Compared to the summer months, the fall and winter seasons can be a very full time for many entrepreneurs and small business owners. Initiatives designed to celebrate and recognize small business, such as Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, present many exciting opportunities to engage meaningfully in the larger start-up and small business communities.
These choices can easily fill up a calendar with the upswing of contests, learning opportunities, networking events and award ceremonies, to name a few. Falling on already-full plate of the usual commitments – which might include standard business operations, production, marketing and client services – the importance of choosing wisely becomes quickly evident.
Treating time as valuable currency can be a useful business habit to build early on. A common tendency, especially for first-time business owners and entrepreneurs, is to value one’s personal time and effort spent much less than any financial investments. Though this is especially evident for start-up businesses, young habits can easily carry through as a default unless they are examined.
So, how do you measure time and attention? Building a business case for time-choices can help. If you feel overwhelmed with the number of opportunities during the fall, and are not sure whether your business needs to be there or might be missing out, here are three metrics to consider:
1. True Time Spent
Hours and minutes are as much a currency as dollars and cents. For example: how much time will one networking event actually cost? In calculating this value of true time spent, consider:
- Length of the event, including formal programming and informal networking.
- Travel time to and from, if attending a physical event.
- Preparation time and mental bandwidth occupied (more on this below).
- Post-engagement activities, such as follow-up communications or digital sharing.
Having an accurate picture of the time spent can help manage your business expectations for competing priorities. Knowing that a two-hour event may truly occupy five to six hours can help you make more informed decisions.
2. True Cost of Engagement
In essence, true cost considers both time and money. Armed with the knowledge of true time spent can now provide a more whole investment picture.
- Above the financial cost of admission, what might the dollar figure be if your hours spent were also assigned a monetary value?
This is especially helpful if planning ahead for events as part of your business strategy, where the figures can tie into a line item in your business budget and cash flow.
3. Opportunity Cost and Cost / Benefit Analysis
The ultimate power of being a small business owner is in making choices. One hour and dollar invested in digital marketing is one that does not go toward direct product or service development. Recognize that saying yes to one event might divert from some activities (e.g. self-care and rest, business operations, direct client service time) to make room for others (e.g. market exposure, connecting with new clients, building new partnerships, gaining strategic insight).
Keep in mind that sometimes business owners naturally do the above analyses and preparations on-the-fly, and that an entrepreneurial gut feeling can trump a metrics-based evaluation. Instead, simply consider this guide to be a more nuanced business approach to making engagement decisions that feel strong and align with your business goals, if you find yourself struggling with too many choices.
Whatever your approach, do take advantage of the opportunities that these months present for you and your business. Though there are year-round resources to support entrepreneurs in the nitty-gritty of starting and running a business, it’s not as often that being an entrepreneur is so publically celebrated in community.
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