So, the other day I ask The Chilean to stop at the store on his way over and pick up some chicken.
He gets here, plops down this bag, and proceeds to pull out a whole chicken, gripping it by the legs and asking me where I want him to put it. The conversation that followed went as such:
Me: What do you think this is, Thanksgiving?
Him: What are you talking about?
Me: That's a whole chicken! Do you know how long that'll take to cook? Do you know that I don't even know how to cook that thing?
Him: You asked me to pick up a chicken.
Me: No–no–I did not ask you to pick up a chicken. I asked you to pick up chicken. You know–like the boneless, skinless kind that you put in the pan, douse it in something that has the word “garlic” on it, and hope for the best?
Him: Ohhhhh, that. Well, buying it whole is a lot cheaper.
Me: Oh, I see. So just because it would be a lot cheaper to ride my bike to China–even though it will take me exponentially longer than flying–that means I should?
And so went our friendly, chicken-blood-soaked banter. While it's true that the whole chicken may have been cheaper, it also happens to take a lot longer to prepare. And frankly, I didn't want to spend my romantic evening hanging out by the oven. As I watched him gut the thing, throwing slime all over my sink, I tapped my foot impatiently thinking about how nice it would be if we were drinking a nice glass of wine and talking during the few hours we had together, instead of him juggling organs around on my counter. Because, if he had gotten the boneless, skinless, it would have been in the pan already.
And that comes back to a very entrepreneurial mindset–to me, my time is worth paying the extra money.
To have been able to spend my time that night the way I wanted to, whether or not I had to spend an extra few bucks on the chicken, would have been worth it. And that's only one example that's presented itself recently.
But how I spend my personal time isn't the point; the point is how this applies to business, and how we aren't doing ourselves any favors by working more in order to save ourselves some money, when our time is very, very limited.
In business, you've only got so many hours in the day. And maybe, you don't even want to work all of the available hours in the day.
So if that's the case, then it means that we don't need to work longer hours; it means we've got to work smarter hours.
The most common mistake I see is new entrepreneurs or small business owners spending a lot of time doing things THAT THEY THINK THEY'RE SUPPOSE TO BE DOING, without ever assessing the real return on their investment. They just do it because that's what everyone does, right?
Stop trying to fit the mold.
The mold is useless if just a lot of people think it provides value, without it actually providing any value. The standard isn't always the standard because it's good; sometimes, the standard is what it is, simply because no one has ever bothered to challenge it before.
And mediocre standards based on complacency isn't what you want to be making your business decisions around.
Be the person who challenges the standard. Be the person who raises it.
Don't waste your time doing things that are done out of tradition only. Do things that will have the most impact on your business in the shortest amount of time–whether they're traditional or not. And, in some cases, whether you've got to spend an extra few bucks.
If it saves you time, and you think the impact is there, it's worth it.