It’s About Time

My local tv news just featured a booming business called Vegas Errands. The owner is a young woman who responded to an ad on Craigslist, and ended up starting her own service business. As the story reported, business is booming. That didn’t surprise me.

Asked whether they would rather have an extra $100/week or five more hours, the overwhelming majority of Americans polled said they’d take the time.  We’re not the only folks wanting more time, however.

An article in London’s Daily Express newspaper reports that a study found busy Brits are now spending an average of £114  ($170) each month to buy three hours and ten minutes of extra time.  The study, conducted by an online bank, concluded, “Making time for yourself, doing things you enjoy, are crucial to mental and physical health. The report shows that people are willing to spend significant sums to do this.”

All this rushing around was discussed in The Popcorn Report where trendspotter Faith Popcorn named this trend 99 Lives. She  says, “We scramble to keep up. We scramble to keep track.  And we have other crusades. To stay young, get fit, live healthy. Achieve self-fulfillment and conquer self-doubt. Win friends and influence people. Get rich, get smart. Accumulate toys and trophies. Save the planet, save ourselves. Test out the theory that nothing is impossible.” Then she concludes, “What we really want is to buy back time. Marketers that help us do that will be the all-time winners.”

Obviously we can’t package and sell time, but creating a business that saves people time is the next best thing. Once limited to domestic things such as cleaning and babysitting, time saving services have grown imaginative. Find ways that will save time for your customers and clients or create a business that has time saving at its core and you’ll be helping solve a common problem. Here are a few ways of doing that.

  • Deliver the goods. “Leave the driving to us,” was the slogan of Greyhound Bus. Today it’s a slogan that is being adopted by all sorts of delivery services.

    Grocery and meal delivery services have had uneven success in many cities, but the basic concept remains sound. While some of the larger companies have failed, smaller specialty delivery is thriving.

    I bought a sofa a while back and the store had no delivery service of their own, but put me in touch with two men with a truck who I hired for a reasonable fee. A retired couple I knew delivered tickets for travel agencies while a small courier service specializes in deliveries for legal offices.

    Then there are people who travel the country delivering cars from one area dealer to another. This is a perfect business for people who like being out and about.

  • Be portable. Savvy service providers save their customers time by coming to their homes or businesses. I’ve been meaning to find a massage therapist but hadn’t had time to do so. When a woman in one of my seminars mentioned that her daughter had a mobile massage business, I promptly asked for her brochure and called to set up an appointment. Personal trainers have also found that getting out of the gym and into their client’s homes has been good for business. And for a small fee, a man in Texas will do an inspection on a used car you’re thinking of  buying.

    Everyone knows what a drag it is to lug a defunct computer to the repair shop. The Geek Squad gave itself a competitive edge right from the start by making housecalls. While services that require special equipment (like dental drills) aren’t easily mobilized, some innovators are outfitting a van or motorhome and taking their business to their clients.

  • Edit. In this information drenched time, opportunities exist for those who can scan vast amounts of information and cull out the most important. Specialized newsletters and websites keep popping up all the time to save readers investigative time.

    Similarly, professional organizers and declutterers help clients weed out unnecessary things and activities and become more efficient.

  • The Ultimate. For years upscale hotels have offered the services of a concierge to their guests. Today that’s expanding into a lively self-employment opportunity.  What does a concierge do exactly? According to the website of the National Concierge Association, “A concierge is a caretaker, someone who wants to be needed, give advice and help other people.”

    Many people think of concierges as miracle workers. While they may specialize in the difficult, they also make ordinary arrangements that save their clients precious time. This is a particularly fascinating business for those who love challenge and diversity. Today’s concierge delights in serving their clients with grace and charm—and making it look effortless.

    If you can do something, make something, or license something that helps unclutter busy lives, you are bound to find yourself on your own fast track to success.