Get Ready for Recovery Without Committing Cash Today

Many of the self employed business owners I talk to are skeptical about when, how fast, or how prolonged any coming economic recovery will be.  That leaves them reluctant to spend money right now when they are unsure of how soon they’ll be getting a return on that marketing or expansion investment.

I talk to dozens of self employed and small business owners every week in my client meetings, networking groups, and chamber functions.  Since my passion in life is to make my self employed clients more successful, I pay attention to the trends of the moment so they’ll benefit quickly

Here are 5 real-time ways my savviest self employed clients, friends, and connections are getting ready to reap results from the coming economic recovery but not yet spending a dime.

1) Get out there and network.  Traditional old face-to-face networking is on the rise.  Our chamber has increased its number of events and attendance has also increased.  People are having conversations, handing out their cards and meeting new prospects.

2) Get quotes. Some self employed business owners are requesting proposals for new mailers, new promotional items, new brochures, or new Internet methods.  Although they are taking longer to pull the trigger on starting the projects, they are gathering information so they can make an informed decision to spend when the time is right.

3) Get Ideas.  In my networking meetings, several times weekly, I am hearing discussions about what’s working and how to get started.  Again, the dollars are not yet committed, but new ideas are being discussed, weighed, and considered. People are talking to new potential vendors as well as old favorites.  Also, they’re talking to other self employed small business owners who have the same target market to get different perspectives.  For example remodelers are talking to real estate agents.

4) Stage your implementation.  Some of my network of business owners and others are starting small.  Several have discussed how to start remodeling projects and do it in phases because they are tired of waiting and still want the work done.

5) Get educated on Social Media, Internet marketing and unfamiliar techniques.  I hear conversations on who is using LinkedIn and how, who is using Facebook and why, as well as what’s not working.  My Internet-related business owners are hosting educational seminars and fielding a lot of questions, both in and out of the classroom. Several business owners I deal with have started new email newsletters so their names will be top-of-mind when projects come up.  Such techniques are extremely inexpensive and perfect for business owners with time available but few marketing dollars.

So that’s it.  Even if you are not getting big orders, large sales, or copious numbers of new customers, there is lots of pre-buying activity going on right now.  Don’t let it pass you by; get out there and get ready.

Now stop reading about Recovery Without Committing Cash Today and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

The 7 Deadliest Financial Mistakes Self Employed Make Coming Out of Recession

For many of my self employed clients, the sales cycle is already on an upswing.  Recovery recession has turned from a deep desire to a slow spiral of reality.  Now comes regroup, refocus and rebuild.  As you build plans for the rest of this year and into next, avoid these deadly financial mistakes that may kill your business during the next recession.  Yes, there will be a next recession; they’re a normal.

Waiting for the All Clear Signal – If you are waiting for headlines that say unemployment is falling, home sales are booming, and sales exceed expectations, you’ll be too late.

Focusing Solely on Debt – You have friends whose business lines of credit have been frozen and others just killed by debt.  Your own debt may be frightening.  As your income increases, don’t make debt reduction your only priority.  Build a stash cash for the next recession, even if you have to start small.

Forgetting Lessons Learned – Now is a great time to make a list of smart things we wish we’d done: saved more, put more away for retirement, researched more before spending, retaining marginal employees.  What did you wish you’d done?  Now don’t forget.

Old Thinking – No, we will not go back to the easy credit, easy sales, and easy growth of 2003 through 2007.  Just like the Great Depression, people’s buying habits have changed for a generation. You’ll need new sales techniques, new marketing techniques, and new customer service methods if you want to be a winner over this next expansion.

Competing on Price – Yes, most of us think Berks County buyers only care about price.  If that’s true, why is Wal-Mart not the only store in town?  Focus on value above price.

Ignoring Your Best employees – Many small businesses reduced employee work-week to save money.  In many cases, the work load didn’t decrease so employees took work home or even came into the office without pay.  If it’s too soon to put these best team player employees back on full pay, find some other way to show you value them. Otherwise, you risk them finding another job later this year.

No Plan for Next Recession – Hopefully we’ll have three or four years before another economic downturn.  Come up with a plan for getting ready.  What did you wish you’d done differently five years ago that would have made you weather this last recession better.  Then do that.

