What’s Your True Hourly Rate? And How to Boost It with Smart Work and AutomationJason Martin
Do you know your true hourly rate? No, we’re not just talking about the number you quote to clients or the one stated in your contract. We’re referring to the value of each hour of your work, considering all tasks involved in running your business, not just the ones you bill for. Understanding this number is a game-changer for freelancers, small business owners, and coaches alike. Why? Because once you know it, you can start making smarter decisions about how to increase it.
The Hidden Value: Why Knowing Your True Hourly Rate Matters
The importance of knowing your true hourly rate can’t be overstated. For small businesses, freelancers, and coaches, it provides an unfiltered look at your efficiency, profitability, and work-life balance. It’s not just about the revenue you generate from your services; it’s also about accounting for all the “hidden hours” you spend on administration, marketing, and other business activities that don’t directly bring in income. How do you measure it, you ask? Well, let’s get into that.
Part 1: How to Calculate Your True Hourly Rate
Here’s a straightforward way to find out: Track your work hours meticulously for at least one week. Don’t just include the time you spend on projects or with clients. Factor in everything, from administrative duties to time spent on marketing. If it’s easier, use a time tracker (I use Toggl). Once you’ve got your total, divide your income for that period by the number of hours worked. Voila, you’ve got your true hourly rate.
Part 2: How to Increase Your True Hourly Rate
Once you’ve got that number, what next? Broadly speaking, you’ve got two options:
Option 1: Increase Prices
Pros: More revenue per project and the potential to attract higher-quality clients.
Cons: The risk of losing existing clients and the need to deliver more value to justify higher prices.
Option 2: Decrease Hours Worked (Recommended)
Pros: More free time, increased focus, and a better work-life balance.
Cons: Initial time and maybe money investment in setting up systems to make the magic happen.
My opinion? The second option aligns more with the mantra of working smart, not hard.
Part 3: Smart Work Through Automation and AI
Why Work Smarter, Not Harder?
By optimizing your workflows and automating routine tasks, you can drastically cut down on the number of hours you work, without sacrificing—and sometimes even increasing—your output.
Tools like #Zapier, #Airtable, and other automation services can handle many repetitive tasks, from sending invoices to sorting your emails.
Emerging AI technology can assist with data analysis, handle customer service queries, and even help with content creation, all while you focus on growing your business.
Knowing your true hourly rate is like having a compass in the business world. It guides your decisions and helps you navigate toward a more profitable and balanced life. By working smarter and embracing automation and AI, you can boost that rate, achieve more in less time, and actually live the lifestyle you’re working so hard to secure.
Call to Action
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