New revenue. That’s what we all want — revenue that comes from new sources or untapped channels.

With our traditional revenue lines under constant duress, we’re charged with finding this new revenue and we’re not usually given new resources to find it (at first).

So then the challenge becomes how much can we get back for what we put into a new project/programme to justify investment of time (taken from existing time, of course) and/or money (either taken from an existing resource pool or argued for additional investment)?

This is where, I think, we’re in relatively new territory as news media companies.

We’ve always counted on making profit from new special sections or vendor relations that provide new products or improve upon existing ones.

But never before have we been under such strain to make every dollar count to justify shifting resources or investing new money and/or time towards a new project. And, of course, there are no guarantees in life, so there’s no risk avoidance possible here.

So the new advertising project equation we’re faced with is essentially:

NRP > C + T

NRP (New Revenue Potential) > C (Cost of vendor or equipment) + T (Time spent by internal employees in establishing product/project).

An often overlooked cost in this equation is internal: employee time.

The time spent by our employees is perhaps our greatest resource and, when not properly accounted for, can result in a lot of squandered opportunities. While this amount can be somewhat difficult to calculate, since so many of us often work on several tasks and projects at once, even calculating a rough estimate is important.

To find new revenue, we’ve got to be willing to spend some time and certainly some money in properly investigating and exploring new projects and programmes.

But with fewer and fewer resources at our disposal, we must be honest with ourselves and our employees in determining what we can truly accomplish, what we can be successful with, and what we can maintain a competitive advantage in.

There might be a dozen new ideas and programmes we could start this year that would bring in new revenue. But which ones will our competition not be able to beat us at? Which ones can we get off the ground the fastest? With which ones can we assess our success or failure quickly?

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves in the pursuit of new revenue ventures. The answers won’t be easy, but with a mind toward making a sound investment toward future growth, hopefully we’ll generate a reasonable return.

Recent news around the industry is full of non-newspaper people investing in newspapers (or news media, rather).

From Warren Buffett to the Orange County Register print-centric investors and the recent developments with transactions at the Washington Post, Newsweek, and the Boston Globe, we’re seeing a steady increase in business people investing in media (albeit getting some of this media for pennies on the dollar).

There is money to be made here or these savvy investors would not be betting big on media. For those of us on the operating desks inside these media groups, we’ve got to do the same, do so strategically, and be mindful of our opportunity costs in relation to the value of our time.