How many clients can you serve in the time you’re available to work?

That’s what we’re calculating in this entry.

If you’re a self-employed service provider with one to three main offerings wondering whether the numbers work for you to provide the service you have in mind and bring home the profit you need in the time you have available, then this two-part series is for you.

In this first part, we’ll look at your working hours and see how many clients you should aim to serve each month without approaching burnout.

In the next part, we’ll look at the money to check whether that’s financially sustainable.

businesspeople shaking hands and smiling

Ideally, you’ll want to get your copy of the accompanying spreadsheet to follow along with your own numbers.

Today, we’ll go through the top part: calculating how many clients you can serve step by step. Let’s dive right in!


There are 52 weeks in a year.

How many weeks of holiday do you want to take?

4? 2? 12? It’s entirely up to you! Get out the calendar and think it through. Let’s say you decide on 5 weeks.

Subtract 5 from 52. That leaves you with 47 weeks to work.

Days per week

How many days per week do you want to work?

1? 3? 5? Again, entirely up to you. Look seriously at your schedule and work out what you want to commit to.

Let’s say you decide on 5 days a week.

Multiply 47 x 5 to get 235 days to work each year.

days of the week flipping past

Individual days off

How many extra days off do you want to take?

There are usually 8 bank holidays in the UK each year. Do you want to take all of them off work? None?

In addition, look at the calendar and think about any other days that are special to you that you might want to not work. Birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Also, consider whether you want to do something like have one 3-day weekend every month (if you’re working 5 days a week).

If you’re only working 1-4 days a week, it might be that you’ll simply choose the special day or the bank holiday as your day off that week. Give it some thought and see what you want to do.

If you’ve decided to work 5 days a week, sometimes those birthdays and anniversaries will fall on your 2 days off, but most of the time they won’t, so count them all.

Let’s say you decide to take all 8 bank holidays off plus 3 extra days for a total of 11 individual days off.

Subtract 11 from 235 to get 224 days to work each year.

Hours to work

How many hours per day do you want to work? 2? 12? 8? It’s entirely up to you. It may be that you don’t have the same number of hours available every day. In that case, take the average. Let’s say you plan to work
  • 10 hours
  • 10 hours
  • 10 hours
  • 5.5 hours
  • 2 hours
To take the average, first we’ll add these: 10 + 10 + 10 + 5.5 + 2 = 37.5. Then we divide by 5 days to get an average 7.5-hour workday. Right, so now multiply your 224 days per year to work by 7.5 hours to get your total number of working hours: 1,680.
alarm clock

Split between client time and everything else

In every business, there are overheads of time: things you must do that aren’t bringing in money directly. Marketing, admin, bookkeeping, CPD, regulatory compliance, reading industry news, managing a team, and more.

What is your current split between client time and non-client time?

If you don’t know, I strongly recommend using a time tracking app to find out. There are several good free choices, such as Toggl Track, Clockify, and Paymo.

If you don’t know:

  • If you are a solopreneur – the only person in your business – then start by assuming a 50/50 split between the two.
  • If you have a small team, start by assuming an extra 10% of client work per extra team member. For example:

    • If you have one colleague, assume you spend 60% of your time on client work.
    • If you have two colleagues, assume you spend 70% of your time on client work.
  • Don’t assume that you’re spending more than 80% of your time on client work. It would be great if that’s true, but make sure you find out from tracking your time before you use that number in your calculation.

Let’s say you track your time and find that you’re currently spending 50% (half) on client work.

That means that of your 1,680 hours to work, you have 840 available for client work.

Monthly client slots

Remember, we’re focused on how many slots you have available per month.

So we’ll divide our 840 hours per year by 12 to get 70 client hours per month.

Now, it could be that you’re looking for monthly retainer clients, such as for coaching or social media management.

Or, it could be that you provide a one-off service that’s done within a month, such as LinkedIn profile writing or simple website builds, and this is how many new clients you need each month.

pair of people in a meeting

How long does it take you to deliver your main service?

You probably have more than one service, but for the purposes of this calculation, consider your main service – the one you enjoy most and want to sell the most. (Hopefully this is also your most profitable service, too!)

Not just the time the client sees – all the behind the scenes work, too.

So if you’re a coach, the client may book you for 4x 1-hour sessions in that month. But do you need to write up notes about the sessions? Do research between sessions? (Genuine questions; I’ve never thought to ask a coach, so I’m not sure what between-session work they may have.)

Or, if you’re a website designer and developer, you may have 2x 1-hour meetings with the client per month until it’s finished, but you’ll be doing a great deal of work between those sessions. How long do you expect to spend on this particular package?

This is where it’s best to use time tracking to discover how long it really takes. It’s almost always longer than we expect.

Let’s say you discover that your main service takes 10 hours per month.

So, we’ll divide our 70 client hours per month by 10 hours per client to get 7 client slots per month.

