Time versus money. It’s the eternal dilemma. Balancing those two precious resources can be a challenge. For a lot of us, when we’ve got some money, we tend to be short on time. When we’ve got enough time, we find ourselves short on money.
Unfortunately, many of us feel short on both fronts all the time.
Assuming your budget and time constraints aren’t too severe, most of us do decide to spend a little money to save a bit of time. We don’t make our own shoes, for example. And (unless we call it a hobby) we find it more expedient to buy vegetables than to grow them.
If you run a small business, you have to make time versus money decisions constantly. There’s no way around it.
Sometimes, you get lucky. You find a new trick that saves time and costs nothing. Or you spy a new shortcut that costs a wee bit, but saves several hours. That’s what this post is for. All of the online services mentioned below can free up several hours of time every week. Some are for your professional life, others are for your personal one. Hopefully, all of them will be affordable enough to easily be worth paying for.
1) Amazon Prime. Or any other fast, free shipping service.
Have you ever calculated how much time you spend running errands? Stopping by a store for this… making an extra trip for that. It adds up. Even conservatively, each one of those extra trips takes out half an hour of your day.
Enter Amazon Prime – or any other online retailer you can find that offers free, fast shipping.
Don’t skip over those two criteria. The shipping has to be free, or you’ll lose ground on the money part of this time-saving tip. And it has to be fast, otherwise you won’t be willing to wait for your stuff to get to you. You’ll just run out to the store instead.
This works especially well if you obey the rule of twos. If there’s a basic product you know you’ll continue using, when you run out, buy two. Never buy just one.
Buying two cuts your restocking time in half. It means you’re less likely to look into a cabinet and not have what you need immediately. It also means that if you use things that aren’t always available (even from stores), you’ll have a stash on hand.
The con to this? You’ll need to have your cabinets and storage reasonably organized. And you’ll need enough storage space for your backups. Usually that’s not a problem, but some of you city-dwellers in micro-apartments don’t have a lot to work with.
Want to save three hours or more a week? Find online merchants with fast, free shipping programs and start buying everything in sets of two. Just getting groceries delivered can save several hours a week.
2) Fancy Hands – or any bite-sized online task outsourcing service.
Ever read The Four Hour Workweek? If you have, you probably appreciate the awesome power of outsourcing. But I’d rather you started small with your outsourcing. Give it a spin before you do it at the scale Timothy Ferris did. Fancy Hands and other services like it are an ideal place to start.
For $50 a month you can get 15 requests completed. Tasks typically include research, making phone calls, and placing online orders. Need to send flowers to your Mom for her birthday? Done. And they can get you a 20% discount.
Also checkout Fiverr, where you can get almost any online task done at this point. Just be careful to work with only top-rated sellers, and know exactly what you need to get done going in.
Fiverr can be a great place to get basic business tasks done affordably (for $20 or less). Just be sure to work with reputable sellers.
3) Task Rabbit – or any bite-sized offline task outsourcing service.
If you’re in the camp of the money-rich-but-time-starved, you need to at least know TaskRabbit and its kin exist. (In Australia? Check out AirTasker.
So what is it? A way to get small, or even large tasks done in the real world. Stuff like:
- Having your dog picked up, brought to a vet appointment, and brought back home.
- Getting someone to take a pile of stuff you want to donate to GoodWill (and bringing you back the receipt for the tax deduction).
- Dropping off laundry, shipping packages, getting things fixed, buying or renting equipment.
You get the idea. Basically, your entire Saturday errands just could be outsourced by TaskRabbit. Much of the chaos of Christmas (like finding a tree, and stringing up lights) could be outsourced, too. And it’s a lifesaver for parties.
4) Hire a freelance editor.
As this post is written for solopreneurs and other small business owners, I’m going to assume you do some level of content marketing. Maybe you’ve got a blog, for instance. You probably also publish an email newsletter, given the site you’re reading this on.
If you publish even some content, it’s worth your time to consider hiring an editor. Here’s why:
- Some studies have found that one typo can cut a website’s online sales in half.
- It’s hard for us to see our own typos.
- Careful proofreading takes time and focus. As a business owner, you’re already too short on both those things.
- A good editor can make you look even smarter than you are already.
The first bullet there alone is reason enough to hire a proofreader/editor. But there’s another powerful time-saving reason to hire one: Blogging.
As you know all too well, writing blog posts takes time. It’s tempting to want to outsource it, and that does work really well for some companies. But as a solopreneur or a really small business, your expertise is probably the core value of your company. Your expertise needs to be in your blog posts. That’s why I believe that you should be writing – or at least drafting – the content on your site.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t hire an editor to take a messy first draft and make it into a thing of beauty. It’s what Neil Patel does. It’s one of the tricks that lets him write eight blog posts a week.
5) Website maintenance.
If you’re a web designer or developer by trade, you probably don’t need any help with your website. The rest of us do. And even if you do know how to futz with WordPress, there are probably better ways to spend your time – like finding more business.
Web maintenance can and should be outsourced.
The trouble is how. Good, reliable web designers/developers, with an understanding of SEO, user experience and conversion, are expensive. And they should be.
Also, finding and working with a web designer can be time-consuming. Or at least time consuming enough that if you know how to do the basics on your site, you might skip outsourcing this work simply because getting the work done requires so much back and forth.
Need design support, but you’re not quite ready to hire a designer? Undullify can bridge the gap.
Undullify is the more affordable of the two. You can get just one design task done for $39, or spend $89 per month for unlimited design tasks with a 3-day turnaround. Their more expensive packages offer faster turnaround times and other benefits. You also get a dedicated designer.
DesignPickle is much more expensive at $370 per month. If your business is growing fast but you still aren’t quite ready to hire a full-time designer, this might be your solution.
These services can also help with spiffing up your social media marketing and other promotion efforts.
There is actually a solution to the time versus money dilemma – at least for people who manage small online businesses. It’s outsourcing. Outsourcing effectively, strategically, and affordably. I hope at least one of the services mentioned here can help you do that better.
What do you think? Are you outsourcing any small tasks for your business? Are there any time-saving tools you like I haven’t mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments.