Unlocking Potential: 2 - Time

Reducing risk is a goal of almost every business owner. 

Almost. Because for some, the high-wire is their preferred state of being. A work-hard, play-hard, sleep-fast fueled journey of trial and error. 

As with all extremes, this one is counter-balanced. By an analytical, risk-averse approach that is instinctive to many business leaders. An approach that drives conversation and consternation. But not decisions.

But as management strategies, paralysis-by-analysis or jumping without a net both leave a business in the same state. 


The challenge is to find a management approach that creates economic return and emotional reassurance. For you and your clients. 

The key, in our experience, is how you use time.

In any service business there are two ways to charge your customers. By time or by value.

In the advertising industry, time has become the norm. A model that in most agencies works like this:

  1. Hire someone. 

  2. Give them an office. 

  3. Technology. 

  4. Benefits. 

  5. Add a profit margin. 

  6. Divide by 52 weeks

  7. Divide by 40 hours.

  8. Find a client willing to buy as many of those hours as possible.

A model that turns a company selling creativity into an employment agency.

And rewards it for working slowly. And for using a lot of people. To do anything.

Slow and big. A model for the Industrial Revolution.

But this is not a problem limited only to large enterprises. Smaller companies, particularly those selling specialized services, have developed their own version of this particular cognitive dissonance. Enthusiastically offering clients rate cards and line item estimates with promises of the time they will spend working on that project, while talking about their creative originality

A model which presents as unique creative inspiration. While turning the most valuable resource we own into a commodity. 

Because ideas are infinite. But time is finite. 

A reality we deny because measuring what is left is impossible. And undesirable. 

And so we exist with the conviction that though our time will come, it will not do so until we are ready. Until we have done what we set out to do. 

Even if we are not sure what that is.

But time is not free. For everything we do there is the opportunity cost of that which we chose not to do instead. 

In our youth, those choices are invisible. But as we mature, the choices we make become sharper, more consequential. A reality which affects our businesses even more severely. Size being an obstacle to flexibility.

Any business that sells creativity should have only one reference for how it measures time. 

What can I create from it?

The better that answer, the less your clients will care how long you take. 

And the more they will reward you for the difference you make.