Welcome to consulting where you live and die by the billable hour. You must internalize this concept until it becomes instinct. I know some of you are probably thinking, “Wait, I’m not charging by the hour.” But it doesn’t matter if you’re billing by the hour or the day or the month or the project, you are selling hours. Once an hour is gone, you can never sell it again. And like it or not, you can’t stock them in inventory. I spent most of my corporate career at product companies so this was new for me when I started consulting.

How many hours a week do you think you can bill? In the early days, I thought I could bill at least 40 hours a week and maybe 50 or 60. After all, like you, I had been working upwards of 60 hours a week for several years in my corporate jobs. I mean, who works 40 hours a week? Once I did some research, I found that 30 hours a week is considered fully utilized in industries that live and die by the billable hour such as consulting, law and public accounting. Now I shoot to bill 30 hours a week on average. I spend 10-15-20 hours a week doing networking, marketing and business development. And like it or not, it takes an average of 5 hours a week for infrastructure and admin. That adds up to 50-55 hours a week which Is about right.

If I say I am working, it must track to revenue or it’s not work. I hold myself accountable for all the hours I work. I can’t connect all my hours to specific dollars since I spend up to 20 hours a week doing networking, marketing and business development, but I’m very disciplined about what is work and what is not.

Don’t shortchange yourself when it comes to tracking billable time. If you’re doing something for the client, it is billable. That includes emails, phone calls and research. I capture my time in 15 minute increments. I encourage you to use a time tracking system. It doesn’t have to be fancy but Excel spreadsheets quickly become unwieldy. I use a $20 desktop app called Klok 2.0. I’ve been using it for a long time but I’m sure there are many options including apps that are smartphone based. It allows me to track time by client, project or task and gives me some reporting capabilities.

Remember, now that you’re a consultant you must always be thinking about billable hours. Your only finite resource is your time. It’s precious, you can’t warehouse it and you can’t make more of it.

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Originally published at www.billablewithbaby.com


  • Amy Rasdal

    I liberate corporate working mothers!

    I am a working mom of two kids, ages 14 and 4. I traded my corporate job for consulting 15 years ago and love it! Now I live a very blended life with almost no boundaries. I work and play every day. I help working moms take control of their careers and have the flexibility to raise their children on their terms. I’m quick on the mute button and I can tell you a foolproof way to do a professional conference call from Disneyland. www.BillableWithBaby.com