Everything Worth Doing Takes Time – The Impact Equation

“I need to get the word out. I don’t have time to build a big platform.” I’ve heard this before. Many times.Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Start Somewhere

People complain all the time that nurturing the digital channel takes time. “I just got on Twitter. I don’t have time to get a hundred thousand followers!” Of course you don’t. You have all the time in the world to figure out ways to automate or falsely inflate or do a hundred other efforts that won’t help. And you’ve neglected to just start.

Do you know who also says it will take to long? Kids. On everything they don’t want to do. Homework, room cleaning, etc.

Start your digital presence accounts and get in the habit of spending even 20 minutes a day on them. 20 minutes.

Spend 10 of it talking and 10 of it listening. Or if you want to really do some amazing work, spend 5 minutes talking and 15 listening.

When I say “listen,” maybe you’re not following your prospects and potential community of value. Go to Twitter.com/search and spend time there, searching for people who might benefit you. On Google+, go to Find People On Plus, who match your demographic needs in some way.

No One Starts As a Celebrity

Imagine being a young woman working on your high school radio station. From there, you get the improbable job of working at the local TV news show. You work for years and then are given the lowest-rated spots on the air and told to make something of them. Eventually, it starts to pick up. But this is years later, almost a decade. And then, ten years later, you’re given your own TV show.

Now, at a net worth of over $2.7 billion, Oprah Winfrey is the richest self-made woman in the history of America. A decade.

But I Don’t Have Time

I hear this often, too. No one has time, if they’re fortunate enough to have work worth doing. But when you say you don’t have time to build a platform of value, you’re saying, “I am working on my health but I have to swing by the Drive Thru window for lunch.”

“Time” comes from preparation. I told you 20 minutes before. Would it surprise you that it really doesn’t take much more than 20 minutes a day for most of what needs doing even now, after years and years of building a platform?

What does take time in building up a network of any kind of value is creating interesting content that is of actual use to your community. That takes time. I can’t see a way around that. But the acts required to show people that you care? To connect and make people feel seen doesn’t take very long at all and pays off greatly. Because it’s people that will fuel your growth.

But I Have to Eat Today!

Here’s a truth: farmers don’t starve while they plan their crops. They eat the yield of the previous harvest. And if they can’t make a meal of what they’ve grown before, they forage. This is the basics of what platform building is about. You eat what you have while you plant and nurture what is to come. There’s no other way to do this. Buying your way into the future is purchasing an expensive lie that won’t pay you back.

The Time Problem is a Bravery Problem

The trick is this: we always have time for that which brings us great success. We find it. When something gives us feedback and that feedback feels rewarding, we’ll do more of it. But what happens is that when you’re starting out, when your voice isn’t quite as heard (yet!), you fear it will never be heard. You can’t hear the roar of the crowd because you’re still working your way up to that stage.

Be brave. It takes work, yes, but the value is there. You’ll see.

Oh, and our book, The Impact Equation, is definitely helpful in this regard. : )

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  • http://twitter.com/KirkHazlett Kirk Hazlett, APR

    Spot on, Chris. Diving into the deep end only works if you’ve spent time learning how to tread water. I’m constantly cautioning students (and clients) to proceed with caution, care, and planning…don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan


  • http://blog.momekh.com/ Momekh

    You wrote that in 20 minutes, didnt you? :) Because it just flowed!
    I have been working on building my platform for the past 1.5 years now. With 2000 subscribers and one product out the window that actually helps my community, I couldn’t be happier. I started with 0. I still have the Aweber screenshot of just 1 subscriber; me. But even today, the ‘platform’ is nowhere near where I want it to be, where I believe it can be.

    Thanks to community builders like you who share and inspire, Chris, I have come this far. It takes time. Check. It is worth it. Check.

    • http://blog.momekh.com/ Momekh

      Oh and guess what finally arrived in the mail today … yummmmyy! You and @julien have me by the collar, friend, by the collar!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Yep. 20 minutes or maybe even less.

