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Where does the time go? Billable time. As a consultant, your practice may be doing reasonably well; you're charging $100-150 an hour. As an independent consultant, you're probably also doing everything from grinding the coffee to editing the umpteenth draft of your brochure.

To understand where you spend your time, list and categorize all your activities into clerical, professional and other suitable groups. Calculate how many hours you're spending on each-daily, weekly, monthly, annually. Some you enjoy, some you're really good at, some are a pain in the neck The point is, no one is paying you to do them. The more time you spend on client work, the more you bill. The more you bill, the more money you have available to pay someone else to take care of the stuff you'd rather not do or should not be doing yourself.

The time you spend on unbillable tasks makes you a very expensive clerical worker. Keeping the cash to yourself sounds good, until you really think about it. You wouldn't pay a secretary $150 an hour, but that's precisely what you're paying yourself. Your time is valuable and should be spent earning money or on activities that grow your business like marketing or product development. The rest is just overhead-costly overhead. Can you afford not to hire someone?

And, it's not just the on-going clerical and administrative stuff you can be helped with. Many of our own clients come only after having spent hundreds of hours trying to create their own marketing materials.

Entrepreneurs strongly resist giving up any responsibility. You know the refrain, "If it's going to be done right, I've got to do it myself." They struggle endlessly with business plans, and similar activities unrelated to their field of expertise.

You may indeed ask, who better? The answer is, your professional colleagues. They may charge the same hourly fee, but the job is done in much less time and they bring objectivity and fresh ideas.

This is not only less expensive in the long run, but these things will also be done better. The repercussions of doing a inadequate job on your business plan, marketing materials, accounting, etc. can be severe.

Certainly, keep an eye on things; but don't spend more time than you must. Leave the grunt work to others. Hiring clerical and professional help is practical, and necessary-if you want to squeeze the most out of your practice.

Keith Thirgood, Creative Director, Editor Thrive-on-Line Capstone Communications Group Helping businesses get more business through innovative marketing Markham, Ontario, Canada 905-472-2330 Subscribe to Thrive-on-line

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