Invest Time, Invest Money, or Delegate?

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You want to accomplish something.  Whatever it is, you’re going to have to make an investment.  You’ll either be investing a lot of time, a lot of money, or a little of both.  In this article, I’ll illustrate this concept by discussing modern options for having graphic design work completed for business use.

Let’s pretend that what you want to accomplish is to have graphic design work completed for your business.  You need a logo, some brochures, business cards, social media post images, social media headers, and numerous other pieces of creative that relate to your field of business.  How do you go about accomplishing this task?  Well, how do you go about investing any task?  You invest time, money, or both.  This topic brings up a really interesting point about how money not only represents current and future resource allocation, but also time.  Sadly, to stay on topic, that interesting point will have to wait until a later date to be discussed.

Investing Time

Your first option to achieve your businesses graphic design goals is to spend a lot of time learning the tools of the trade for graphic design.  Learn about color, shape, visual effects, and maybe even photography.  Now, we’re not trying to make a full career out of this task, so we’ll say that it should suffice to learn the industry-leading software for working with such concepts.  In this scenario, we’ll likely select Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, both from the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools.

How long does it take to learn Photoshop or Illustrator?  Well, you can take a brief class at a university or online and be fairly proficient in basic image creation or photo manipulation within a matter of days or weeks.  But will you have the eye for design?  Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”, we’re right back to the need to study shape, color, and so on.

Often, we feel the need as human beings to invest a lot of time into the mastery of things we’ll never master.  My corporate trainings prove this to me time after time.  I frequently get students in my Excel trainings who don’t use Excel professionally, have nobody (and no thing) pushing them towards learning or using it, but they’ve been exposed to it and simply feel that they should know the tool.  I don’t disagree, and I’m glad they’ve decided to take my course, but I am always a little shocked at the number of these people who also seem to have no intention on actually using Excel after the course unless some external force comes up with a reason.  If you know about a tool, feel you should learn it, but have no external reason, shouldn’t you create an internal reason?  One would think.  I imagine the problem is just as relevant, if not moreso, in the world of Photoshop.

Investing Money

What if you can’t, or don’t want to, invest the time to master the skill?  We used to say that this is where you invest money and have someone else do the work for you and your business.  This, however, isn’t technically true anymore as you’ll see in my next option of investing both time and money.  For now, I’ll maintain a hard line that investing money means still doing the work yourself (or within your existing team).

Consider Canva as an alternative to Photoshop.  You can technically use Canva for free, but we’ll also assume that you’re going to want to use the paid features in a business pursuit to have more design control over stock images, fonts, and whatnot.  So go to Canva, or a similar tool, and pay some money for credits or a monthly subscriptions, and you’re not getting to design, per se, but rather you’re getting pre-made design-as-a-service that you can manipulate to your own liking.  Some entity out in the world pieces together dozens, hundreds, or thousands of things that you’re likely to want and then provides them to you in a way that the design work is already done, but you can personalize and modify any element you want.

It should be acknowledged that investing money has a time committment, albeit the relationship is highly skewed.  The same is true for a time investement and its relationship to money.  Examples are; you have to take time to select and insert stock images that you buy (investing money); and, you have to pay to take classes to learn to use industry-leading tools (invest time).

Investing Both

When you take the traditional old-school approach to not investing time, you’re really simply reducing your time investment and increasing your money investment to where they’re nearly on part with one another.  This is accomplished by skewing how you spend your time rather than by directly reducing the amount of time (although that’s possible).  Instead of spending time creating the result that you’re looking for, you instead manage a person, company, or even an automated process with your time.  You subsequently pay that person or company and they use their invested time and monies to reach economies of scale for you to deliver the goods.  You invest your time and money in management and operations, and they produce the final product in a way that saves you either time or money, depending on which you’re optimizing for within your business.  Employees, contractors, outsourcing to other companies… all of these fit the bill.

Now it’s your turn!

So which works for you?  Think about a project you’re trying to complete right now and contemplate what deliverables are required to reach completion.  Do you believe it best to invest time, to invest money, or to invest both in a slightly different manner to allow external resources to get you to project completion?  All three options are valid, but they should be deployed in difference situations when the circumstances are right.  Being able to quickly select which method to utilize in order to complete projects and move work forward can be the difference between spinning your wheels to no avail and earning a return on a successfully completed task.

Let me know in the blog comments below or the YouTube Comments on the video above, and let’s start a conversation.


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