January 2, 2024

What do systems have to do with ditching hourly?

The central theme of my work is that you should stop trading time for money. By doing so, you will sidestep the many horrors of hourly billing.

Five related subject areas orbit around this central theme that I talk about all the time (and that all conveniently start with the letter P):

These five subject areas work together to allow independent professionals to race to the top instead of the bottom.

To set higher and more profitable fees while delivering better client outcomes.

To become the go-to person in their chosen space.

To escape the feast/famine roller coaster that is one of the defining characteristics of the hourly trap.

To this list of five subject areas, I’m adding a new P:

And for me, increased productivity comes primarily from building systems.


I’m glad you asked!

First off, systems are a vital component of productizing your services.

You can’t be very successful at productizing something if you don’t at least have an SOP for it.

The more streamlined you can deliver your productized service, the more profitable it will be for you.

Things like templates and checklists and libraries and boilerplate and automations and so on will allow you to deliver more faster, and for the same (or higher) fees.

But even if you don’t offer productized services - heck, even if you are still billing by the hour - systems thinking can decrease your labor intensity on all the boring, mundane, and repetitive aspects of running a business.

For example... here are just a few of the joyless client-facing activities that are common to service businesses:

(If I added in typical marketing activities, this list would be 5-10 times longer. And of course... you’re doing marketing, right? RIGHT?!)

As a service provider, your number one cost is your time. If you can get as much done in less time for the same money, you have increased your profitability.

This is true whether you’re billing by the hour or not.

If you are still trading time for money, systematizing your non-billable administrative activities is like giving yourself an instant raise.

If you aren’t trading time for money, you can systematize almost everything to some useful degree, including much of your client-facing work.

This is absolute rocket fuel for your profit margins.