘wrong’ clients in the long term if you’re going to achieve your vision for the business.
Take a look at your current clients and projects, and ask yourself:
- Which of these are driving the most value in the business? (You may have heard of Pareto’s 80:20 principle, where 20% of your customers will represent 80% of your sales.)
- Which types of clients do you most enjoy working with? Where is the best fit with the mission of your business and your personal values?
- On the other hand, which of your clients are contributing the least to your sales and profits? Which types of clients are the most painful to work with, the ones who make unreasonable demands, who require a lot of ‘hand holding’, or are always late with their payments?
Armed with this knowledge, you will want to ‘fire’ some of your ‘bad’ clients – or, at least, say “no” to any new ones of that same kind of profile – to make space for more of your ‘good’ clients. Working with self-motivated clients who respect you and value your work, who collaborate effectively and pay their invoices on time, will ensure that you’re making a bigger impact with less effort on your side.
2. Raise your prices
If you’re finding that your calendar is full, that you can’t take on more clients, and yet you’re not reaching your income goals, then the obvious solution is to raise your prices. While pricing your products and services at the ‘right’ level can be tricky, the truth is that you’re almost definitely undercharging at the moment.
Again, if you have a full roster of clients, then you can afford to raise your prices. You may well lose a few clients – the ones, presumably, that didn’t see the real value in your work – but the higher pricing will make up for the lower quantity of clients.
Pricing is a whole other topic that needs more detail but, for now, consider the following:
- What is your overall target income? This may be based on your current / previous full-time salary, on a bottom-up approach (i.e. how much you need to cover your living costs and business expenses), or on a top-down approach where you identify a dream target income.
- How many billable hours do you have available in your week? How many clients can you take on during this time?
- How much do you need to charge in order to reach your target income with that number of hours and clients? And what would you need to offer in terms of your products and services in order to justify that price?
3. Re-evaluate your business model
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, you want to look at your business model and consider whether or not you’ve designed it to really give you what you want and need. As much as you can play around with optimising the type of clients you work with and what you charge, there’s still a limit to the amount of work you can take on, and therefore the amount of money you can earn, with the limited hours you have in your day.
There are a number of different aspects of your business model that you can tweak and evolve in order to better leverage the time and effort that you’re putting in:
- If you’re working with individuals right now, can you consider instead/also working with companies and organisations? This allows you both to go from one-on-one work to one-to-many, reaching more people with the same amount of time, and to charge higher prices as generally companies are able to pay much more than regular consumers.
- If you’re working one on one with your clients, can you think about launching a group programme where you are able to deliver the same kind of support and results but in a group setting rather than on an individual basis? This has the added benefit of creating a second tier of services that you can offer to the clients who can’t afford your bespoke, one-on-one packages.
- If you’re focusing on ‘active’ service delivery and one-off projects, can you find a way to creative more ‘passive’ streams of income? In reality, no income is completely passive, but how can you better leverage your time to produce evergreen content that you create once but can distribute and sell again and again? This might be in the format of a book, for example, or a self-directed course.
Whether you’re a coach or consultant, or a freelance writer or designer, there are ways in which you can redesign your business model to serve a different kind of client, and to help a greater number of clients, and so have a bigger impact with the same amount of time and effort. It does require a bit of time and energy to take a step back from the day-to-day running of your business and consider your big picture strategy, but it will be worth it in the long run as you shift your business in a more profitable and sustainable direction.
Have a look at your own business, whether you’re a complete newbie or you’re a few years in, and think about which of these strategies you can implement and which tweaks you can make to your business model in order to better leverage your time.
Next week, we’ll dig into the financial aspects of setting up your business to give you that oh-so-appealing freedom and flexibility.
If your calendar is full but you’re not reaching your income targets (or you don’t know what your income targets are!), then get in touch to book a free consultation with me. We’ll look at where you are today in your business, where you might be able to make some tweaks, and how I can support you in creating more freedom and flexibility.