“We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable,” Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber warned. Anyone who is serious about building a business needs to be clear about both spending and investing their time.
Just as we invest money in the expectation of a greater return in the future, we need to invest our time in the present in order to see a bigger reward in the future.
Sometimes that means devoting large chunks of time to creating a product that won’t generate revenue for months. At other times our investment may be a demonstration of faith in ourselves and our vision.
It’s a practice I discovered in the early days of my business when out of town trips often involved staying in less than elegant hotels and driving Ugly Duckling rental cars. In my heart I believed I was a good investment and was willing to trade present comfort for a brighter future.
Here are some smart ways to invest your time whether you’re a new startup or simply want to keep your self and your enterprise invigorated.
° Take the boss for a walk. Any creative enterprise will profit from a frequent change of scenery. Have you ever noticed how diplomats often go for a walk together when negotiations break down? Walking can both calm us down and stir up positive thoughts.
Even if your office or studio is the happiest place on Earth, moving around a botanic garden or browsing in a hardware store can rekindle your creative spirit.
° Hang out with some wise guys. Put yourself in regular contact with our best entrepreneurial thinkers who generously share their insights with anyone who cares to listen.
Seth Godin is at the top of my list, of course. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for his mailings and take advantage of his unique and profound insights at SethGodin.com.
Don’t try to listen to everybody who is offering advice. Find your favorites and pay close attention. Don’t just read and delete. Consider how you can put their ideas to work in your enterprise. Remember, too, that your team of trusted advisors may change over time.
° Reach out and connect. I am growing quite weary of folks who declare that they can’t be bothered with social media or building relationships.Yes, it takes time, but if you do it right, the rewards are huge.
It’s still true that we all like to do business with people we know and like. If people don’t know you, they can’t like you. Simple as that.
° Schedule 90-Day Inventories. Regularly invest time in looking at what’s working, what needs help and what’s ready to be discarded.
It’s easy when our business is growing to get swept along in the tide, but in order to create something satisfying and profitable, a regular evaluation is a valuable tool. Put it to work for you.
This is also a time to consider the ROI you are—or are not—receiving.
° Don’t be tricked by convenience. I once had a friend who was dating a most unpleasant man. When I challenged her choice of mates, she acknowledged his lack of character, but defended spending time with him by saying, “But he’s convenient.”
I’ve seen entrepreneurs use the same justification for hanging onto uncongenial clients or projects that no longer thrill them.
While there are certainly times when convenience makes sense, don’t give it a high priority when making decisions.
° Be willing to practice. I’m not sure if Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes 10,000 hours to master something is accurate or not, but it’s certainly true that those who become more than mildly adequate invest heavily in practice.
If you need encouragement to embrace this important activity, pay a visit to The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.
° Become a No Excuses Entrepreneur. It’s astonishing how quickly we can offer excuses when a creative solution is what’s needed. Unfortunately, excuses are extremely clever at worming their way into our minds and won’t leave unless we consciously evict them.
It’s like this: we can either have our excuses or we can have our dreams. We can’t have both. It makes sense to choose wisely.
The late Jim Rohn was a huge proponent of investing time wisely. He said, “Fortunately, life has a unique way of rewarding high investment with high return. The investment of time you make now may be the catalyst for major accomplishment. It is precisely this effort that will open the floodgates to the place where great ideas can work their magic.”