They say that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  So here’s to the newly strong, self employed getting a whole lot stronger.

Now stop reading about The 7 Deadliest Financial Mistakes and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Low Cost & No Cost Marketing Ideas – 10 for 2010

As you finish up your 2010 business game plan, what did you add for marketing?  It’s not too late to add a few low cost marketing ideas that can bring you new customers without ballooning your budget.

Here are 10 no cost and low cost marketing ideas for 2010 that won’t break the bank.

1)    Resolve to ask for referrals. Referred clients are easier to get, more loyal, and generally more profitable. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on asking for and getting referrals. Then ask others who appear better at it than you.  Believe that you can improve your referrals and it will happen.

2)    Join a new referral group so new people can get to know, like, and trust you.   You knew I would remind you about the new Reading Chamber’s LEADS group. The cost is a real bargain and a great way to get new referrals.

3)    Analyze your last year’s marketing results. Drop the program with the lowest ROI (return on investment).  Did you get at least as much back in new business as you spent?  Actually, I look for three times back my investment or I keep looking for something better.

4)    Use the dollars freed from the above discarded program to invest in something new. Don’t’ forget to make a success measurement goal so that next year you’ll be able to determine if the new tactic is a ‘keeper’.

5)    Develop a core set of raving fans.  If you provide a great reliable product that delivers significance, connectedness, and a modicum of novelty you’ll find people who will rave about you.

6)    Improve your email marketing strategy. Email is pretty much free.  What could you send your clients and prospects that they would value as well as have them like and remember you?

7)    Tweak your website.  When was the last time it was updated?  Remember it is your billboard, your brochure and your new millennium Yellow Pages.  Don’t let it stagnate.

8)    So something just for fun. Get out to fun events and talk to people.  Do it just because you like it.

9)    Give back to the community. Chances are there’s something you are passionate about that has a non-profit associated with it.  Just getting involved will introduce you to new people who may become prospects.  But in the meantime, you’ll be helping a cause you care about.

10)   Get educated.  If you think that some new tactic will help build your business, for example LinkedIn, publishing articles, or creating a radio show; find someone who can get you to the next level of education about it. They’ll help you consider the cost, opportunities, leads, and potential returns.  Find someone farther along than you and pick their brain!

That’s it – 10 low cost marketing ideas for 2010. Don’t like my ideas? Come up with some new ones of your own. Most importantly, be in action, don’t spend a lot, and measure the results! Send me an email with your ideas.

Now stop reading about Low Cost No Cost Marketing Ideas and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Who’s Recovering the Quickest – Is it You?

We hear that the recession is on the wane and that there may be growth this year, albeit with high unemployment plaguing us for a while.  Notwithstanding that you as the self-employed entrepreneur may not yet be feeling a recovery, it is happening.  Let me first be up front in saying that my views are my own.

My prediction of who among our local community small companies will emerge earliest and strongest out of this recession are those that are out there being visible and accessible.  Yes, that means advertising and marketing, which of course means dollars.  But more importantly and with much smaller investment of actual dollars spent are those companies and entrepreneurs out networking and making new friends.

There is a lot of pent up buying power built over the last year as people have avoided buying anything that could be delayed.  But after a year of holding off spending, many of my clients are now thinking about things they really need to purchase.  As they begin the pre-buying activities of asking questions, forming feature lists, and finding vendors, they are doing it out in the community.

That is, they are talking to people in their churches, their Rotary clubs, their networking groups, and their friends.  If your company is active in the community, you may have already noticed the increased number of conversations and requests for proposals.  Being active and visible gives the message that you are not only still in business (unlike many of your peers) but also surviving and attracting new prospects and clients.

If you are among that other pessimist group who is waiting for things to get better and then you will get out and market, you are missing the boat.  Your competitors are gaining visibility, credibility, and activity that can lead to new clients over the next few months.

Let me be bold in saying that if you are not out having at least eight conversations a week with new people and potential prospects, you may not be among those who recover quickly this year.  So if you are not in that first actively networking group, and you are asking the question of who will recover quickest, guess what, it isn’t you.

