Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Where to invest your time in a startup

This post was originally published to NETT.

As our business grows a question we're asking ourselves more and more is 'Where should we invest our time?'

Early on we were of course focusing our time on key tasks like building the website, customer service, PR and marketing. And those areas are still critical to our business. However early on if opportunities came up to present at a conference or meet with someone in the startup space we had the time to grab them with both hands. We no longer have the same amount of time. We're limiting the time we spend in meetings and instead we're holding TechTalks and we've started a Sydney entrepreneurs running club to meet other people in the industry. We're now being selective in regards to the events we speak at taking up opportunities to speak at key online retail events but turning down other events like an online payments conference and more general chamber of commerce events. While these activities are helpful in building ours and our businesses profile, and in an ideal world they'd be great to do, the return we get on our time from them is lower than we can get working on other aspects of our business, so we need to be selective about where we spend our time.

When faced with the decision of whether or not to do a particular activity we need to ask ourselves not only whether the activity will give a positive return on our time, but whether that return is higher or lower than the other activities we can be spending our time on.

How do you determine where to invest your time?

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  1. Hi Michael,
    Good post, I am currently facing this dilemma now. It becomes especially hard when you are trying to build a business after hours while keeping your "day job". I always think of what my current goal for the business is; then I make a small list of what needs to be done now to reach that. Then there is always a longer list of what needs to be done to reach my longer term goals. Those jobs can always be done later.

  2. Thanks Dion for the comment. Agreed that it can be tricky when you're working full time as well. Lists are great - and particularly when you can give yourself a measurable goal: "get X done by Y date so that we get Z signups". Makes it easier to track progress, and to stay motivated.