Did you know that Einstein once postulated that time is money. No, really.

His equation, E=MC²=$, was later modified over some mathematical conflict regarding gravity vs. interest rates during periods of qualitative easing, and the $ was dropped to allow for his more-widely accepted theory of general relativity. (You know the one: Where there’s a will, there’s a relative.)

Most business owners know the truth.

Classic "Far Side" by Gary Larson

Classic “Far Side” by Gary Larson

Even if they don’t quite grasp the intricacies of how Energy, Mass and the Speed of Light squared swirl about and form capital, they do know instinctively that time is money. The concept is so pervasive that entire industries base their revenues on employee time sheets.

In some circles, billable hours are denoted by the symbol bH. The exact formula varies from practitioner to practitioner, but generally speaking, on an employee-by-employee basis, it looks like this: bH x HR (hourly rate) = $.

And that, simply put, is bS.

Wait, let me back up a bit.

Time IS money. But it shouldn’t be measured by how many hours any given employee logs on any given project. That’s inefficient at best. At worst, it is contrary to the very ideal of long-term mutually beneficial business relationships. Those relationships should be based on trust, not time logged in 15-minute increments.

Where time really does equal money is in efficiencies. When your people don’t make careless mistakes, you make more money.

Take, for example, the Parable of the Press Release. For argument’s sake, say a typical press release costs $300. (It doesn’t – this is just a parable.) If my junior copywriter, a former journalist seeking asylum from the newspaper industry, is more than capable of producing a superior draft in 15 minutes, then we’ve earned our money on that press release. If Junior can’t write his way out of a paper bag, forcing me off the bench, then that press release is costing US money, not the client.

(That does NOT mean we charge the client more, that means Junior ain’t long for the copywriting world.)

But, since Junior does in fact know his stuff, we don’t ask our clients to pay for the extra time it takes Junior to learn his craft. That means our clients don’t feel gouged. And that, in turn, cements outstanding, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships!

Look, it takes a massive amount of time and effort to sign a new client. If you want real efficiency, take exceptional care of your existing clients. And in that real efficiency, you’ll see how much time really does equal money.

Jeff Peyton

Author Jeff Peyton

Jeff Peyton is Director of Marketing & Communications for Triple Strength. A 30-year veteran of publishing and corporate communications, Jeff gained national prominence directing one of the largest grassroots communications efforts ever fielded. He was the architect of the nation’s first major nonprofit website, attracting millions of visitors per month in the early 1990s – years before social media, twitter, or even broadband access. Jeff spent nearly 10 years working with nonprofits, developing their communications and Web strategies. But don’t be fooled by his professional accomplishments – he also wing-walked on an airplane at 700 feet, co-piloted the Goodyear Blimp, swam with sharks, and still managed to obtain paperwork officially declaring him “legally sane.” (No, really.)

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