Want to argue my point? Give me a call or email me.

Now stop reading about who’s recovering the quickest and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Easing out of Recession not so Easy for Small Service Companies

Very recently, several of my clients have begun sharing that their sales have turned up over the last couple months. Yeah, finally! Since I talk to business owners every day, and no one has expressed that sales are getting worse, this constitutes a trend, albeit an unscientific one. But, hey, any good news brings a sigh of relief at this point.

With sales up and seeing your business operate in the black, at least on paper, you might think your troubles would be over soon. Not to burst your bubble, but don’t forget about a brand new kind of cash flow squeeze. How could such a squeeze be new when you’ve already been dealing with cash deficit issues for well over a year?

During the recession, clients who pay an invoice began paying slower. Now with your sales going up, your expenses are probably going up too. So while your sales and billings might increase, the number of days to get paid has gotten longer. This is causing the new kind of cash squeeze. One where expenses go up because but the cash to pay for those sales doesn’t come in until 30 to 45 days later. Before the recession took hold your invoices might have been paid in 15 to 30 days. Now, you are carrying additional cost with slower pay and may already have drawn upon your credit line too much for comfort. This leaves you squeezed in a new and more uncomfortable ways even as your sales look more promising.

So, how do you compensate?

1) Your cost cutting days may not be over, even with light on the horizon and sales increasing.

2) Yes, delaying your own payments may still be necessary.

3) Invoice more often, for partial payments at start of contract and at delivery points.

4) Drawing on your credit line may be required even if you were lucky enough to have avoided it so far.

5) Get creative, or call me and we’ll get creative together.

And lastly, don’t forget to count your blessings. Slashing of prices just to stay competitive may soon be over. Wondering when it will end is a thing of the past. You survived the Great Recession of 2008-2009. And while you may never return to the glory days of 2004-2005-2006, you are now better prepared. Remember, good habits get formed in bad times, but we get to keep those good habits forever.

Now stop reading about recovering from the recession and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Self Employed: What Goes into Your Billable Hour?

If you sell services, you only get paid for the time you are directly working for clients. The trouble is, there’s a lot of time the client doesn’t see you working on their behalf. When pricing your services, these “extra” hours need to be considered.

Time you need to average across all clients (Start keeping track of these so your estimates get more accurate):

  • Emails on their behalf
  • Invoicing, collecting payment, and answering billing questions
  • Writing the proposal and closing the deal
  • Waiting and checking to see if the client is ready for the next step

Time directly attributable to the client and billed correspondingly:

  • Traveling to/from their location
  • Researching something specifically for them
  • Building/delivering/doing/fixing their stuff (sadly, this is the only part they really “see”)
  • Revising (usually at the request of the client)

Time that is truly overhead, not attributable to specific clients:

  • Marketing
  • Selling (in general, not a specific client)
  • Managing your business finances (banking, taxes, management)
  • Hiring, managing, and training employees
  • Training to advance your skills and certifications
  • Vacation, sick time, holidays
  • Opening the mail including junk mail and spam email (yes sadly it takes your time)
  • Waiting for the phone to ring

For example, when we hire a plumber who charges us $75 an hour, we know he’s not really making $156,000 per year ($75 x 40 hours x 52 weeks). For every hour he works in someone’s house, he spends time getting supplies, invoicing, writing an estimate, and collecting the money.

So remember when you are figuring your rate per billable hour, there is a lot of effort the client doesn’t see but needs to be incorporated.  Let me know how your billable hours are calculated in the comments below.

Now stop reading about your billable hours and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Your Self Employed Hidden Paycheck – Little Things Add Up (Part 2)

In Your Self Employed Hidden Paycheck – How to Pay Yourself More with Less (Part 1), I showed that my 2008 hidden paycheck from being self employed was $23,606. Here is how the numbers add up. We’re talking about items my family gets direct benefit from, but can be attributed to the business and are taken as small business tax deductions. If you are self employed your family also gets paid in “stuff” that employees normally buy after they get their paycheck, but you can buy before you take your paycheck. The business purchase of this stuff, instead of you personally constitutes a hidden paycheck.

