Time and Money

January 30, 2013
By Jamie McHale

Time equals money, apparently. But how do we value each?

Time and money clock

photo credit: Î’ethan

When starting a tech startup it is often easy to get going on a limited budget. The tools that you use to code are free. A domain is pennies, and starter hosting can cost virtually nothing. You can make considerable progress on limited resources.

But time is a finite resource too. You have limited hours in the day and “the arrow of time moves in one direction”. Are you trading your time for money saved?

With my startup Seeu.at we’ve been able to get by on very limited resources. We built bits of the product, tested them out, spoke to potential customers and to potential users. We launched a trial version of the site – that allows people to plan nights out with their friends and find local offers. We shouted about it on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

A trickle of users came in. Enough for us to subjectively learn what worked, and what didn’t work. Often it was fairly obvious in retrospect! But now the product is a little more refined, and we need to test with a larger volume of users in order to get a higher quality of data. We needed to start being objective about our decisions.

We can, and will, continue to build our presence on social media, blogs and with word-of-mouth marketing. But that will take time. The longer we go on, the longer we may be heading down the wrong route.

*We know what we need to learn. *

Our business model has variables for which we only have guess-timates. So I asked: “what are we waiting for?”

That’s why we launched a Facebook and Google AdWords campaign last week. The dynamic of our efforts has changed now – we know that every click costs, and optimisation is at the forefront of our minds.

Nothing focuses the mind like spending money!

But we know that time is valuable too – so why does it not provide the same personal incentive as money? It’s all to easy to justify a little more time to yourself. We are good at rationalising time spent. Particularly time developing the product!

In the long-run, it’s better to put your money where your mouth is and get the idea tested quickly. So take the plunge – set out an advertising budget. How much is finding out about your users worth to you? How much is your time worth to you? If you are serious, spend something!