Work Smarter Not Harder at Creating Business Value

By Rob Slee
Published: October 21, 2015 | Last updated: March 21, 2024


Excerpts from the book Time Really Is Money: How To Work For $5,000 Per Hour, Burn the Boats Press.

All my life I have been told to work smarter. And every time I was told this, the teller would laugh knowingly, and then walk away. These experiences reminded me of the one word, world-changing recommendation whispered to Dustin Hoffman in the movie The Graduate. Decades later I can still hear that magic word: Plastics. Similar to that movie, not once did my whisperers explain what it meant to work smarter.


This book tells “owners of their time” how to work smarter. Specifically, it shows such owners how to create value— personal or business— by spending hours on value-added activities. In the pages to follow, I’ll prove yet another old maxim: time really is money.


Owners of their time? What does that mean? It means anyone who is responsible for how they spend their time. About one quarter of the planet owns their time either because they are selling their time via freelancing or because they own their own business. There is no shortage of entrepreneurs on the planet. And the number is growing.


It amazes me that no one in the literature of business has ever adequately linked value creation with time spent. You would think that’s where business books would start. Time is our greatest asset. We have only so many hours to work in our lifetime, so why not spend those hours on value creating activities?

Time. Is there anything we take more for granted, yet is more precious? Time even means different things to different people. Einstein said time is that which is measured by a clock. Hawking said time, whatever that may be, will tell. For this book, time is the medium we use to create value. Money is a commodity, time is not. Time is our greatest asset.


Value is also a loaded word. Many confuse it with earnings. I am not so confused. Earnings are what you get paid for doing a task. Earning more enables you to live a better lifestyle. Creating personal value means adding to your net worth. Creating business value means adding to its market value (what the open market will pay for your business). Wealth is realized value, meaning a liquidity event takes place along the way.

If you’re still confused, this should help: personal earnings get you to retirement, wealth is what you have once you get there.

The confusion over personal earnings versus business value continues for most owners because they think the two are mutually exclusive. Not true, say I. Live this book’s philosophy and you’ll have all the earnings you need, plus substantially increased value.

I’ve spoken maybe 500 times to groups of businesspeople. It has continually shocked me to see that the vast majority of listeners earn so little, plus create little or no business value. A premise of this book is that until you work for at least $500 per hour, you have no chance to create value. And the fun really starts at $5,000 per hour. Yet, 80% of the people who own their time earn and create value of less than $ 100 per hour.

Once again, how can this be? Why do so many owners incur the high risk of ownership, without demanding an associated high return? Imagine if an owner purchased a public stock that legally promised to pay a 3% dividend, yet the corporation just never got around to sending it out. The owner would sue and lawyers would be happy. Yet most owners accept very little return for the risk they take every day in business.

Further, most people in each group to which I spoke appeared to be totally dead above the neck. They were clueless about many important things, especially concerning competing in a global economy, or anything related to value creation and its measurement.


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Written by Rob Slee

Rob Slee

I’ve owned dozens of private business interests and have written a handful of books and hundreds of articles on value creation. But it wasn’t until I started mentoring owners on entity value creation that I figured out what it really means to work smarter.

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