Every day you participate in activities that affect your business. Some tasks are more important than others, but they all help you move your business forward. Or so you think.
Have you ever thought of the time, money and energy you put into your business as an expense versus an investment? I bet the majority of what you’re doing is spending, when you really should be putting a lot more time into investing. What’s the difference?
Spending is essentially a trade-off. You buy supplies. You work on a project. You sell your product. You collect your money. You’re spending a finite amount of resources to get a finite amount of income. Then you have to start all over again. Investing, on the other hand, is planting seeds with no immediate ROI, but later on you get back exponentially more than you put in. Let’s break it down.
The Things You Spend Your Time, Money, and Energy On
I’m not going to cover the whole spectrum of businesses, but I’ll approach it from my own business as a web designer and online marketer. My primary work activity is web design projects. I put in my time and work to build a website. In return, I get a set payment for it. Then I have to start from square one again in terms of looking for new clients, negotiating deals, then going through the project cycle again. Those of you who are project-based businesses, or even product-based businesses, understand this pain.
Advertising is very similar. I pay a certain amount for ads, and the return is a website visit, email subscription or potential customer. But I have to keep spending to keep receiving. Like physical office supplies, you give a certain amount to get something in return of equal or hopefully greater value. It’s essential to run a business, but enough to grow a business.
The Things You Should Be Investing Your Time, Money and Energy In
I’ve started realizing that my time, money, and energy are limited resources. As I did the math, I would have to work significantly more hours than I have in a day to reach some of my goals. When I’m trading time for money, I’m limited by the number of hours in a day. But I realized that there were some other things I did that got me significant returns.
A blog post I wrote back in 2010, “Need a Second Business Line? Get Google Voice,” has accounted for 80% of my traffic for about 3 years. It wasn’t my best post and took about an hour to write. But it was useful to people and kept traffic growing on my site even when I didn’t post for months. Then more recently, my article on “Social Media Posting with Hashtags for Each Day of the Week” has accounted for 90% of my website traffic, growing it from 2,000 visitors a month to 4,000, then 6,000, then 8,000 and now over 10,000 – each consecutive month.
I realize that blogging is an investment. I put in a small amount of time once for an article. I may not see results from that post immediately, but then it continues to give me a return on my investment without any additional work. This is why I’ve started to write helpful PDF guides. They do take me several hours to write and create, but now I don’t have to do anything and they’ll continue to get me more email signups.
Some things I’m looking to build in the future are memberships with training videos for small business. Yes, I’ll still build websites because that’s what I enjoy. But I won’t be restricted by it. I’ll do it out of preference and not necessity, because I’m shifting my focus from expending my resources to investing my resources.
What do you think? Does this sound like a good idea? In your own business or nonprofit, what things are you spending yourself on, and what things could you be investing in?