Time Spent Should Not Equal Money Earned

My snowblower quit running a couple of weeks ago.

If you live in the great white north like I do, a dead snowblower means dreading the next snowfall, and hoping for light and fluffy rather than wet and heavy, so you have a prayer of clearing it with only a shovel and a strong back.

Snowblower - Cindy Bidar -022213

Thankfully I Knew Who To Call

I don’t know anything about snowblowers except how to put gas in it, so I called a friend, who suggested we might need to change the spark plug. A trip to the auto parts store and $8.96 later and still no snowblower.

Another friend thought starter fluid would help. Again, nothing.

Finally, we contacted Todd, a friend of a friend who offered to take a look at it. He’s a pretty handy guy, and I’ve asked for his advice about everything from lawn mowers to car engines in the past. I wasn’t excited about trying to load this 200-pound behemoth into my Durango, though, so Todd graciously offered to drive across town to see if there was anything he could do, and to load it into his truck to take it home if necessary.


On Sunday afternoon Todd packed his tools and drove to my house. Took one look at the snowblower, yanked a wire from the box where the key is, and started it right up.

Turns out that key is not so much a starter, but simply a way to turn the snowblower off when you’re finished with it. And inside this little box something had gone wrong, leaving it permanently in the “off” position. By disconnecting the wire, he’d bypassed this switch and solved our problem.

Value Is Not Always About Time Spent

The whole thing took less than 5 minutes, and I was thrilled to have my snowblower back again.

I grabbed my purse and asked, “How much do I owe you?”

Todd waved a hand in my direction and said, “Ah, you don’t owe me anything. All I did was move a wire.

Whoa! Hold it right there!

Talk about a classic service provider mistake. I’ve done it myself, and I bet you have, too.

Because it “only takes a minute” to fix, we mistakenly place no value on it.

Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t paying for Todd’s time. I was paying for his knowledge, which I do not possess, therefore it has much greater value to me than the few minutes he spent on it.

What about you? Are you charging clients for your time or for your knowledge? Isn’t it time you started placing value on what you know, rather than just the minutes you spend on it?

I know I’ll be keeping that in mind as I move forward with my business plans. I hope you will, too.


  1. Oh, I’ve done this so many times. A lesson I need to get through my head for sure.

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