precious timeAs a small business owner, especially a new business owner, you may feel like you don’t have a lot of money – but you have plenty of time.

This is a big mistake! Your time is also a precious resource that needs to be allocated appropriately and, more importantly, consciously.

What you may not be taking into account is that time you spend on one thing ensures that you are not able to spend time on something else. This is called “opportunity cost.”

As a solo or very small business owner, what this means is that one project will move forward and another one will stall. You may not have any other resources to dedicate to it.

It’s important to step back occasionally and make sure that you’re spending your time on the high-impact activities, and not a shiny object diversion.

Entrepreneurs are particularly prone to shiny object syndrome. We’re a curious and optimistic bunch by nature. Most of us love to learn new things, especially software or strategies that might help our business grow.

Unfortunately, we also can go down the rabbit hole researching or learning something that is actually off topic or not aligned with our current business goals. In this case, we wouldn’t necessarily be wasting our time – but we certainly wouldn’t be maximizing it either.

Here are some potential time-sucks that entrepreneurs and small business owners need to watch out for.

New social media platforms

It seems like every time you boot up your computer there is a new social media platform that you *have* to be on. It can be a wise decision to wait and watch for a while to see if the platform gains traction (or goes under).

It’s also a good idea to evaluate whether that platform will appeal to your target market. If it won’t, move on. There is no payoff for establishing a presence where your ideal customers aren’t.

New software

New photo editing software? Video animation program? Playing with these can be super fun, but do you actually need it for your business?

Always evaluate if it’s a need to have or a nice to have.

And, ask yourself if it is a priority. Is this the best use of your time right now? Is there something else you could be doing that might be a fast path to the cash?

New blogs, books, videos, etc.

Being a lifelong learner is an admirable trait, and one that will, in general, serve you well.

You do need to keep your skills sharp. And you absolutely can learn a lot from analyzing what other people did, and modeling them in order to achieve success faster.

You also can end up getting overwhelmed, or sending yourself into analysis paralysis. Definitely watch out for this.

New training or certifications

Coaches seem particularly prone to this one. Training and certifications are great if you need the knowledge or validation in the marketplace.

However, I have seen many professionals use these as blocks because they’re afraid of getting out there and talking to real prospects.

Your time might be much better spent talking with potential clients and learning firsthand what their issues and pain points are. Maybe you can help them with the experience and knowledge you already have?

New products or services

Many entrepreneurs are visionaries and love to develop new offerings. What they may enjoy less is implementing something (executing on a plan), or managing the day-to-day administrative tasks of running a business.

What is the best way to avoid tedious activities? Develop something new that could be AMAZING.

Please try to recognize when you’re using this as an avoidance technique.

As you can see, there are many interesting – and seemingly benign – ways to spend your time. But, time (like money) should be spent on the activities that have the highest probability of a significant return on your investment.