What is Your Time Worth?

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Successful business people agree that time is their most valuable asset.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Unlike money, you can’t earn more time.  In order to stay focused on what’s important, ask yourself;

  • What is the best use of my time? 
  • How do I use my time effectively to grow my business?
  • What goals do I want to accomplish?
  • What would I regret not achieving?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What gets me out of bed every morning?

Because time is your most valuable asset, you can’t be willing to give it away to others freely. It prevents you from prioritizing your own wants and needs. It’s like making deposits in everyone else’s bank accounts and never putting anything in your own.

Once time is gone, it’s gone—that’s why it’s so important to use what you have and use it wisely. The best approach to life is to “leave it all on the field,” and that means making sure you did all you could. Prioritize the things that matter most to you. Otherwise, they might never get done—and you’ll never know your true potential.

As a business owner, you need to provide your own healthcare, pay your own taxes, provide for your own vacation time, keep the lights on, put gas in the car, and keep your camera bag stocked. All of this overhead must be considered when deciding how to best use your time to maximize sales. After all, you don’t just need to be compensated for your time, you also need to cover your bills.

But there is more. There also must be the concept of the amount of time it takes to perform a given task.  After all, we could all whittle a stick into a toothpick without much learning or risk, however, doing so could take days. Cost vs. revenue analysis is a must for any successful business owner.

When considering all this, how do you decide when to outsource the task versus doing it yourself?  This can be a subjective or a quantitative decision but most definitely, a difficult decision.  There are multiple methodologies to help you consider the options:

  • The simple one is, do you have the time available? 
  • The next level of complexity is, do you have something better you want to do with that time? 
  • Items 1 and 2 above are soft costs.  For item 3 we move to the harder cost.  Particularly, can you utilize that time on another activity to make more money than outsourcing costs?  

Salary.com quotes the average hourly rate of a photographer to be $32.  You, as an independent business owner, may require a higher value for your time to cover expenses associated with running a business.  A typical hourly rate for professional contractors in today’s marketplace is around $100 / hour.  Regardless of the exact value you determine, it should give you an idea of how to quantify your time.

Let’s now turn to your post-process workflow around the culling and photo selection process and apply this learning.

Our research with professional photographers identifies culling as the #1 pain point associated with post-event workflows.  Culling is seen as a monotonous, stressful task that requires an inordinate amount of time (think cost vs. revenue).  As we look to the 3 points above, let’s see how culling stacks up:

  • Culling is not a difficult task.  On the contrary, it is quite easy to perform when thinking of just one image but multiply that task hundreds and thousands of times and, ugh, it can quickly become overwhelming.  Do you have the time to do it?  Possibly.  But now comes point #2:
  • Can you utilize the time more effectively doing other tasks?  This one seems obvious when considering the hours, and sometimes days, it takes to complete culling.  Your time is valuable – you cannot get it back.  Could you be doing things to build your business, strengthen your personal relationships, or looking after your own health and wellbeing? 
  • Now adding a quantitative component to this, assuming culling takes 6 hours to complete at the average of $32 per hour means you paid yourself $192 to cull those images.  Will you make that back for all the effort put into it?  Could you have outsourced that activity or used a service, like Kodak Professional Select, to save time and money? 

Successful business owners take a hard look at these aspects of their business and make critical decisions to prioritize their time.  Letting go of that which you are accustomed to controlling can be a scary thing – it can also be a very profitable strategy – and the difference between a struggling business and a thriving influential photography operation!

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