Why startup teams need time-tracking – even if no one’s paid hourly

By: Andrea Lotz Saturday May 30, 2015 2 comments


By Andrea Lotz


How much is your time worth? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your own time is your most valuable resource. You certainly can’t afford to waste it.Andrea_Lotz_blog_photoUSE

But if you’re like most entrepreneurs, much of your day probably goes by in a blur. You’re probably not sure exactly how long anything you did took—you were too busy doing what needed to be done.

Why does it matter? Because you have so much insight, clarity, and productivity to gain by simply understand where your time goes. And understanding where your team’s time goes is just as valuable, even if nobody’s getting paid by the hour. Here are five of the most important ways startups can benefit from a policy of time-tracking.

Understand how your most valuable resource is being spent

Time-tracking software can help startups value and account for the contributions of each team member, without tons of unnecessary paperwork or lengthy check-in meetings. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, it becomes obvious pretty quickly in the timecards.

But time-tracking is about so much more than measuring team members’ utility. Stop thinking of time-tracking as a bottom-up solution to address underperformers. Instead, consider it a cultural value on transparency, initiated and practiced from the top down.

Tracking your own hours has the potential to reveal areas where you’re spending a lot of time for disproportionately small returns. You can then target these areas, looking for ways to delegate or automate. The same goes for your team.

Tip: Growth takes time. Freeing yourself up for a few more hours each week could have dramatic results.

Increase the accuracy of budgeting and scheduling

In a startup, things always seem to take twice the time and twice the money that you predicted. It goes with the territory of breaking new ground.

But being able to accurately budget and schedule projects is a powerful thing—especially if these projects are billable to your clients!

By accurately tracking the time spent on past projects, startups can more accurately predict the cost and schedule of future projects. This protects you from going over budget, meaning fewer surprises for your clients.

Tip: Use the timecard information and milestones from similar past projects to see how the next project is going. If you’re behind, you can make adjustments before it’s too late.

Put your time where the money is

Most startups have that one client or project that seems to take too much time and tie up too many team members. Without knowing exactly how much time is being spent in those areas, it’s hard to calculate whether it’s worth the investment.

You may find that while that one client or task takes up 25 percent of the company’s resources, it generates more than enough revenue to pull its weight. Or you might find the opposite to be true.

Either way, you’re empowered to make a decision. Put your time where it’s doing the most work. Resources are simply too tight to sell your time at a loss.

Tip: Pareto’s principle says that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your work. Time-tracking can help you find what that 20% is.

Give your clients complete invoicing transparency

If you’re new to customer service, here’s a quick lesson. If your client wants it on the invoice, it needs to be on the invoice. Oftentimes, that means a breakdown of exactly how the time they’re paying you for was spent.

If you’re manually tracking this, or worse, estimating, you’re doing your clients and yourself a disservice. Make it clear how much value you’re offering them. Give them an accurate-to-the-minute breakdown, with notes as to what got done while you were working for them.

If you’re using time-tracking software, clocking in to client work can be seamlessly integrated, and that information can go straight to your invoice.

Tip: If your CRM is integrated with your time-tracking tools, this gets a lot easier. For example, in AllProWebTools, all work done for a client is stored (with timecard clock-ins and notes) in that client’s CRM profile.

Choose software that simplifies time-tracking

Here are some quick things to look for when choosing a time-tracking tool:

  • Cloud-based, mobile-enabled
  • Integration with other tools
  • Invoice creation
  • Overtime control and tracking
  • Reporting

Investing in time-tracking as a part of a larger business management system is a great way to make sure your startup tools stay scalable. But however you do it, start tracking your time today!

Andrea Lotz

About the Author: Andrea Lotz

Andrea is the resident writer for AllProWebTools. She loves to write about just about anything, especially small businesses, sustainability, and whatever is new and upcoming on the horizon.  She lives in Fort Collins and spends her free time cycling, welding, cooking, and playing ukulele.

Hi Andrea. Nice read! I'm the developer of http://www.dailytimeapp.com and believe that it can help employees of start-ups understanding how they are spending their time. Let me know if you want to review it. I'm more than happy providing you a promo code. Regards, Niels.

- Niels Mouthaan

Time tracking is important even if you work alone, not only in teams, i'm using http://timecamp.com and with that my work is more productive and I can see when I should take a break.

- Adam Small