      It took me 8 years to get 100 subscribers, so you’re faster. And yay!!!!

      • http://blog.momekh.com/ Momekh

        Yay indeed :)

      • http://twitter.com/BetaMotivation Kola Olaosebikan

        i don’t know what to tell you, but this comment has my jaw on the floor. your transparency is very very inspiring. i’m glad i found your blog

      • http://www.dmleblanc.com/ Dustin LeBlanc

        I think we sometimes forget that if we had 100 subscribers a day starting out, it would actually destroy our chances to learn a lot of important lessons. I bet those 8 years were filled with a lot of learning.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    I’ve been thinking about this Chris – I don’t think it’s the time so much as whether or not it will pay off. Many I think give up before they’ve invested enough time to prime the pump. Cheers, Happy Friday.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      True that. : )

  • http://www.petergmcdermott.com/ Peter G McDermott


    I’m just starting to work with a real estate agent here in Nashville and her message to me started out with, “I really need to get an audience and start generating leads with my Facebook page.”

    What is funny, is that my reply totally echoed your message. I asked her to keep building a catalog of consistent content, but to spend the majority of her time elsewhere on the web leaving comments, engaging with people in interior design, domestic engineering blogs and the like.

    I’m glad to see through your post that I was on point with my message to her. Keep up the great work, Chris. I’m always excited to read your material!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That’s because you’re smart, Peter. : ) You advised her well.

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieYonus Stephanie Yonus

    You must have read my mind.. just had a conversation this morning with a client who wants 500 followers by the end of the year. PS: it’s their first year on Twitter! Definitely forwarding this…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Followers come when you do good work. : )

    • http://www.readysetstartup.com/ Susan Jones @ ReadySetStartup

      Stephanie, I have built my Twittter following organically from 300 followers to over 10,000 this year (in 10 months) so it is possible. However, I have consistently spent time on it as Chris suggests – engaging with people and trying to provide content they will find valuable. I have been surprised at how easy it was just by doing a small amount of time a day.

      I have to agree with Chis though – writing quality content takes ages! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/KevinMuldoon Kevin Muldoon

    Great article Chris. I need to show this to all the automated Twitter people who are following me!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Indeed. : )

  • http://twitter.com/minimadesigns Michelle Martello

    Love this concept. And the notion that no matter how many followers you have, you should seek to serve & over deliver to your community. We get so caught up in the numbers game that we sometimes forget what we’re here to do in the first place!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Followers come when you do good work.

  • http://www.bernixiong.com/ Berni Xiong (sh-UNG)

    Another awesome post, as usual, of course. And I agree with you wholeheartedly. This learning objective is invaluable because there are a few things to glean from it.

    It is actually the cousin of one of my favorite Ray Goforth quotes: “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in the world: Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed.”

    (And in the case of this post, “those who think they only have to try once.”)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Very smart stuff. I like that. : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryann.didriksen Maryann Leininger Didriksen

    The time problem is a bravery problem. That hit me, great insight there.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Glad that resonated. : )

      • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.saavedra.31 Kimberly Saavedra

        Thank you, Chris! That was the one line that cut to the chase, but I loved your article. This is the first one I’ve read, thanks to Ryan Deiss sharing it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.saavedra.31 Kimberly Saavedra

      Me tooooooo, Maryann!

  • Brian Reid

    Just watched your video with Tony Robbins.
    Informative, inspiring, motivating and “Human”!

    Thank you

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      You did? Which one? Not the one where we wish “Ed” a nice day, right? The one I’m talking about is a for-pay product.

      • Brian Reid

        The New Money Master, It was part of the Business Mastery course in Las Vegas 2013

        Not sure when you filmed it.
        I especially like what’s next for you, resonated well with me.

        • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

          Gotcha. I filmed it at his house because he had me reschedule. And thanks. : )

  • http://twitter.com/boostsuite BoostSuite.com

    Awesome article! I get this sort of feedback all the time from our users and your content has provided me with some valuable insights on how to approach the situation. Love the Oprah reference too. :)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Thanks! I’m happy to hear it. : )

  • http://www.EmpowerNetwork.com/mikewilliamspro Mike Williams

    He does it again. The reason I follow and read your books is this. Great stuff.

    It really does take time.

    I have been working online since 08 as a hobby because I never sat down and thought about building it slowly each day for the long haul. Building online for 2 years can be more rewarding than working 25 years at some lame suit and tie gig.

    If we applied the same mindset we applied to our jobs (getting up on time, following a routine, getting the job done) we can be extremely successful online and most importantly help a lot of people on the way.

    Thanks Chris Brogan

    • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.saavedra.31 Kimberly Saavedra

      That says it all, Mike Williams!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Thank you, Mike. And you’re right, of course. : )

  • http://www.NateAnglin.com/ Nate Anglin

    Smack…someone just got hit across the face with this post, but I couldn’t agree more. I can admit, I see my # of followers (just signed up for Twitter) and think to myself blah. But, I smack myself and say nothing great happens overnight. It takes time.

    • http://twitter.com/MarioGo42549782 MarioGomez

      as Louis explained I’m amazed that a person able to make $5998 in one month on the cnetwork.

    • http://twitter.com/MarioGo42549782 MarioGomez

      …..goo.gl/Vq2nC (Click on Home)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That it does. : )

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    Liked your examples of the kids and the farmer. What I’ve discovered is that my problem isn’t time at all. When I get an idea with a purpose–the writing flows like magic.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I love magic, Mary. : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1189283549 Stephen Q Shannon

    Managing my energy allows time management to take care of itself. This presumes if I am, for the first time, reading between the lines. Lack of robust energy means there’s very little time for anything meaningful.

  • http://actionplanr.com/ Brenda Horton

    So true. It takes time to create, design, and build something of value. After two years of development, I finally got my productivity software tool (Actionplanr, a goal planning tool) off the ground and the feedback has been phenomenal. The hard work is finally starting to pay off!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Took me years and years. Even more than that. : )

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    So true. When I spoke with Scott Berkun the author of “Confessions of a Public Speaker he told me that big dreams aren’t available at bargain prices. Instant gratification only leads to future disappointment. A simple way to lose track of time and get caught up in the joy of experience is to stop keeping score for a while.

    Good stuff as always Chris.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I love Scott. Super smart guy. : )

  • http://my168project.com/ Matches Malone

    We could go into a discussion of instant celebrity status (read Kardashians), however, that may not be too constructive. And while your point is made about Oprah, at the end of the day, she’s still Oprah.

    There are many paths, and I will admit it took me almost 50 years to find mine. I’m thinking everything comes downto time management. For the most part, that’s out of my control these days. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      But they weren’t instant celebrities. They also took a lot of time. They took a lot of building and they didn’t make that money overnight. Nothing is that way.

  • http://raulcolon.net/ Raul Colon

    I love how this post ended. I see a direct correlation with exercise when it comes to maintaining. If you stop engaging people start losing interest and move on to other people who are talking to them and engaging. Same thing happens when you worked out and hard and ended up on a workout hiatus. The moment you stop going to the gym your progress starts going back.

    I think in all these things people think that by not building it they are in a comfortable spot and staying in the same place. Sadly when other people put in the 20 minutes it makes the other move stay behind and almost move backward.

    Start putting in the time now! IF not you will pay for it later.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      True that. You hand back your progress one day at a time.

  • http://www.findnewcustomers.com Jeff Ogden

    Great post, I’m reading The Impact Equation and Chris is an upcoming guest on Marketing Made Simple TV. Looking forward to it.

  • Martin Pigg

    I think one of the most important things I’ve discovered during the past two years as I wrote my first book was the amount of time it takes to find one’s true voice, and how liberating it can be once you own it.

