How much is your time worth?

Recently a client was struggling with two related issues:  1.  How much to pay his employees and subcontractors, and 2.  How to manage his accountant who regularly arrived late for scheduled meetings.

I suggested that he should  bill the accountant at least $1.00 per minute that he is late.

“Huh?”  He asked.

Then I reached into a day timer and showed him the following image.  (I tried to find a better image online but was not successful.)

The column headings are Salary year/ Salary week/ Benefits= 40% Total salary/ Total week/  Value per hour/ and Value per minute.


For instance, if your salary per year is $70,000, your Salary per week is $$1,346, your Benefits are $538, your total week is $1,885, your Value per hour is $47.00 and your value per minute is $0.79.

So why wouldn’t you charge the accountant at least $1.00/ minute for being late?  His tardiness is 1) expensive and 2) unprofessional.  I urged him to charge a retroactive late fee.  And I referred him to other accountants.

The second question is more complex.  How much should you pay employees and subcontractors?   The market response is “as little as possible, according to their value.”  That is why we pay minimum wages and low salaries for remedial work.

For most business leaders, we are slow to pay others for remedial work.

The best business leaders, however, ALWAYS delegate low paying tasks to others.  And they refuse to do remedial work.

Back to my client.  I asked him, “So, what do you think your time is worth?”

He said, “At least $70,000/ year.”

I said, “OK then, why aren’t you excited about the opportunity to pay others $10-24.00 per hour to do work for you?”

And that, of course, led to a deep conversation about self-worth and the need to delegate low paying tasks to others.

So, what is your time worth?