Most articles found on the web and elsewhere focus on self employed taxes and the tax savings aspect. Like the $6,610 savings I made last year in self employed taxes. But this article focuses on the hidden paycheck produced by legitimately buying goods and services used for you business that also has personal benefits.

Make sure you check with your CPA before you take any of these deductions since your situation is most certainly different.

My Self Employed Hidden Paycheck items for 2008:

Self employed health insurance – First, the big one. As an employee, it’s not deductible even if you pay the whole thing. Being self employed, it’s entirely deductible. I spent $5,068 last year.

Cell phone – I have five lines for my family. These cost $179 a month after subtracting the kid’s lines, although all are necessary to my business and my sanity.

Home/business phone – Working from home allows me to write off my phone ($45/mo) and my long distance VOIP line with BroadVoice ($35/mo).

Internet – My Internet at home costs $50/mo. Who could run a business without that?

Lunches/dinners out – Meeting with clients and prospects over lunch or dinner is a relaxing way to build business. Even after the 50% deduction, I spent $129/mo.

Party leftovers – My client party at my house had 146 clients and prospects last year. In Berks County, it’s a mortal sin to run out of food, so I ended up with a steak, shrimp, appetizers and alcohol left to freeze. Although extremely hard to estimate, I would say safely about $500 total was the value of what we ate later in the year with family and friends.

Travel – I have a lot of clients near San Jose, California where I used to live, many began as close friends. Traveling there three times last year to see them and the clients they refer is like a vacation for me. Since I stay with my mother-in-law (who I just love), I only spent $2,772 on three trips last year.

Vacation – When many people go on vacation, they work part of the time and deduct part of the cost. I didn’t last year, so my business deductible vacation was $0. This can be a significant amount as we will see in a future article.

Home office deduction – Working from home allowed me to take $3,484 last year off my taxable income. Think of it as the business paying part of the electric, mortgage, pool maintenance, and everything that goes into maintaining a house divided by the square footage used for your business.

Per diem meals – I found this little known tax deduction works for me because I stay at my mother-in-law’s house when I visit my clients in CA. Per diem meals is a daily rate based on where you travel allowed for deduction where you don’t need a receipt. California is $59/day and I spent 47 days there last year. So I get to take $2,802 as business expenses.

Office supplies – With two teenagers in school and various Boy Scout projects, we use extra office supplies such as paper, toner, and notebooks. Maybe it’s not worth mentioning at only about $200 a year, but it illustrates that there are probably things you haven’t thought of yet.

Auto mileage – If you routinely stop at the grocery store, department store, or friend’s house on your way home from a client or meeting, you have saved yourself a trip and pocketed the mileage. Make it a habit and it is money your household is getting without spending. With .55 cents a mile, that was around $1,294 last year.

Computer equipment – Who could run a business without a computer? It also serves as my personal entertainment, shopping aid, and correspondence tool. We tend to buy a laptop about every year for either my husband or me and give the older one to our kids or assistants. Patrick’s MacBook and all its software, cases and parts was $2,052. Yes, we bought other computer stuff, but I’m only counting here what we would have had to buy for the family (and unable to deduct) if we weren’t self employed.

Telephone equipment – Between dropping my Ipaq and being a woman with the ‘no pockets’ problem, I need to upgrade my cell phone nearly each year. Without extending my contract, it cost $299. At home we have a TalkSwitch PBX which died after 5 years and we replaced it for $826.

NOW, a big disclaimer, I do not do taxes! I work with an excellent CPA who specializes in self employed taxes. She is a tremendous help to me. I then pass onto my self employed clients whatever they are missing. So if you have any questions regarding whether something is business deductible in your situation, ask your CPA. I am only helping to stimulate your brain and get this stuff recorded in the first place. You can’t count it if you don’t track it.

How do you figure your hidden paycheck? Comment now.

Now stop reading about your hidden paycheck and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Your Self Employed Hidden Paycheck – How to Pay Yourself More with Less (Part 1)

As self employed, we’re pulled in two directions. We want better income from being self employed, yet we want our self employed taxes to be as low as practical. We want our family to benefit from having a better income and all the luxuries it can buy: travel, TVs, cell phones, dining out, and more. But the more dollars in your paycheck, the more self employed taxes you pay.

