The Mill has played a part in many staple American industries including cotton, rail, textile, lumber, hosiery and wool fabric manufacturing. It suffered through the Great Depression and was closed for a decade beginning in the 1960s. Today the mill is right in the center of town and is home to locally owned and operated small, independent businesses. My little house was built a mile from the mill in 1960. Most of the houses around me were built between 1920 and 1960 to house employees of the mill. Now you'll see all sorts of Chapel Hill townies, Carolina students, professors, and other professionals who live in this surprisingly urban-spirited tiny town.
Like many towns throughout the US and particularly the South (hey, my home state of Georgia was founded by an opportunist looking to outsource labor from debtors), Carrboro was founded upon the industry ambitions of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial spirit is extremely hearty here and we have some of the strongest support for local business that you'll find anywhere. Though we don't have the booming startup capital you might find in RTP or in Durham, I'm dedicated to staying here and creating the same sort of opportunities and growth this town has seen in the past. You don't often hear small businesses lauded in the news, but the fact remains: 99.7% of the US population is employed by a small business and small businesses generate over 50% of nonfarm GDP.
Though I am not yet independently wealthy, I have realized that ultimately I find it fulfilling to help others. However, when I examine my actions I sometimes do the exact opposite. I'm way too price-sensitive, drive too much and too far and call Carolina drivers all sorts of bad things, and buy clothing from manufacturers that use harmful practices against their employees and their businesses. To some degree, it is impossible to audit 100% of your decisions and ensure you're causing no Badness anywhere. If you attempted this you wouldn't have time in your life to do anything, you'd just be investigating companies for ethical business practices.
At the community level there are plentiful examples of empowering infrastructure and community such as turning your local abandoned Wal-Mart into a library. If you're anything like me, you aren't that industrious and you spend a lot of time doing odd jobs around your house, mowing your yard, doing your laundry, walking around the grocery store while trying to remember what you've forgotten or even checking your email. The fact is that you're costing yourself, your community and our world good jobs and innovation that we could have had otherwise if you'd done a better job managing your time. I'm definitely guilty of it and I'm working to get better at it, too.
My time isn't all that valuable now, but in a perfect universe I'd be worth about $3.3M by the time I'm 35, which is just under seven years from now. I'd like to have amassed that amount so I'll have around $20M when I'm 60, assuming I invest fairly competently. Now, before we go any further, if you want to give me money I think I can probably figure out something to do with it. Just to make the calculation simple, let's say that I need to make about $500,000 a year to reach that income goal in time for my birthday. I tend to work more than the average person right now (around 95 hours/week or 5,000 hours/year) and ideally I'd like to work around 60 hours a week and have three weeks of vacation time per year. That means my "ideal" career is 49 weeks * 60 hours per week = 2,940 hours per work year). So, I need to make $170 an hour to hit this goal.
Would you mow your yard if you had to burn $350 ? Would you fold your laundry and flush $170 down the toilet? I spend around 225 hours per year checking my email (I probably don't even have any new mail most of the time) which means I'm throwing away $38,250 a year for no good reason. That's about $5,000 less than the yearly median family income in Carrboro.
It's fairly unlikely that I'll hit my $3.3M net worth goal by age 35. In fact, this is higher than the average lifetime income for a Carolina MBA. But I should also consider how much time I spend on non-essential tasks and prioritize my time so that I can focus on innovating and strengthening my community. If I can pay $100 a month to have someone periodically clean my house, that helps someone in my community keep their job and saves me significant opportunity cost, especially in the future if my present-day actions cause me to be very successful. Additionally, I get all sorts of fringe benefits from having a clean house such as overall lower stress levels and increased likelihood of showing fellow humans generosity. If I weren't paying for my new workstation/computer, my education, and my mortgage I'd hire someone right this stupid minute. However, as it is I don't have enough confidence in my future success(es) to divert cash from my known high-interest rate student loans and credit card bills in good conscience.
Don't get psyched out by your own machismo: it pays giant dividends if you invest your time just as wisely as you would your retirement fund. Make sure that you focus on the real value of spending time at your business and with your loved ones, too, and the amazing thing is that if you delegate some of the responsibilities you aren't great at anyway to someone else who is, you'll have more time to do the things you enjoy with the people and ideas you care about. And ultimately you might just strike it rich.