Let’s start here — I’m not the world’s greatest handyman.
In many ways, I’m not much of a manly man. I don’t like to touch the fish on the end of the line, although I lived near the ocean for two years and grew up an hour from Lake Michigan. I’ve been hunting several times but not in the last two decades. Guns? I went to military college but haven’t shot a gun in years (although I recently held a good friend’s Luger last weekend). I like NASCAR but fixing my own cars is my version of the Nightmare on Elm Street. I’m a regular Freddy Kreuger with a tire iron or oil pan.
BUT I’ve changed my own oil. I’ve repaired my toilet. I’ve changed the screen on my doors.
I don’t do these things to save money….well, I take that back.
Indirectly I do it to save money, but directly I do it so that when I hire it done, I know that the person I hire can’t bullshit me.
I’m all for spending all of my time on my unique talent. Currently, that seems to be working on my podcast (we’ve nearly doubled our audience size since the beginning of the year). That means that I don’t want to spend time doing tasks with a much smaller ROI.
I’ve found that many misinformed and (let’s call it what it is) poor people perform tasks that they could offload for two reason: first, they think it saves them money; and second, they enjoy the task.
Both of those are rotten reasons to do anything.
The Myth of Saved Money
When I change the screens out in my window I’m losing money. The screen costs me $28, the tools to change it cost $3.50, and because I do it infrequently, it takes me forty five minutes to finish the job.
Is it worth the time? Hell, no. There’s a local guy here who’ll do the job (materials and all) for twenty bucks. At the same time, I could use that time to increase my podcast audience.
The lesson? Just because I’m not paying someone to do a job for me doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost attached. I have to think about opportunity cost as much as the amount of cash that actually leaves my pocket if I want a fair comparison of whether a job is profitable or not.
Wasting Time on Tasks You Enjoy
I love the task of putting together my podcast. Currently, here’s our workflow: I send out the raw files to Ivy (my wonderful editor), and then she sends them back so I can construct the show. I like putting cool little effects in the show. Often we’ll start with a funny sound clip. We have good music between segments, and we throw in surprises every show (those of you who listen know what I’m talking about).
I realized today that I can teach show construction to Ivy. Sure, I’ll pay her more, but I also know that with that time I’d spend it developing the property value of the Stacking Benjamins site. The cost/benefit is huge.
I hog many tasks just because I like them. Instead of enjoyment, I should be thinking about unique talent. What jobs do I NEED to do because those people around me can’t do them? For me, these are marketing-related tasks. I’m good in public. I should create video (although I have a face for radio). I should dump the Short Stack and instead move toward three full Stacking Benjamins episodes a week. I should look harder for a new sponsor for the show. There are many tasks I could be doing instead of the one I like (but that doesn’t pay)….editing the show.
The lesson? While it’s comfortable doing things that you enjoy, I love Marrissa Mayer’s advice. “I do things that scare me.” By pushing the envelope and handing off the simple tasks to others, you’ll grow your business…and also realize that you enjoy your unique talents even more as you get to spend time practicing them.
A do it yourself that I enjoy doing is cooking. If you’re interested in cooking too, a hilarious book to read is: Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)
Also, Paula Pant from Afford Anything is great at DIY and uses this ability to rent out homes and rooms. Read about her experience on her blog, Afford Anything.
In other news: Today I appear on the Wealth Anatomy podcast, discussing five unique financial planning challenges doctors face.
Here’s the link to the show or click the picture!