happy little biz

Trading time for money is for the birds

Sorry, birds.

But seriously: go Google 'trading time for money'. Notice a pattern in what comes up on the first few pages of results?

Yep. It's a bad idea. We should all stop doing it. A career goal should be to get away from that time = money equation.

So why are we still living this way? Why are so many jobs compensated by the hour? Why do we think that having a steady job with a '40 hour workweek' should be some sort of life goal?

See, this is a problem found in pretty much every industry. It's something we talk a lot about in the freelancer world, but it's also something we talked about in the massage therapy world, too.

When people hire an independent contractor, whether a plumber, interior designer or web developer, they expect to pay by the hour. Massages are booked in time increments and paid as such. Most non-salaried jobs out there are paid by the hour. Most jobs expect you to be in your office 40 hours a week (or more, if we're being honest here).

I know when people ask me about how much I charge, they wonder about an hourly rate. We're so used to doing things based on time that we don't even consider there might be a better way to compensate people for their work.

Consider this instead:

If something is truly important to us, doesn't it make more sense to pay for it based on how much value it brings to our lives? Do you really care if the person doing that work was 'at their desk' for 40 hours that week? As long as you receive a great product or service, isn't that what really matters?

I am not proposing we all start working five hour workweeks then go to the beach the rest of the week (although, you have to admit, that could be awesome).

What I am saying is time is a limited commodity. It puts a serious limitation on what we can earn, especially as small business owners who usually have a lot of different things we need to be doing that aren't directly working with clients (you know, all the 'unpaid' stuff).

So here's what I'm doing, and what you might want to consider doing: stop charging by the hour. Stop giving people a time-based rate.

Instead, charge based on what you are doing for the person and what value that has for them.

People can really relate to 'this will increase your bookings' or 'this will help the pain in your back' or 'this will help you get your house so much cleaner'. It's much more clear than 'an hour of my time is worth this'.

Honestly, we only have so many hours in a day, and how we spend those hours has such a huge impact on everything in our lives. That time is extremely precious. We often find ourselves miserable if we spend too many hours doing things simply because someone is paying us by the hour, or we're 'expected' to do them.

Price your work based on its value and you'll quickly find you feel so much better about the amount of time you spend on it.


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