Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Budgeting Time

I attended a seminar this morning on The Business Plan; a segment included the regular sales Forecast and Financial Statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet etc) suitable for a restaurant or flower-shop. I'm a consultant, so I don't do that sort of thing.
.... so in my late-afternoon tea-break I decided to do what I'd decided not to do:
Play around with a spreadsheet.
Bit of a waste of time for me to do the forecast sheets on page 5 and the statements on page 7 & 8. I certainly don't need the practice in Excel (grin!). And besides, I don't do "sales" like a restaurant or flower shop.
But they say that "Time Is Money", and if that is so, I ought to be able to do a fair facsimile with my time.
Time is all I have.
I have three objectives for each day in my marketing efforts:
· () Phone 6 contacts from my contacts data base ("Just keeping in touch")
· () Identify and research 1 new prospect (via Canada News Wire and my Prospecting Tools all the way to the initial emailed letter of introduction)
· () Identify 20 qualified targets for a mass email letter, no recipient more frequently than once per two months)
The rest of each day is my own.
I know how many working days there are in each month
Phone Calls
I figure that I can make one phone call every 5 minutes initially.
Starting today I'll be whittling down my contact list, discovering business that no loner exist ("Delete"!). Some calls will take one minute; some might become a 15-minute chat, but 5 minutes seems a good starting point.
As the days/months go by, the calls will become longer, because I'll have got rid of the dead wood and will have more currency in my contacts.
The accompanying spreadsheet shows me spending 5 minutes per call initially, rising to not more than 15 minutes as the months go by.
Please see row 9.
New Prospects
Each day I cull (automatically!) one new prospect from Canada News Wire.
Today it will take me an hour to trawl through the web, LinkedIn and other sources to amass a dossier, an hour to assemble novel pages describing my ideas, an hour to draft the letter and an hour to revise and proof-read it with my mentor.
Say 4 hours in all.
As the months go by I should get better at this and the time per prospect should drop to two hours tops. Besides which, much of my basic documentation will be re-usable.
Please see row 10.
Mass eMails
My same automated task gleans email contacts from Canada News Wire and I can issue targeted emails to qualified recipients.
I figure that initially, including development of the package that updates and uses my database, I'll spend an hour a day on this, but down the road it will drop to fifteen minutes.
Please see row 11.
Monthly Forecast
The monthly totals are found in rows 13 through 16.
Annual Forecast
I develop my annual forecast by taking the twenty-fourth month, multiplying it by 12 (months), and then loading it by 10% each successive year.
Why 10%?
The seminar leader used that figure.
Besides, as I move into a higher fee spectrum, my prospects will be larger companies and I'll need to spend more time, perhaps running out to buy glossy paper.
Income Statement
I am granted 24 hours per day is all; I sleep, eat, play with the cat …
My most optimistic work day is 10 hours, for all that I get up at 4:00 a.m. and go to bed at 9:30 p.m, I travel to meetings, wash the dishes, meet Bill for coffee, and so on.
I have therefore (see row 28) 200 hours available to me each month.
And so (see row 30) I have 90 hours a month left over for travel to and attend seminars, purchase supplies, meet contacts for coffee, and so on.
As the months go by and I get better at the daily grind, I have more time available for activities other than phone, prospect and emails, and after a year, things settle down to a steady and predictable pace.
My annual statements (rows 33-35) are based on the same fixed number of working hours available to me (12 months of 200 hours each month); a 10% loading (as my clients require more service time for bigger contracts), and a consequent reduction in time available for other activities.
Will It Compute?
How accurate will this be?
I have a little billing tool based on a Notepad file with a .LOG header that records my start and stop time for each task.
I ought to be able to compare my actual time spent phone/prospect and email against my scheduled and predicted loads.

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