Anyone who is serious about building a business needs to be clear about both spending and investing their time and what that means. 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 later.
Sometimes that means devoting large chunks of time to creating a product that won’t generate revenue for months. Other times our investment may be a demonstration of faith in ourselves and our vision.
Here seven smart ways to invest your time, whether you’re the CEO of a start-up or simply want to keep yourself and your enterprise invigorated.
Hang out with some wise guys: Put yourself in regular contact with the best entrepreneurial thinkers who generously share their insights with anyone who cares to listen.
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 their ideas can be put to work in your enterprise.
Reach out and connect: I am growing quite weary of folks who declare that they can’t be bothered with social media or building new 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. But 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 your business is growing to get swept along in the tide, but in order to create something satisfying and profitable, a regular evaluation is an essential tool. Put it to work for you.
This is also the time to consider the ROI you are—or are not—receiving and act accordingly.
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 make it a top priority when making decisions.
Be willing to practice: By now, you’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s infamous rule—that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master in your field.
I’m not sure how accurate that number may be, but it’s certainly true that those who excel invest heavily in practice. Try to work out what you’re not so good at, and focus on improving that one aspect.
Take the boss for a walk: Any creative enterprise will profit from a frequent change of scenery—no matter how brief. Have you noticed how diplomats often go for a walk together when negotiations break down? Walking can both calm us down and stir up ideas and solutions.
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.
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.
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