Consultants: Make $1M in 10 minutes per week
How many hours a day do you spend on emails?
If you’re like me, you spend at least 1-2 hours/day reading and writing miscellaneous emails.
The problem for entrepreneurs and consultants is that we often don’t bill for the time we spend answering these short little emails, despite the time adding up to a noticeable portion of our workday.
How much money are you losing?
Even with a $100 hourly rate, (which would be conservative for most consultants – not to mention lawyers or those of us in big cities) spending just 30 minutes per day reading & writing client emails would total $12,500/year in billable hours.
Perhaps more realistically… 45 minutes/day with a rate $150/day would be $28,125 per year.
Do you realize if you put that money in your Roth IRA, and earned just 6% interest, in 20 years you’d have over ONE MILLION DOLLARS?!!!
Still comfortable not tracking your time spent on email?
How to fix it?
But how do you do track emails? You’ll need a system that’s easy and requires minimal time so that you can actually do it.
If you use gmail… good news – the tools already exist. The downside? …. You’ll need to use the gmail interface to read and compose your emails, so you’re Microsoft Office or Mac Mail needs to be limited to non-client emails. I thought this would be a deal-breaker personally, but when I realized that it directly resulted in more money in my pocket – it became surprisingly easy – a pleasure in fact.
First, you’ll need a Gmail plugin called Cloud HQ Time Tracker, which installs with a click and a free trial setup. Less than 5 minutes. This is a handy little extension that will track time spent on every email, whether reading, writing, or both.
Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for “Cloud HQ Time Tracker.” It looks like this:
Second, you’ll need a process for exporting and adding up the hours your email hours each month and allocating that time to individual clients.
The export feature exists within Cloud HQ and guess what? I’ve already set up a spreadsheet you can access here. It does all the calculations for you – AUTOMATICALLY. You just have to cut and paste your export into it.
Third, (optional) if you ever need to assign emails to a client even when those emails are not sent to/from the client (like subcontractors or internal team members) you’ll need to implement a method to assign those emails to the correct clients.
For example… let’s say you have a client called ABC Company and you refer to them as “ABC”. You manage a team of people and want to track time spent corresponding with them on the ABC project. The method below works well and is very easy to use.
Include “ABC” somewhere in your subject line whenever you write an email about this client, like one of these:
> Subject: New Report Schedule [ABC]
> Subject: New Report Schedule – ABC
> Subject: [ABC] New Report Schedule
Fourth, you have to replace some of the values in the spreadsheet formulas in order to auto-calculate time spent for each client.
Open the spreadsheet. It’s initially setup for up to 20 clients and 1,000 emails. If you need more emails each week or month, duplicate the tab. It’s best to use to new tab for each month regardless.
Once the spreadsheet is open…
Step 1: Perform a “find and replace” to insert your client abbreviations. This will allow you to track emails that are ABOUT a particular client, but not directly TO/FROM that client.
From the menu, select: Edit > Find and Replace. That will create the popup below.
Click on the “…” to display more options and complete the fields as below.
Step 2: Perform a global find and replace your client domain names. This will allow tracking of any emails sent to/from a client domain name.
Repeat the process to insert your client URL’s. (you don’t need to include the “.com” portion)
Finally, each week or month, export the data from Cloud HQ Time Tracker and paste it into your spreadsheet.
Open your newly exported file in your preferred spreadsheet app. Select all fields and copy and paste them into the Email Time Tracker Google sheet, beginning with your cursor on the field with the text: < begin paste here >
Your totals for each client will be in the top row for that month or week. I do this weekly so that I can track more precisely throughout the month, but doing this monthly would probably work just as well. Then add the client totals to your monthly billable hours.
The first month I did this, I reclaimed and billed over 10 hours of what would have otherwise been ‘lost’ time.
How long does it take to manage this system?
The majority of time in setting up this system was spent figuring out and creating the spreadsheet rules. (which you can skip, since I’ve done it for you) It will probably take you 10-20 minutes to setup.
At the end of each Friday, I spend about 2 minutes updating my spreadsheet and each month, about 5 minutes inserting the times for each client into my project management software. That’s less than 30 minutes for an extra $1,500, which if you’re a data geek like me, is a rate of $3,000 per hour!
In other words, it’s not a waste of time.
The Best Part
The best part of this is that I don’t hate email anymore. I can now take my time to read and write quality responses for my clients, which is what they deserve (rather than writing emails as quickly as possible) and not get agitated every time I see a new message in my inbox.
Now… I love my inbox! It’s well maintained and very often – EMPTY.