I’m not usually one for using cookbooks, I tend to just improvise when in the kitchen.
The other day, though, I decided to cook something from a popular cookbook.
It stated “preparation time” as 15 minutes, and “cooking time” as 30 minutes.
So, 45 minutes in total.
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Well. It took me an hour and a half … double the intended time!
When I analysed this to work out how it had taken me so much longer than it “should” have, it was pretty easy to see.
For one thing, I kept checking the recipe – again and again – to “double check” my next steps. This was bound to have slowed me down.
But mainly, it was the preparation. First of all, I “prepared” everything before I started cooking … which, I suppose, wasn’t the intention. I was meant to do it all as I went … as I cooked. It was a fairly complex recipe though, and it seemed to me like there was far less potential for things to go wrong if I had it all ready to go in advance …
And then there was the preparation itself. 15 minutes may be enough for someone who cuts and chops and fillets on a daily basis, but your average home chef is bound to take a while longer than a pro to cut an onion, let alone to fillet a fish …
So, that 45 minutes turned into an hour and a half.
It was worth it though, I’m happy to say. It was a very nice dinner.
And I know that next time I cook it, I’ll probably do it a bit faster … and it will probably taste a little bit better … as I now know, more or less, what I’m doing.
And if I cook this same recipe 50, or 100 times, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to do it in the 45 minutes, AND it would be pretty much the perfect version of that dish.
Why? Because on the whole … the MORE we do something, the BETTER we get at it. And the BETTER we are, the QUICKER we get at doing it.
Practice, as they say, makes perfect.
Now a bit of home cooking is one thing. But I realised this makes for a good analogy. As what if – hypothetically, of course – someone were to PAY me to cook this recipe for them?
Should it cost them more the first time I do it, when it takes me an hour and a half of my time … and isn’t likely to be the best version of the dish it could be?
Or should it cost them more the 100th time I do it, when it only takes me 45 minutes … and is as good as any professional would be able to make?
Because they’re not paying me for the TIME it takes me to cook the meal. They’re not paying me according to the minutes I spend cooking this particular dish …
They’re paying me for the all the times before … all those times I spent practising and perfecting it, so that I COULD produce the perfect dish in just 45 minutes.
Yet, if I was charging by the hour, my rate would need to be CONSIDERABLY higher at my 100th time, to reflect the TRUE value they are getting from the short 45 minutes I spend making it.
And that hourly rate is probably going to be harder for me to quote. Harder for me to “justify”. Harder for me to feel “worthy” of asking.
And THIS is something that we all need to remember when we’re looking at our prices.
Because maybe, when we’re charging by the hour … we’re UNDERSELLING ourselves.
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Maybe when charging by the hour, or the day, we’re making our client focus on the TIME it takes us to do the job … rather than the QUALITY of the job?
And maybe we don’t need to be considering how LONG a job will take us …
Maybe we just need to be considering how GOOD it will be?
How much VALUE it will be providing to our client?
The SOLUTION it will provide to them? And the QUALITY of the work they will receive?
Any maybe, by NOT using an hourly or a day rate … this will be easier for them to understand?
Maybe by having a fixed price – based on the quality and the value of what we’re providing … and on the years of experience it took us to be able to provide that – it’ll be easier to charge what we really deserve?
And maybe by charging for our output – our solution, rather than our time, we’ll have even more time available?
More time available for us … or more time available to earn more? Either way, a win-win, no?
So maybe we just need to remember our value isn’t based on the time it takes to DO a job … it’s based on all the time we spent before. It’s based on all the time we spent learning, and practising, and perfecting …