Hi, this is Laura!
Today, I've been giving a lot of thought to how time is money, and that I need to budget my time - just like I budget the money I spend, and all the tangible things I need for my business. So there are really two things that make up cost for my business and one is all of the tangible things it takes for me to run that business and execute that business.
And the other is my time.
* Full transcription below *
So let's start with - Wow, it's tax time! I just had a chance to review 2019 and it was easy for me to see where I spent my money. I had capital equipment costs on a new phone, printer - it could have been for somebody else a new car. Also, all consumable supplies we all use, right? That would be toner and paper, and gas for the car and new tires!
Then there were lots of services that I use. So I've got a phone plan and an internet plan. I have car maintenance going on. I've got advertising on directories, I've got insurances - for notary insurance, car insurance, health insurance. Let's not forget we have memberships! I've got the chamber, the NNA, Sign and Thrive, the Better Business Bureau, and other networking groups. And then there's notary specific costs like the cost to get my commission -and if you're in California, it is a pretty penny! Also, the tools to do the job. And then the certifications for specialties and renewals. There's other expenses as well. But I think you get the idea.
Where I really want to focus is the thing that is not too easily tracked for me and that is my time. So there's direct time that I can account for and that's in accepting and preparing for the job, the travel time back and forth to the job table. Time to do the job, wrap up time, invoice time. All of these are directly related to doing the job. Sometimes it's chasing the payment time, data entry, filing of receipts. Oh my God, let's not forget rework. All of that can pretty much tie to the jobs.
But there's much more than that going on. I have indirect expenses of my time or un-billable time as I like to call it. So what about the time I spend crafting my communications? Designing and writing my thank you cards and postcards and social media posts and the ones that I read and the texts and the emails. What about the signage and my business cards? I participate in meetups and other networking groups. Video calls, conferences, symposium. I speak at other conferences. I go out to title companies, attorneys, offices, hospitals to build face to face time to build relationships.
I do research on business, on notary law! I even make calls to the hotline, to my own coaches. I read articles, I watch YouTube videos. Oh my gosh, I have time spent in class to get the commission, to get this certification, and renewal exams. I need to evaluate what's working and what's not working based on my own business performance stats. Now some might refer to this as overhead costs.
This time is more about sharpening the saw, so to speak. So building my expertise, my visibility in my own industry. And this is essential in order for me to sustain a level of workload and build that workload once it's been established. Considering that this is an investment in my future workload! I might think that this time is free, but really it's not. There's a cost associated to my time, the cost of what I'm not doing when I'm doing this.
So it's important that any task or activity I'm involved in, that I'm getting some kind of result from that. So is it possible to spend too much time on these activities? Well, you'll have to identify first, where are you spending your time and then observe what do you get back from it? Questions I ask myself would include when I go to hospitals and title companies and attorney companies - do I see something happening? Am I building a relationship? Do I get new work from that? When I watch a video, a YouTube video, or I participate in a video call, did I learn something new that I can use to fine tune my business, to grow my business, or to increase the skills that I have. When I attend a networking group, did I make a new connection? Did I identify opportunities to collaborate with somebody? And then - I follow up with that?
Does the certification or certifications (I have three of them that I hold) - do they help me get more work? Do they make me a stronger notary? How to receivers of my correspondence and visits react to my thank you and my reminders of my visibility to that - and my availability to them?
And what about social media? You know, there's an up and a down with that social media! Time I spend posting reading, am I getting answers to questions I'm asking? Am I giving valuable information to something that somebody else has asked or am I just repeating what somebody else said? Time spent on any of these activities must have purpose and must give us a payback or a result that moves us forward.
So how do I get my hands around that? Well, start with just tracking your time on a calendar or a journal so you can identify what it is you are doing and about how much time you might be spending. Do it for a week and then pull up all the activities that are worked directly. This is directly related to the work that I'm doing. And that would leave your un-billable time. So how much time do I spend that I can identify? And of course there are some projects I work on that take months and even year, a whole year to work on. And that's important. I have short term and I have long term projects. But other times I might notice that I'm participating in something that's not really helpful and I need to minimize or stop that so that I can create time for something more beneficial to me and my business.
Gosh, I love getting into the creative side, the social side, and the exciting side of my business growth. But I cannot forget to make sure that my time is budgeted just like my money. If I don't want to spend every waking hour working! I mean, why do we work? I want to have freedom, time freedom, so I can do the things I enjoy. I want to have money freedom so I can afford to go do those things.
So I need to budget my un-billable time. And I start with identifying what it is. Then I track how long I'm spending on it, and then I start evaluating what am I getting.
So I hope this was enlightening for you and worth your time to watch that video that I just created.
Until the next time, make it a good one!