Strategic Investing for Entrepreneurs:Remember the Number to watch is 1440

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One of the innate personality traits of entrepreneurs is the inner drive to achieve, see progress, and bring all the “ideas in their mind” to life.  Often this comes with financial reward.  I don’t know too many entrepreneurs that are flat broke.  I find many are confident in their ability  to strategically invest their financial resources.  However, I don’t find the same confidence when it comes to investing a resource that is more valuable than money – our time!  Every day  each of us receives the same amount of time  to use in a given day –  1440 minutes.  We can use it to invest in our dreams, futures, our businesses, our families, our friends, and ourselves.  While many hit a big “payday” that gives them financial breathing space, there is no way to ever add even one extra minute to that number.  1440 is the number to watch!  It never changes.  It is that finite number we get to invest each day.

Entrepreneurs are forward thinkers, proactive,  and almost never still.  They often have lists either in their mind or on paper of task after task that needs to be done.  Each task is almost always a top priority.  I often hear my friends say,  “if only I had a few more hours in a day” or “just give me one more minute.”  Even more frustrating is the truth that  we  never have enough time in our lives to get every idea in our heads brought to life.   Entrepreneurs are convinced that they don’t want to die until every last idea, every last history altering brainstorm has been realized.  Our very nature wants to see all of our potential fully realized.

But then it happens – the minutes in our lives run out.  The seemingly endless supply of blocks of 1440 minutes run out.  We can’t squeeze in one more meeting, have one more incredibly creative idea, organize one more activity, or have one more minute with those we love.  More startling is  a truth that I believe with all my heart.  When we have spent all of those minutes,  those who remain won’t measure our lives by what we built, but by WHO WE BUILT!   Let that sink in for just a second.

Last week one of our dear friends lost her battle with cancer.  She was a Pastor’s wife, mother, grandmother, and also an entrepreneur.  After raising her family, helping her husband build churches, and launching several ministries, at the age of 60 she turned her attention towards her dream of building a successful interior design and staging business.  She had more energy and drive than 90% of the people I know.  In her personal life and her business life she was incredibly successful.  That’s not to say there were not struggles.  But she always overcame and always kept moving forward.

Because of our involvement in her celebration of life service,  Susie and I talked with a large number  of the friends and family who attended the service.  We were immediately struck by the realization that not one person mentioned her personal accomplishments.   Instead they wanted to talk about how she poured into their lives.  No matter what dreams of her own she was fulfilling, she always managed to simultaneously pour into the lives of  people around her.  She  gave them time, encouraged their dreams, poured belief into them.  As her three  children and 11 grandchildren talked about her, all they could mention was how much she had poured into their lives.  Susie and I know that much of what we learned about raising a  family that is centered on faith and family came because of her influence and the deposits she made in our lives.

Interestingly, not one person talked about missing her accomplishments.  What  would be missed was her influence, the force of her presence in their lives.

I was reminded of the difficulty every entrepreneur has in figuring out how to make sure they invest the minutes of their days strategically and wisely.  1440 – that’s all we get each day!  Dollars needed for the next project, the next acquisition, the next big thing can usually be found somewhere.  But moments and days – they are truly finite!

As I stood listening at the funeral,  in all honesty,  I found myself wishing that when my life were done I would leave the same vacuum that Kathy has left.

But daily I struggle with getting slowed down by people.  In my hurry I leave conversations unfinished, I don’t write the note, don’t make that call, tell someone to hurry up…..don’t take the time ……

Here are a few realizations I came to as I processed the events of that day:

*Investing our  1440 in people  will always produce a great ROI! (Return on Investment)

*Always look for a way to make our time do double duty – invest it in our ideas but bring people along  for the ride.  Learn to use phrases like  “Walk with me…..Do you want to ride along……Can you help me……

*Each day set my priorities before I arrange my schedule.

*When forced to decided whom to spend time with, opt for the one that lives under the same roof you do.

*When torn between a decision of where to spend time opt for the opportunity that won’t come again.

*AND HERE IS THE BIGGEST – PUT THE PHONE DOWN.  That screaming vibration alerting us to an important message, email, call or Facebook post.  Learn to delegate part but not all of your 1440 to it.  Decide when and how you will respond.  Control it – not the other way around!  I know that there are time sensitive issues and sometimes we have to be at the mercy of our phones – but not 24/7.  As I sit in restaurants I am saddened as I watch families ignore each other.  Why do we ignore the valuable moments in our own lives and scroll down and  watch someone else’s.

*Put each moment to the Best Use Possible (BUP)

*Don’t lose focus of what is really important.  The bottom line isn’t always a financial number.

*I have never seen a hearse followed by a U-Haul – only by varying numbers of people.

As I talked with Kathy’s husband that day I told him that one thing that I realized was that Kathy had invested her life well.  She had strategically invested in the lives of others.   Even as she pursued her goals she found a way to do it in a way that the results always built into the lives of others.  Now, that’s how I want to spend my 1440.

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