Fellow Consultants...Bill for Your Time - You Earned It!How many times have you provided a valuable service for someone, but then got too busy and forgot to bill for it? Or, maybe you were involved in a large project, only called on to provide information for short durations, and never got around to inputting your time because you were busy jumping to another task? I know I have been guilty of this many times, and from talking to others, many of you do the same thing. We multitask and move from one project to another, too busy to write it down in the file or on a time sheet. With so many files and clients, we might remember to enter the time, but forget to pull the file when the project is finally complete. I often wonder how much free advice and consultation I have given away.
This was true until early last year when I found Time Tracker in Quick Books. There are most likely other similar programs, but Time Tracker is the one we use and like. This is an online time keeping service that connects with your client list in Quick Books. Every time you do anything for anybody, you open the Time Tracker through the online service. It takes only seconds to open once you bookmark it in your browser. Once you have entered the client in Quick Books, you can automatically open this client from a drop-down menu in the online Time Tracker. The next menu is for the service being provided, in my case, Consultation. Then, under the correct day, you enter the time you spent, with a final entry for any level of details. At the end of every month, you or your bookkeeper can go to one place, where everything is already entered and ready to invoice with information you only had to enter once. In addition, you or your employees can enter their time from anywhere there is a network-connected computer.
I used to hate the end of the month. I dreaded going through files and trying to figure out whom to bill and what to bill for, knowing that I probably had forgotten many of my hours. Now, I do not have to think about it, since I already entered the information real-time. Yes, it takes discipline to enter the time when you complete the work, but the rewards are significant.
Our accountant said that studies have shown at least a 20% increase in billable hours when you use a program such as this. The Time Tracker service, once you have the Quick Books software installed on your computer, cost $25 per month for 1 to 4 employees, and pays for itself in no time. Remember, bill for your time - you earned it!