Question from the Mailbox
I have a consulting business I work from home. I recently quoted a new client for a project but spent way more hours than I had planned on the project. Should I bill the client for the additional hours?
The answer to this would greatly depend on the reason for the overrun. Did the client add extra tasks to the project that were not on the original proposal? If so, then this consultant would be justified in billing the client for those extra hours spent. This brings up a point: When you do consulting work as a home based business, make sure and keep detailed records of what you are doing for each client and how long you spend doing each task. This way, you can refer to the records when a billing issue like this arises.
Another possibility here is that the consultant spent more time on the project than quote because she did not quote it accurately to begin with. This is a common problem especially among new consultants who are just getting a feel for their project work. A certain amount of educated guessing is involved, but the more projects you take, the better you will be able to forecast your work. If this is the case, this consultant should just suck up the extra hours and learn from it. Again, keeping good records of your consulting work will help you learn from that experience for the next project.
When you have a home based consulting business, you and your time are your billable resources for revenue. The more accurate you can be in quoting your time, the fewer ‘lost hours’ (lost revenues) you will have.