Saturday, February 6, 2010

There's No Value Without Constraints

I didn't understand the concept of value until my time went away.

When I was young, my free time seemed endless. If something were too expensive, I would try to find out how to make it. I assumed that spending 10 hours to build my own toy was cheaper than spending $10 on one. I had time. I didn't have money.

Now my time is scarce. I carefully consider how much time I want to devote to each activity that I undertake. I'm constantly worried about the benefits I receive from what I'm doing. Am I spending my time in the most beneficial way that I could be?

Five years ago, if you would have told me that for $10 you could sell me an extra hour of time that I could use for whatever I wanted, I would have smiled and declined. "I have time. I'll keep my ten bucks."

Today, I'd gladly take your offer if it were genuine. I'm regularly busy from the moment I wake up until the minute I go to sleep. There are not enough hours in the day to do all that I would like to do, and if you could take away one of the items on my to-do list, I'd pay. By saving me time or producing something so I don't have to, you are providing value to me.

There are exceptions . . . I wouldn't pay you to learn for me - I get value from the the information that I'm learning. I wouldn't pay you to watch a movie for me - I enjoy watching movies. But the point remains: because I face constraints in my life, there are still places where a smart entrepreneur could add value for me.

Save me time. Produce something that is useful for me. Create something that makes me happy. I'll pay for those things. I value them.