Time creation, the billion dollar opportunity

Business and entrepreneurial literature describe the big new business opportunities: cleantech, the bottom of the pyramid, health 2.0 and so on it goes.

I believe these are all big, valid market opportunities.

Another one is – or should be – time creation.

Study after study shows that people say they are too busy, that they don’t have enough time. (I was reminded of this today at the Arts Marketing Association’s annual conference in Glasgow where I was part of the opening keynote and where my fellow speaker Jerry Yoshitomi shared a study from New Zealand that showed that by far and away the biggest cited reason for people to not attend arts events was lack of time/too busy.)

These people I refer to are already afforded an abundant life full of necessities and luxuries. They are mostly in the developed world, mostly in the West.

What these people are generally (but not always) driving for are chunked experiences, shorter emails, on-demand stuff that can fit in.

As information overload grows to crisis levels, as our internet addiction spirals and our positive and counterbalancing moves towards greater work life balance and more integrated lives add to the pile of tasks to do, so our time fritters away.

There are products and services that create or reclaim time for us.
The concierge and virtual PA. Google’s Priority Inbox. The Getting Things Done religion. And much more I’m sure.

There are products and services that have sympathy for the time constraints we now willingly live with.
On-demand and catch up TV. Reminder text messages from dentists. Other things you can probably think of.

This is a huge business opportunity. If I were starting a business today I would be asking ‘how does this reclaim time for our customers?’ and ‘how does this play nice and fit into the madly busy lives of our customers?’.

If you believe we could be doing good, useful things with the reclaimed or unlocked time, then this is also an important contribution to society.

Time creation: it’s where the smart money should go.

3 comments

  1. James Burt

    Hi Will –

    I’m not sure about the idea of time-creation. Throughout history people have complained about being too busy and not having enough time. In addition, no “time creation” business is going to help people spend their time in a more satisfying way.

    If people are not spending time in art galleries or doing “useful things” then surely that’s a reflection of their priorities. Creating more time won’t release them to do that, they will most likely carry on doing the same things.

    What we do with our time, rather than what we say we’d do given more time, is what defines who we are.

    James

  2. will mcinnes

    Hi James, thanks for chipping in.

    I’m really interested to know more about people through history complaining about being too busy – do particular examples jump to mind? I just have a bit of a historical blind spot and it’d be fascinating to find out more 🙂

    I guess maybe the underlying point I’m trying to make is that I don’t feel people’s behaviour matches their priorities.

    I think there’s a yawning chasm between what we mostly want to do and what we mostly actually do. So maybe it’s behaviour change as much as time creation than I’m thinking of? Or behaviour change around time and busyness and stuff – enabled by techniques or tools. Something like that.

    I agree with your last point – that what we are is what we do rather than what we say. But I think there’s something separate and parallel about how and where we spend our time.

    Not sure if that makes any sense!

    W.

  3. James Burt

    Hello!

    I can’t find a decent link specifically on lack-of-time through history, but I did blog a while back about the idea that information is increasing:
    http://www.orbific.com/weblog/2010/12/is-the-amount-of-information-in-the-world-really-increasing.html

    As I say there, I think a lot of our assumptions about the world changing reflect the changes in our own lives and increasing responsibilities as we get older.

    As far as efficient use of time goes, the best book I’ve read on the subject was written in the second century:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditations

    I’ve recently begun re-reading it and it is amazing how relevant the book seems almost two millennia later.

    James

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