What’s the difference between a consumer and a producer? Some people have never given it much thought, or even know what it means and why it matters. How would one or the other make any difference in how we live our lives, or how it affects the world we live in?
It’s more important than you may think. Depending on whether you’re in a consumer or producer mindset; your life could look very different.
Which mindset are you? Well, to understand how we think, and how it could affect the way we do things, we first need to know what characteristics and qualities define each one.
If you don’t feel like reading the article here’s the video version:
What is a Consumer?
A consumer generally sees an endless stream of content to consume or items to buy. They tend to spend their time and money on distractions of some form, like entertainment, to escape from daily life. They may also adhere too rigidly to current trends and fads.
So, just what exactly does that mean?
Distractions can include things like vacations, gadgets and technology, shopping for things you don’t really need, having a big TV package, gambling or in extreme cases, partaking in drugs and alcohol.
While some things can be destructive and dangerous, many distractions are just things that use money as a resource to entertain yourself. Fads that promise a quick fix, like get-rich-quick schemes and fad diets, or the latest trends that “everybody just has to have”, can use up your money and leave you feeling unfulfilled and disappointed. Not to mention acquiring debt, with few long term benefits.
Consumers generally use the money they get from working at a job. They use what they earn, and they work to get more. And the cycle repeats. If they’re lucky, they work at a job they enjoy. But many don’t. Often, the work is just a means of getting more money for more entertainment or paying bills.
Consumers put a different emphasis on value than producers. A lot of the things that consumers pay money for are things to feel good at the moment. They aren’t usually looking ahead at how this could play out in the long run. And aren’t necessarily concerned about how it all fits into a bigger plan. It’s a “live in the moment” kind of lifestyle.
What is a Producer?
Producers tend to think of money as a resource to help them accomplish their goals. They look at spending as an investment, either financially, personally, or as an investment in someone else. Have you ever heard the phrase, “It takes money to make money”? A producer uses this concept to increase their income. Things like real estate is one example of investing in something that can have a return pay-out in the long run. Producers are patient. They know that it can take time to build revenue, so they don’t have much interest in get-rich-quick offers.
Another investment producers make is in themselves. They spend money on things that will help them grow personally or professionally. They may read books, take classes and learn new skills. Producers know that learning and growing can make themselves more valuable in the future.
They know that their health is another way to invest in themselves. If you take care of yourself, you may find you have more energy and interest in opportunities that come your way. You might not have to spend extra money on health treatments if you can avoid the problems that a lack of self care can create in the first place. Buying healthy foods and purchasing a gym membership would seem like great investments to a producer. A good pair of gym shoes or equipment like a nice set of golf clubs would also make sense to someone who prioritizes their health.
One more thing that producers do is invest in other people. This is not always for financial gain. Sometimes they may join a group that allows them to have networking opportunities. Or pay for a service to someone who has a particular skill or craft. The return in this case, is that they receive quality work and save the time it would have taken them to do it themselves. Sometimes they give to other people because they believe that what that person is doing has a worthy cause. They are giving, with the idea that their contribution helps out for the greater good of all.
Consumer vs. Producer
One main difference between consumers and producers is what they spend their money on. What is important to one person may be different for another. To be honest, we are all on a spectrum of being a consumer or a producer. Some are all in, on one side or the other, while others may have some attributes of both.
I’m not saying producers don’t buy frivolously at times. Yes, they may take fancy vacations or have expensive cars, or make poor decisions about their health and lifestyle. Consumers may have jobs they love and not mind living paycheck to paycheck, or even own their own homes.
It’s not about being rigid about what to do with every penny you make or never missing a daily workout at the gym. There’s no perfect way to be. But it’s about thinking of what you want out of life, and assessing whether or not you’re on the path to achieve it. Consumer or producer? Which mindset are you? Is that working for you?
So, why change to a producer mindset? What benefits might you find by changing the way you think about money, value and your time?
Well, let’s talk first about money. If you were using an investment mindset, you would be finding ways to increase the amount of money coming to you. Think of a boomerang that returns to you with dividends, rather than a one way flight, where you can just wave good-bye to your hard earned cash as it flies into the sunset. To be honest, most people believe they could use a little more cash at the end of each month. So, what if you could find a way to use your money to generate more money in return?
Next, what do you value? If your health is important to you, would you change some of your eating or exercise habits? If having a few important meaningful items instead of a lot of meaningless clutter is something you would care about, would you change your spending habits?
“Buy less, choose well,” is a sentiment expressed by Fashion Designer, Vivienne Westwood.
By focusing your attention on what you spend money on, you might find that your possessions and activities have more meaning. The benefits of less clutter include better clarity, composure and less time tending to your stuff. As author Timber Hawkeye says about his minimalist lifestyle,
“If I don’t own it, I don’t have to dust it!”
Which leads us to the subject of time. Time is probably the number one commodity on this planet. We all have a limited number of hours to use throughout our lives. So how do you want to spend them? What would you do, if you had more time?
Being a producer can take many forms, and create self fulfillment as well as prosperity. Learning new things, and being the person you aspire to be are all good reasons for change.
How do I do it?
So how do you make a change from a consumer to a producer mindset? Well, if you’re asking yourself that question, you are already starting to change.
Setting new goals and sticking with them is the next step. Look at how you see yourself as a producer. Invest in yourself. Learn a new skill. Take a new class. Plan a workout schedule. Eat healthy foods. Be creative and productive. Even making your bed in the morning or creating art can make you feel like you’ve done something. Talk to new people. Listen to new ideas. Contribute to your community.
Change takes time. Remember, producers are patient. But they set a goal and then work toward it every day. Adopt a new attitude about how you spend your time and money.
Remember, being a producer isn’t about being a millionaire, although that can sometimes be a byproduct. It’s about recognizing real value, living a life of curiosity and having an interest in all that it has to offer. It’s about being part of the game, not just a spectator.
American Author and Educator, Anna Lappe said,
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Wouldn’t you rather create the world you want than to distract yourself from getting there?