What Is Your Time Worth?

I don’t like to take risks.

I also haven’t had my own business for very long, so I’ve felt like every penny I made had to be sealed away in a vault for safekeeping in case I’d wake up one morning and have no writing assignments, no consulting clients, and no speaking engagements.

Mentors told me I needed to invest in my business, but I didn’t really listen. The thought of parting with any of my hard-won cash made me feel a little sick. What if I didn’t get that money back?

So even as my business grew, I did everything myself. And I mean everything. If a book needed to be overnighted to a new contact, I ran to the post office over lunch. I learned the rules of small business accounting. I became a scheduling pro.

In the last year, I decided to develop two workbooks for my corporate seminars on recruiting and retaining members of the Millennial Generation. I designed the first one myself. It looked pretty decent – after all, I do have a modicum of talent when it comes to print design. The only trouble was, all the formatting and tweaking and formatting and tweaking some more took me 22 hours over the course of a week.

Online print firms charge about $200 to design the same type of workbook. My hourly consulting rate is $100, so I spent $2200 of my own time.

That was when I realized that doing any and all tasks myself to save a few bucks was actually harming my business. I could have been spending those 22 hours fostering new client relationships, or improving the ones I already have. These are the relationships that allow me to do what I do, and without them, I wouldn’t have the freedom to do the work that’s personally meaningful to me. Things needed to change.

So for the next workbook, I decided to get smarter. I let an online firm handle the design. They finished the project in a week, and it looked just as nice as the first one. I saved $2000. And incidentally, this $2200 figure doesn’t take into account the speaking engagements I do every other week, which command a much higher hourly rate. So if I had used the workbook design time to secure additional speaking gigs, I would have saved thousands more.

Even if for some reason I didn’t care about the clients or the money, my 21 month old son would love to spend 22 hours with me. I would take him to the park and music class. I would watch him run around the Chicago Children’s Museum squealing with excitement. I would pocket the memories of these hours, because he’s never going to be 21 months old again.

You all are just as busy as I am. And while there’s this pull to be independent, we need to realize that our time is worth something – a lot, actually. We can all be happier, wealthier, and more successful if we play to our strengths and spend our time doing things that only we have the unique combination of talent and experience to pull off.

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