Some of the Ways People Pay for Time (& How to Get Them to Pay for Yours)
The phrase “time is money” is almost as old as the concept itself. Our first recorded use of the idiom comes from Plutarch’s Lives (circulated in 1 BCE). Plutarch credited Athenian orator, Antiphon of 5th Century BCE, as saying,“The most costly outlay is time.” By the time Ben Franklin wrote the modern expression,“Time is Money” in 1748, the concept was undoubtedly eons old.
Because time is money and we all have a finite amount of the former, time is precious. Time is valuable. Time is the most-prized commodity… and we find countless ways to pay for it – and pay for more of it.
We pay for time…
to park at airports and parking meters
on a broad spectrum of subscription services (How many different ways are you charged for 30 days?)
to get places with Ubers, Lyfts, and Lime
to talk on long-distance phone calls and every non-toll-free number
on vacations and cruises – we even pay to take time off or count our vacation time in “Paid Time Off”
on late library books
in all kinds of ways at the airport: parking, skipping security or boarding lines, and for time in massage chairs
for advice from consultants and lawyers
If you work in one of the many fields where you are paid for your time, you probably feel like you’re not getting paid enough. According to recent studies from Sanford, when you’re paid by the hour, you’re almost hard-wired to sacrifice increasing amounts of time in hopes of
earning increasing amounts of money. But, because you only have a set number of hours in
the day and week, there are never truly enough hours to work and, as such, never enough money.
Similarly, people who run their own business and are self-employed think of every hour as a working hour and are loathe to waste a second. And, as more and more people enter self-employment (as trends seem to be indicating), more people will have questions about how to start their business, how to find clients, how to strategize marketing, et cetera.
How to Get Paid for Your Time Instead of Giving It Away for Free
Recently, a friend of mine (who works for a video streaming giant) summed up the situation perfectly gripe about the number of DMs he was getting for business lunch requests.
“I get paid for my ideas,” he said.“Buying me lunch to go over your business plan is not it.”
Another friend(a former radio personality and entrepreneur) made a similar complaint in her Instagram story about having to awkwardly explain that she needed to be compensated for her time.
Both friends could have avoided these situations if they were honest and upfront about the value of their time. Your time – and your knowledge – are vital to the life of your business. Set some standards for interaction for yourself and others (aka potential clients). This isn’t to say you can’t help out on a project, but if your goal is to use your time wisely to increase your business, then follow the three steps below. When you set clear expectations, you’ll likely find that people start approaching you differently.
Step 1: Be the first person to value your time.
Don’t expect people to assume your time costs real money because, like everyone (you and me included), they are going to run on the default assumption that it’s free. Do people know that you have consultation fees? When someone searches your profile, is that information
easy to find? Do you let people know about your services and project costs at all?
People might be asking to “pick your brain” over lunch, and maybe a part of your probably wants to do it – whether it’s to be helpful or to pick up a potential client. Some people think of business lunches as a run-around to actually paying a consultation fee, but they don’t have to be. If you decide to do lunch, approach it as a business opportunity and whoever your meeting as someone who might pay you. Be professional and be upfront.
It doesn’t hurt to say: “I’m glad I’ve been able to help you so far. This sounds like a great project and if you want to continue working together, let me send you a list of my services.”
Step 2: Know what your price is. If you want to be able to support yourself, you’ll need to know how much your time is worth. As such, before offering your services to anyone, you should decide how much to charge for your services. While you might end up charging more for big projects or merchandise items, remember to offer some things for free. Newsletters, blogs, and video tutorials are all types of content you can offer clients (and potential clients) for free. (A personal website is an excellent place to list all of this information).
Step 3: Don’t apologize. The ingrained habit of apologizing for doing nothing wrong can undermine any type of consultant’s or entrepreneur’s business. There’s no need to say,“I’m sorry, but I charge $X for that.”
One, you’re not sorry and, two, people are likely to feel put off when you frame a response this way. “I’m sorry” is a breeding ground for inauthentic communication and, because people can sense it, the bad taste it may leave in their mouth could cost you future business. Instead, be confident and – above all – honest in your interactions. There’s no need to “lighten the blow” of letting people know you charge for your time when you’re consistently clear and upfront about it. And, don’t be afraid of losing potential clients. The ones who can’t stand to hear your prices aren’t worth your time anyway.
Andrew Egan.“WhenTime Became Money” Retrieved on May 12, 2019 from https://tedium.co/2017/07/06/calculagraph-history-time-tracking/
Kyle Chayka.“TimeIs Money, But That Doesn’t Mean You Need to Work Non-Stop” https://psmag.com/economics/time-money-doesnt-mean-need-work-non-stop-81438
“Time is Money When You’re Paid by the Hour” by Marguerite Rigoglioso. Retrieved on May 15, 2019 from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/time-money-when-youre-paid-hour