    I have The Impact Equation downloaded in iBooks and I’m looking forward to reading it in the week to come. I appreciate your knowledge, wisdom and experience. Thank you.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I hope you enjoy it. : )

  • FitOldDog

    Great book, very helpful, review posted on Amazon if I remember correctly. Much appreciated, then read The Purple Cow followed by The Alchemist, both of which were mentioned in your book. Slowly learning, and yes, it takes time. Thanks for a great book. -kevin (aka FtiOldDog)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      All swell books, Kevin. Glad you’re here. : )

  • Guest

    Interesting that

  • TeachSocialBusiness

    It’s taken most of my life for me to really come to acknowledge and accept the power of patience and the return on diligent effort. It’s somewhat ironic but I find that patience + effort is rewarded much more often (and more quickly) than effort-squared.

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  • http://twitter.com/PhoebersOrbit Phoebe Ezell

    Great post… just start, say it, and say it well!

  • Daniel Decker

    So true. Most overnight successes are 5-10 years in the making.

  • http://twitter.com/JobLure John @ JobLure

    The job market is quickly becoming one in which employers search for ideal candidates, NOT one in which they spend much time reviewing resumes. If you’re not able to be found, you don’t exist.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      True that, John. : )

  • Geoffrey Gordon

    Superb Chris, it seems every post I read from you mirrors that you practice what you preach. I have not read all your books, but often refer them to my network simply because I know whatever you have to say is going to be good.

    I guess its time to move beyond excuses an start putting in the time. For me an old saying comes to mind, Are you serious or curious? :)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      You don’t have to read all my books. Just be me. And that’s a great question to ask, but maybe just Do. It works faster. : )

  • Randy Guzman

    Great one Chris. Cheere

  • http://twitter.com/jml_bryant Justin M L Bryant

    Thanks for sharing this Chris.

    The timing of your post is interesting, because recently I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the idea of “slow” brands. Brands that are willing to invest time, not just money. Brands that are wiling to invest patience, not just speed.

    You’ve got me thinking about this again…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That’s what matters. : )

  • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

    Very cool! Good way to do it.

    • Yamaya Cruz

      Is your book the impact equation on NOOK Barnes & Nobel?

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  • http://www.bellawebdesign.com/ Desiree Scales

    Shared this on Bella today. Great stuff. We see clients who have analysis paralysis all the time and tell them to just take one step a day. It makes a huge difference.

  • http://www.polarisprinc.com/blog Shelley Pringle

    Hi Chris, I don’t know what the abandon rate for blogs is, but I bet it’s high. Not every business can keep up the pace and realize the benefits that content marketing provides. We should be glad that content creation and social media marketing take time. For those of us who can stick to it, blogging week after week and putting the time into sharing content in eBooks or webinars, the rewards are there. I, for one, am thankful content marketing is hard.

  • Ion Doaga

    I like posts like this one. They keep you going. They are doing the job of a fitness trainer whose job is to encourange and put you to work.

    Great example with the farmers. That is the real life truth. It is not “I will do this and benefit of it at the end of the month”.

  • Brian Watkins

    Nice post, Chris. Consistency building has to be a conscious habit formed, like you said, often in small pieces per day every day.

  • Ddraig coch

    As a mother of 4, I hear that ” I can’t!!” far to often. I have no longer told myself “I can’t” for years.
    If you say something often enough, you believe it. I regularly say to my children “There is no such word as Can’t!”, so now it is drilled in to my skull also.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.vogt1 Kenneth Vogt

    I like the analogy of farming that you use. People seem to think they are hunting. If you need to hunt, then do. But it you need to hunt and you farm instead, you are going to be hungry. Better yet, do both. Hunt as much as you have to, and farm every other minute you’ve got. Next year, you may never need to hunt again.

  • wendy mccance

    I loved this article. Great points. I have found that if you write what you are passionate about, it is so much fun that you don’t think about the time put into it. It just doesn’t matter because you are having a good time.

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