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Hidden “Currencies”

— from Tim Clark at Business Model You—

Time and energy are the main currencies you “spend” to create and deliver value to Customers. You may also receive benefits in these currencies: If your work energizes you, or leaves you plenty of free time for yourself, you’ve been paid in an extra-monetary form.

But there’s a third, hidden currency you should account for in your personal business model. As with the other currencies, it can be either a cost (What You Give) or a benefit (What You Get).

This hidden currency, though—unlike time—is hard to quantify. And unlike energy, sensing its day-to-day ebb and flow is tough.

Yet this precious third currency is very real. People who give too much of it to their work (or fail to receive enough in return) often quit their jobs in frustration—or start their own businesses

What is it?


Flexibility is what you “pay” when you take a corporate job, for example. When you take a new position, you’re typically committing to a 50-week year where you’re required to be at a specific location the better part of each day. Most commonly, you immediately lose the flexibility to choose when and where you’ll work. You may even lose the flexibility to determine what you’ll work on and how.

One way to avoid spending all your flexibility currency is to become self-employed. Business Model You featured Jet Barendregt (page 73), who started her own personal assistant business after her employer decided to move to a new location that would have doubled her commute—and further reduced already sub-par flexibility. The move gave Jet extraordinary flexibility (and tripled her earnings).

All this is not to say that self-employment or entrepreneurship is the only way to gain more flexibility. Savvy employers recognize that greater flexibility is a potent benefit within the “What You Get” building block.

So if you feel you’re either overpaying or are underpaid in flexibility, try negotiating. But whatever you do, start accounting for this crucial third currency within your personal business model.

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