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Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, including home-service companies such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Let’s play a game of “Would you rather…”

Would you rather have $1-million in the bank or a lifetime worth of experiences?

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Here’s an easier one: Would you rather clean the gutters or go to the beach with your friends? Me, too.

We live in a DIY world where people choose to do everything themselves to save money, but this only takes them away from doing things that truly matter. In a single day, you might play the role of teacher, chef, plumber and mechanic – but when do you get to be you? Doing it all yourself seems like a cost-effective strategy in theory, but it could be costing you something money can’t buy: happiness.

I’ve always been the kind of guy who would rather make meaning than money. Of course it’s important to have a healthy bank account, but achieving personal goals and making memories is what’s really valuable in life. We even created a 101 Life Goals program at our company – so our employees can pursue meaningful experiences in their personal and professional lives.

It’s encouraging to see that we’re entering an era that consumer experts call “DIFM”: do it for me. People would rather spend money on premium services to regain their time for the things they love. In a post-consumer world, time is a hotter commodity than money.

The psychological value of time

Ten years ago, paying someone to help you move or paint your living room was an unnecessary luxury. The recession hit hard and, for many people, spending money on services simply wasn’t an option.

We experienced this harsh reality firsthand. Within a year of the crash, our revenue was down by more than a quarter and we were forced to close 100 franchises. Our customers didn’t have the financial freedom to hire a premium service like ours. Instead, they either made do with what they had or disposed of their junk themselves.

But as the economy (and bank accounts) stabilized, purse strings got a little looser again. People are willing to spend their money on time-saving services so they can get back to living their lives. This isn’t just good for the economy, it’s also good for your health: People who prioritize their time over making money report greater life satisfaction. What’s more, those who spend money on time-saving services are happier than those who buy material things.

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Business in the DIFM world

People who value time over money are really after one thing: freedom. They want to hire somebody to wash their car, paint their house, deliver their groceries, cook dinner, you name it, so they have the time to do what they want. This is the on-demand economy hopped up on Redbull. People are no longer just buying a service – they’re buying back their lives. You can always make more money or buy a new car, but you can’t get your time back once it’s gone.

That’s why service businesses are the new tech startups, and demand is increasing for providers. People are choosing to make the most of their time by paying someone else to do everything. We’ve been building service-based brands for nearly three decades. Over the years, we’ve identified a core group of customers who understand the value of premium service.

Now, entrepreneurs are creating service solutions before customers even know they need them. Current examples include Netflix for movie night, DoorDash for dinner and various online marketplaces. So here’s my challenge to wantrepreneurs itching to get in the game: Develop business ideas that give people their lives back and carve out a place for yourself in the burgeoning DIFM economy.

Executives and human-resources experts share their views and advice about leadership and management in the ongoing Leadership Lab series.

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