When you’re visualising, manifesting, and marketing, you can now keep that magic number 7 in mind. That’s how many clients you can serve each month in the time you have.

Ideal number of clients

Now, you can pause and consider what it’s like to work with 7 clients per month.

Is that too many for you? Too few?

What does that look like in your day-to-day?

How do you need to distribute those 10 hours to get the work done?

Frequency of client work time

Let’s say there’s a one-hour meeting once, leaving you 9 hours. Perhaps you’ll aim to work in 4-hour blocks fortnightly on this package. So, it might look like:
  • Week 1: 4 hours’ work
  • Week 3: 4 hours’ work
  • Week 4: 1 hour meeting + 1 hour post-meeting (to write your notes, action some items, etc).
Overall, you’d work on each client’s stuff generally every other week. Does that suit you? And the kind of work? The kind of deadlines involved in your work? Take some time to think it through and see if it would work for you.
person icon connected to 7 other person icons by lines

Too many clients

Maybe you decide that juggling 7 clients at once is more than you’d like, for your disposition and kind of work.

In that case, consider what happens if you deliver your main service in 11.5 hours instead of 10 hours.

We’ll divide your 70 client hours per month by 11.5 hours per client to get 6.09 client slots, which we’ll call 6.

What extra can you deliver in that 1.5 hours to increase the value of your service, so that you can charge more for it?

Too few clients

Alternatively, you might prefer to have 10 clients, so that if any of them walks away suddenly, you’re only down 10% of your income.

In that case, you’ll want to drop your hours per client to 7, so that 70 client hours per month divided by 7 hours per client gives you 10 clients per month.

How can you shave off 3 hours?

You might ratchet down your service offering to do so: offering a one-page website instead of a 3-page website, for example.

You’ll also then be able to sell it for a lower price, making it probably easier to attract more clients (though this depends on your service and your target market).

Or you might outsource 3 hours’ worth of work to someone else: getting someone else to put together the reels each month for your social media management package, for example.

What works for your service, your audience, and your gut?

four people in a meeting

Other services

You probably have more than one service.

Smaller services

Consider your next service. Let’s call it service B. We’ll call your main service we looked at earlier service A.

How long does it take to deliver service B? Check your time tracking logs.

Let’s say that one takes 5 hours per month.

In that case, each of those is one-half of a client slot. You might want 4x service B clients and 5x service A clients.

Bigger services

Consider your next service. Let’s call it service C. Let’s say you’re planning this one; you’ve not yet delivered it. You have no time tracking logs, but based on your planning, you expect it to take you 30 hours per month to deliver. So that will take 3 client slots. Now, you might aspire to a mix like this:
  • 2x service A clients (2x client slots)
  • 4x service B clients (2x client slots)
  • 1x service C client (3x client slots)
Sara-Jayne Slocombe

What you’ve gained

By breaking down your services this way, you can judge better:

Whether you’re overloading yourself before you take on projects.

When you’re self-employed, it can be very hard to say no when work comes your way. But if you can see in advance that you’ll be overloaded, you can make a better decision about it. Will you just be overloaded for a few weeks? Perhaps that’s do-able for you. Or can one of your prospects wait until you finish some other projects? Or can you bring in some outside help, either temporarily or permanently?

Whether you’re diversifying enough

If you’re relying on one or two main clients for most of your income, it’s a huge financial blow if they stop using your services. Serving several clients helps insulate you from this.

How to structure your services and the time involved

By really thinking through how often you’ll be touching each client’s work, you’re better able to judge whether it’ll work for you.


You’ve eyed the calendar and your weekly schedule critically to make sure you’re really accounting for all the time you’re not available to work.

You’ve eyed the time tracking logs and ensured you’re using good numbers for how long it takes to deliver your services.

You’ve calculated how many clients you can serve each month with your main service.

You’ve pondered how that looks in your day-to-day and ensured that’s a good number for you.

You’ve worked out how your other services fit into these client slots, and some combinations of clients you might aim for.

You’ve worked out what’s sustainable in terms of your hours of work: to avoid burnout.

Next, it’s time to consider the bottom part of the spreadsheet: your prices and your profit to make sure this is all financially sustainable so that you can pay the bills and live the lifestyle you’re aiming for. That’s in the next blog entry.

Hi, I’m Sara-Jayne Slocombe of Amethyst Raccoon. I help your small business thrive using the power of your numbers, empowering you so that you have the confidence and knowledge to run your business profitably and achieve the goals you’re after.

I am a UK-based  Business Insights Consultant, which means I look at your data and turn it into information and insights. I separate the noise from the signal and translate it all into actions that you can actually take in your business.

I also facilitate the Power Pod Roundtable, which is a business discussion group, and the AIM HIGH Mastermind, which is a small group of business owners who want to move their businesses forward.

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Sara-Jayne Slocombe