Invest Your Time Before You Invest Your Money

Tim Denning

According to the Gumroad Founder

Image credit: unsplash

I went down the Gumroad.

While preparing to build my second course focused on LinkedIn, I bought a course from another creator named Justin Welsh as part of my extended research. Justin uses Gumroad to promote and sell his course, which I’d never heard of. What’s interesting about Gumroad is its quirky founder, Sahil.

Sahil broke social media when he said, “Invest your time before you invest your money.”

It’s a different way to look at earning money online. Rather than going out and buying a bunch of digital products to get you all hyped up, he suggests the following:

Start running before you buy running shoes. Build something before you buy the domain. Learn via YouTube before paying for a course.

I agree with Sahil. Too often we get excited about an idea, and then run off and blow a whole bunch of money.

When you invest your time you have enormous leverage on yourself. Wasting time feels a lot worse than wasting a replenishable resource like money. You can’t get time back or relive your 20s and 30s, but you can always get another job or find another way to make back money.

Just ask a bankrupt.

A friend of mine is a bankrupt. He’s made back all of his money and lost it all again multiple times. What’s weird is, he seems to attract a lot of other bankrupts into his life. They compare notes over coffee, no joke. The verdict?

Bankrupts tend to make a lot of money on their 3rd or 4th business attempt.

The bankrupt philosophy is a strange one. They have this superpower where in their mind they aren’t afraid to lose money anymore. When you’re not afraid to lose money you act differently. You make radically different decisions. You have a sense of creative fearlessness that I certainly don’t have.

Time is a superior currency to money.

After you invest your time, set a goal to make $0

Money is a distraction.

I get messages all the time from fellow creators who are possessed by money. When you’re focused on money you become distracted instead of doing the work. The money will come when you have discovered your unique path to it.

I started writing online more than seven years ago. I didn’t invest a dollar into learning anything about writing. I starved myself. I forced myself to consume the free resources in google and do the hard yards.

Once I’d figured out the basics, I purposely had a goal to make $0. I wanted my 9-5 job to be my only source of income. In other words, “I wanted to get good, first.” The key is to invest your time in a skill and master it before you start spending your money.

Money can become an excuse. Money can buy you everything, except the discipline to spend a few years developing a skill.

Spending money isn’t a shortcut. Read that again.

You might have done well financially through your job and thought to yourself, “Now it’s time to blow all that money on a website and a rare .com domain name, and throw in a no-life, life coach for good measure.” Wrong.

I used the money I made from my day job to create a safety blanket around my after-hours work. Translated: I invested my savings in assets — stocks, crypto, gold, real estate trusts, etc. These investments allowed me to buy back my time while I figured out the whole creator/passion economy. I eventually reduced my 9–5 job hours by 20% and converted to a 4-day workweek.

Time built the skill.
Money protected the skill I was building.
Money earned from the skill slowly took over later on.

See the difference? The foundation is time.

Why don’t you invest your time?

  • You fear failure.
  • You haven’t decided.
  • You’re not ready to commit fully.

The last point is crucial. Being fully committed to building a skill is being willing to invest five years of time. It doesn’t mean you have to build a skill for five years to succeed. But it does mean you need to be willing to if that’s what it takes for you to reach your inflection point.

It’s scary to say, “I might be building this app for the next five years (aka 10,000 hours). A commitment of 10,000 hours is huge. That’s how you know you’ve decided and you’re not screwing around and masturbating over ideas.

Once you invest your time into skills, you’ll look at your life differently. You’ll commit to your goals in an upside-down way.

Money can fool you into believing there are shortcuts.

Investing time can help you see what happens when you build a habit, and turn it into a skill. The best skill I ever learned is how to write online. The same opportunity is available to you.

Start running with your current crappy pair of dirty Nikes and see if you like running first, before you invest money in a gym membership. That’s how to think about building a skill that can change your life.

Love the process. The money comes later.

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Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship


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