Fortunately there are common, regular and necessary expenses in your business that have direct benefit to your family. The average employee must pay for all these items AFTER he gets his paycheck. Being self employed, you can count these items against your business and pay for them BEFORE you take your paycheck. Your self employed income will seem lower but your family gets “paid” in the stuff the business pays for. This, in turn, builds your hidden paycheck.

This hidden paycheck is part of what makes being self employed worth the effort. Many items in our daily lives are also used for business. For the purposes of tax reporting, we get to take those expenses against the business because they are necessary for running the business. Depending on your business, this adds up to a hidden paycheck of $15,000 to $25,000 a year.

Your CPA can help you figure out exactly which costs fall into the various buckets and where to report them on your tax forms. Let’s go over some examples. Better income from your hidden paycheck comes from:

I’ll go into detail in part 2, here are just some totals. Last year, my hidden paycheck amounted to $23,606. I’ll show you how I got there in Your Self Employed Hidden Paycheck – Little Things Add Up (Part 2)

Here are the categories I used:
Self employed health insurance
Cell phone
Home/business phone
Internet
Lunches/dinners out
Party leftovers
Travel
Vacation
Home office deduction
Per diem meals
Office supplies
Auto mileage
Computer Equipment
Telephone equipment

What’s in your self employed hidden paycheck? Comment now.

Now stop reading about your hidden paycheck and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies and demand growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Your Service Pricing: Get Ready For the Recovery

How to price service during recovery

How to price service during recovery

Are you trying to survive the recession by lowering your prices, adding free stuff, and bending over backwards to please the customer so you can keep them? You are not alone. Let me ask you this. When will it stop? How will you stop it? Have you been planting the seeds so that you can stop giving away your time, energy, and expertise? Does your services price list even have your “desired” prices on it?

Take these steps to get ready to raise your service pricing as the economy improves, and prepare your clients so they’ll value you more and happily stick with you.

1.  Make a list of all your current services and your ideal services price list. Give each item a specific service price. This list of service prices is NOT to be given to customers; this is your own secret pricing of services you believe you should be charging. Call this list “Primary Service Prices List”. Use the prices for services you should be charging, not the discounts you are currently giving due to recession, fear of losing the business, self doubt or whatever makes you undercut your own service price list. Think of this list as what your service pricing would be if you were not afraid to lose the business.

2.  On a separate sheet list those services you have been doing for clients but doing for free. Call this list “Additional Service Prices.” Keep adding any services that clients ask for, but don’t charge because you “don’t want to nickel and dime” your client. Also include items you routinely do but have never specifically priced.

For example, one of my commercial cleaning clients is frequently asked to:
Change light bulbs
Put up window screens
Dust air ducts
Dust plants
Put away holiday decorations
Clean up after parties
Initial ‘extra’ cleaning to bring rooms up to standard

On this Additional Service Prices List, start adding the prices for services you think should be charged. Again, this is your own private pricing of services, so don’t worry about how to price services in the best way just yet. Just keep adding distinct services to the list and assigning them a price. If it helps, estimate the amount of time for each item.

3.  Change your proposals.  Be specific in your prices, services, and delivery specifications. Build a clear checklist of what each primary service entails. You’ll then be able to point out when the client has asked you for an extra service. That’s because that service won’t be on your delivery list and will be on your Additional Service Prices List.

4.  Begin believing that this recessionary era of “free” will soon be over. This is a change in your thinking. Look for evidence of it. You’ll find it. Remember, what you think the service is worth (and ask for) is what clients think it is worth.

5.  When a client asks you to do something on your Additional Service Prices List, your response should always be positive. Say, “I’ll be happy to do that for you Sally. Our price for that is $75. Would you like me to add that today or schedule that for Tuesday when we work with you next time?” If you don’t have the courage just yet, say something like, “Normally we charge $75 for that but since you are such a good customer, I’ll add it this time.” You’ve now begun establishing the value of your services. Listen for feedback.

