Time Does NOT Equal Money

Last Update: October 01, 2019

"Every person is the architect of his or her own fortune." — Chinese proverb

A common misconception regarding business is the idea that time equals money. Since most of us come from a background as an employee, it’s easy to see where such an idea comes from.

As an employee, you are paid generally by the hour (or a salary, but the concept is the same.) You work a certain number of hours and you get a certain level of pay. If you work more than the agreed upon hours — typically 40 hours in a week — then you get paid more. And if you work less, you get paid less. Thus, there is a direct connection between your time and effort and the amount of money you receive.

But this is not how business works. As an entrepreneur, you are not paid according to time or even based on effort. You are paid for one thing and one thing only… value. As a business owner, the amount of money you make is in direct proportion to the amount of value you create in your customer’s life no matter how much time and effort it took.

The Plumber

You may have heard the old story about the plumber coming to fix a leaky faucet, turning one nut, and charging the customer $100. When the customer asked for an itemized receipt, the plumber wrote:

Turning a loose nut = $1

Knowing which loose nut to turn = $99

You see? It wasn’t what he did; it was all about the result.

The Two-Minute Toothache

You may or may not have heard of Sam Ovens. However, in my world of business consulting, he is legendary. Sam addresses this myth of time-equals-money with what is perhaps my favorite analogy. He shared…

My tooth hurt. It hurt really bad. So I went to the dentist. He did a quick assessment of my mouth and said, “It doesn’t look good, and it’s going to cost you $1000 to fix the pain. But the good news is it’ll only take me about two minutes and you’ll feel amazing again.”

I replied, “It’s only going to take you two minutes and you’re charging me $1000? Are you crazy?”

The dentist calmly thought about it for a few seconds and then said, “Well, I could take five hours if that will make you feel more comfortable about the arrangement… but in the end it’s just going to get you the same result.”

Again, notice it wasn't about what the dentist actually did.

Wealthy Affiliate

One of the hardest things to do when you first start learning the WA model, building a site, and creating content is letting go of this idea that your income is somehow related to the time and effort you put into your business.

In fact, I once mentioned that one of my marketing headlines targeting writers discussed how they could earn a six-figure income working less than an hour per day through their writing. I was called out for making such a bold statement and told that no one could do that.

What this person failed to grasp was that, as a writer, I often work less than an hour per day. I have reached a level where I can knock out a 1500 word article in around 45 minutes. (Indeed, I have been known to knock out as many as 5000 words in a single hour, but that’s another story.)

Moreover, I had literally done $11,000 in sales just the weekend before, which puts me on course to make well over six figures this year. Not to mention that we have members right here in Wealthy Affiliate who have made $100,000 in a single week. (Hi, Jerry.)

I don’t say any of this to impress you because, honestly, you probably couldn’t care less. Rather I put it out there to demonstrate that there is no connection between my time and my income. The only thing that matters is the result.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I am telling the truth and I can write a 1500 word article in less than an hour. And that article does gangbusters and earns me $1000 this month. Nice, right? Not bad for 45 minutes worth of work.

Now, let’s say I lied and that I can’t really write that fast. And, for the sake of argument, let’s say that it takes me 10 hours to write that same article. And at the end of the month it still earns me $1000.

What’s the difference?

That’s a trick question, of course. There really is no difference other than how long I took to write it. In other words, I wasn’t paid for my time; I was only paid for the result.

This is an extremely simple concept, but it can be difficult to wrap your head around if you’ve never looked at work and money this way before. Yet, I cannot think of any single concept that is more important for you to understand and embrace wholeheartedly.

Once you learn to separate time from money, your entire life will change. You will earn much more and work far less. And who wouldn’t love that, right?

Please share your thoughts and comments, and let me know if you have a great “time doesn’t equal money” story yourself.

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tanzanite Premium
Writing is the easy part as I am also a writer. Sure, I can write a 1500 word post in an hour, but it takes over an hour or more extra to download images, edit, put in the video link, put in affiliate links, write a meta description, P3 headings, keywords, categorize, etc. Then do the social stuff. Put it on my facebook business page, Pinterest, and Twitter. Then I also update my sitemap and go to
Google Search Console and enter the new post.

If you can do all that in an hour as well as write a 1500 word post, I am totally impressed and in awe and you deserve to earn what you do.

That being said, I haven't made a cent for my efforts so I guess I'm doing something wrong.
AJTrimble1 Premium
You shouldn't assume you're doing anything wrong. Did you know Google's own data shows it takes an average of 35 weeks for an article to rank and reach peak traffic? That's 9 months. Kind of reminds you of something else that takes 9 months to grow, doesn't it? :-)

Listen, I've been a writer all of my life and been online off and on since the late 90s. And one thing I've learned is it just takes time; there's really no magic to it.

Keep these two "rules" in mind and you'll be fine:

1) Never, ever, EVER, give up. If something isn't working, try something else, but never stop.

2) Never compare your "start" to someone else's "middle". I know a lot of the so-called gurus out there pitch the idea that if you just do what they do (which, of course, they'll share with you for thousands of dollars) then you will be driving Bentleys and living on yachts in no time. It's utter nonsense... they didn't get that way overnight, and neither will you.

That's why Kyle and Carson are so good... they lay it all out there honestly and let you decide.

Hang in there :-)
LindaBaxter Premium
You make some good points. Your story examples are spot on. Thanks for sharing.

AJTrimble1 Premium
Thank you.
Aussiemuso Premium
Wow that was a great idea to share today. I know I'm still in the time for money headspace and you post made me face that fact.

Thanks. Now I can start working on results for time.

Lily 😊
AJTrimble1 Premium
Awesome. It really is quite liberating once you make the mental switch. Thanks for sharing :-)
cliffordjack Premium
A.J. thanks for that great analogy, I will keep that in my bag of learning and steam ahead.
AJTrimble1 Premium
Awesome. Thanks for sharing.
Joes946 Premium
AJ, great analogy and so true. Time does not necessarily equate with money.
AJTrimble1 Premium