Another article popped up in my reading that has me thinking. Stephen Brill, the guy who created Court TV (you can debate whether that was a good thing or not) is back with a new company called Clear. It´s a service that is being tested in Orlando now. For $80 per month you can skip the normal airport security line in favor of a special shorter line for Clear members. The average wait time for passengers before getting cleared is 31 minutes, while Clear customers won´t have to wait more than 3 minutes. When you sign up, the company takes fingerprints and iris scans and uses those to speed up the process of making sure you aren´t a terrorist. If the test is successful in Orlando it will hit four other airports soon.
This intrigued me from two perspectives. First, the ability to trade money for time is an exciting opportunity that can, in the right circumstance, make a lot of sense. Second, it opens up the thought patterns about other opportunities for entrepreneurs to profit from offering that extra time.
Is skipping that line worth $80 per month? For me, since I don´t travel more than once or twice a month (and, sadly, often less), it really isn´t. If you were a frequent traveler who made 6 or 8 flights a month, though, you are suddenly saving yourself half a day every month. Most people, especially those who travel that much, would be dramatically ahead trading $80 for half a day in total time. That is, of course, as long as they use that time productively.
That has to be the question you ask every time you consider a service — what is the time it will save worth? It´s easy to justify anything you want to avoid by saying your time is too valuable to do it. You need to be diligent about it, though, if you want to avoid paying for every service out there. How much time do you spend on the task at hand? Would someone else you pay to do the same task do it as effectively as you do? How much time will you realistically and consistently save by having someone else do it? What is your time really worth (much more on that topic in a later post)? Is having someone else do it the best solution, or could you find a way to do it yourself more efficiently than you are currently doing it? In my mind, those are the questions I would want to answer before I decide to spend money on a service.
How about opportunities? I am admittedly a bit of an entrepreneurial geek. I can occupy myself for hours at a time imagining new possible businesses. I think it´s a valuable exercise. Every time I come across a task that makes me cringe, I spend some time imagining a business that could be built around that task. Most often it just makes me notice the task a little less. Who knows, though, maybe one day one of my ideas will be that gold mine we are all looking for.