6.  Tell your clients when you are giving them something free. Put those items in your invoice with their new normal service prices, but begin listing them as “no charge”. You’ve been giving them something of value; you want them to see it.

7.  Now start adding an end point to all these free and cheap service prices. When providing a free service, add “30-days free” or “6-months free” after each item. That way, you’ve started to tell the clients what the end date is.

8.  Practice adding in those new service prices and charging for those items on the Additional Service Prices List. Add these service prices to your proposals, and in your response to client requests. Further, begin suggesting these services as you see your clients need for them. You will be adding value and making helpful suggestions. Don’t wait until all your competitors have raised their prices or started adding these services. While you may be afraid to be first, be more afraid to be last.

Notice how changing your service prices are a lot about the way you are thinking? So don’t give up at the first sign of resistance.  Tell me what you’ve been giving away for free in your comments.

Now stop reading about how to price your service and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Service Pricing Strategy: 3 Steps to Finding your Average Billable Hours Target

Your Target Billable Rate for Service Pricing

Your Target Billable Rate for Service Pricing

So how many working hours in a year can you really expect to sell, even if you could sell them all? If you are a sole practitioner not yet ready to hire help, your billable hours and your billable rate determines whether your family will thrive, survive, or dive. Let’s determine how you set your billable rate using target family income. In other blogs, we’ll use other methods such as value pricing

Working full time at a regular job is 52 weeks a year at 40 hours a week, so 2,080 maximum working hours in a year. Some of us actually remember working at a straight job, the kind that used to have a salary.  So here’s a methodology for determining your target rate per billable hour.

1) Subtract days we need to take for vacation days, education days, sick days, or other large blocks of time that reduce our available billable hours.

2 weeks vacation (at a minimum) – subtract 80 billable hours
2 weeks of holidays (in your own business you may end up doing paperwork those days) – subtract 80 billable hours
2 weeks education (realistic, even if you just do some educational research on the web) – subtract 80 billable hours
2 weeks sick time (again, realistic if you have kids, a spouse, parents or actually get sick yourself) – subtract 80 billable hours

So now we are at 44 weeks at 40 hours or 1,840 billable hours in a year.  That is, if we could actually charge clients for every hour of the week, which is unrealistic.

2) Calculate overhead time spent building, managing, and administrating your business.

Typically, these are items performed every week, and reduce your available billing hours on a regular and persistent basis. How many hours do we need for overhead time? What’s a realistic amount of time each week for:

Invoicing clients
Marketing and sales to get clients
Collecting money from clients
Answering customer service questions
Re-work for service (which you may not be able to bill)
Keeping records (for the IRS, for later customer questions, for analysis)
Researching new methods to help clients
Copying, faxing, emailing, filing

Even if you are good at sales, efficient at paperwork, and fast at implementing new ideas, you are probably looking at 10 hours a week of overhead time (more than one day a week).

So within that 40 hour week, you now have 30 average billable hours. That is, if you have no down time between client projects. A reasonable estimate for down time is another 15%. This is time within a project that can’t be billed because the client is not ready for your next step, or between projects when you are looking for billable hours or not yet started. This 15% applies if you are in a field with good reasonable demand that doesn’t get persistently rescheduled (such as when you are waiting for equipment to be delivered or other client delays). Some of that down-time can be absorbed by your overhead projects. That is why you can’t always set aside specific times of the week for your overhead (or end up spending nights and weekends). So we will use 10% for our down time estimate, or 4 additional hours a week. That leaves 26 average billable hours available in a full working week. Over 44 weeks, that is 1,196 average billable hours in a year. This should be your target for an average work week; one with no holidays, sick days, or vacation days.

3) How much you want to make determines your billable rate.

If you want to bring $100,000 a year into your family before paying personal taxes, and you have 30% benefits expense (we’ll discuss in another post), you’ll need to charge $109 as your billable rate for an hour. If your clients won’t pay that billable rate, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and find another way or your family won’t eat! (This is where people call me and we find a way to solve this problem.)

If you think my estimates are too high, tell me, what would you give up first? I appreciate your comments.

Now stop reading about finding your billable rate and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®.  She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

“Seek new clients, seize better income, capture more profit”