Don’t Waste Time Building Your Business

Identifying the difference between quality time and wasted time

Joe Procopio
5 min readJan 9


image by dilokastudio

One of the best ways to kill a startup slowly and painfully is to spend too much time on activities that produce a low return on the time invested in them. Yet we entrepreneurs do this constantly, and sometimes for good reason.

When does quality time become wasted time? Let’s untangle this startup Catch-22.

An entrepreneur friend of mine, Rachel Greenberg, talks quite a lot about low-ROI activities versus high-ROI activities. If my core philosophy on starting a business is simple — make and sell something for more than it costs to make and sell it — hers is the next logical simple step: Spend all your effort on tasks that have a high return on the spend.

I spend a lot of time on low-ROI activities, and while some of that is necessary, I also tend to waste too much time on these activities.

So how do you identify the line between quality time and wasted time?

What Are Low-ROI Activities?

By definition, a low-ROI activity is a task that provides a small return in terms of revenue or profit for the time, effort, and money spent on it. An easy way to think about return-on-investment is in terms of physical fitness.

  • 30 minutes of walking is a low-ROI activity.
  • 30 minutes of running is a high-ROI activity.
  • 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training is a very high-ROI activity.

Business is different, obviously. But why is it so much harder to identify a low-ROI business activity?

The answer is twofold:

  1. Because every business is different, so the return on a certain activity can vary wildly from one business to another. There’s no universal “don’t do this” list to subscribe to.
  2. Because in business, you have an almost limitless number of activities that require a very low investment. They’re easy and cheap to do, so why not do them?

Sending a sales email is a low investment activity that inherently comes with a low return. Crafting a killer sales email campaign and developing a prospect…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at