In my experience talking with individual clients and companies, there’s a common thread I’ve seen when they’re stuck in a problem: they value money more than they value time. Too many clients would prefer to spend time on a problem in order to save money, instead of the other way around. They’ll say, “Whoa, that’s a lot of money to fix that problem. I could solve it on my own eventually, so I’ll do that instead.”
Let’s talk about why this is the exact wrong thing to do.
Before we get into the time & money discussion, let’s try a little logic puzzle. This is a syllogism which should sound plausible to you:
All X’s are Z’s.
All Y’s are Z’s.
Therefore, some X’s are Y’s.
This logic puzzle seems like it makes sense; both X’s and Y’s are Z’s, so of course some Y’s and X’s are the same! But try this one out:
All dogs are animals.
All cats are animals.
Therefore, some dogs are cats.
Now it doesn’t make sense, does it?
(Unless you’re this dog. Probably is a cat, too.)
What’s the Problem?
When we are dealing with topics we know a lot about, we can immediately understand if something makes sense or not. When the logic problem I used above talks about dogs & cats, you were able to see, right away, that it makes no sense.
When we switch to an abstracted unit of measurement, like X’s and Y’s, then it’s more difficult to make an accurate judgement.
This is what happens when we talk about time and money.
Time = Money
In the logic problem, Dogs = X. Cats = Y. And this is the stuff we learn in first year algebra, but it’s frustrating because it’s taking something we understand, and then turns it into an abstraction.
When we think about Time = Money, it’s the same problem; we lose track of its real value.
Most people trade their time for dollars in the form of a paycheck or salary. Then, we spend those dollars on goods, services, or experiences.
When it comes to your business, you’ve worked hard for the cash you earn. You’ve poured your whole life into developing the skills you need to do the best you can for your clients.
That’s why taking any longer than you have to to solve a problem isn’t in your best interests, nor the interests of your clients.
When you decide to spend time on a problem instead of money, you’re essentially paying twice to fix it. You’ve already spent time to earn the money, but then are choosing to spend more time on something other than what makes you money.
This is time you could be spending helping your clients. This is time you could be spending with your family. This is time your could be spending at a conference learning more about what you’re already great at.
You can always get more money, but you can never get your time back. This is the heart of the problem for folks who would rather save a couple dollars by doing it themselves. As long as the money you make is tied to the time you spend getting it, spending time on a problem instead of dollars is costing you the most precious thing you have: your time.
Even when you’re broke, you’ll still have to decide how to spend the 86,400 seconds you have every day. Spend them wisely.
The next time you think, “I’ll save some money and do it myself” ask yourself if this is the best way to spend your time; not money. Don’t be “penny smart, and a dollar foolish” as the saying goes.
If you’re still trading time for dollars, this is doubly true for you, too!
(Eventually you can uncouple your income from the time you’re spending, and that’s a conversation for another day. . .)
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