As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges you will face is the balancing act of Working On versus In your business. Working IN your business is anything that’s a job: execution and management of the execution.
Working On your business includes strategy. Business, marketing and sales strategy, product development, research, and the vision and decisions that normally are made in a traditional C-suite setting. As you start up or launch new products and/or services, it also includes creating the systems that make your business run.
- Strategic planning
- Product/Service research and development
- Creating duplicatable systems
- Networking – Creating relationships/collaborations
- Funding sources
- Financial projections
Working IN your business are the activities which make your business run; everything that creates and deploys your product and services as well as creating and retaining customers. It’s the execution of those systems normally created by corporate executives and consultants.
- Coordinating the product production
- Providing products/services to customers
- Administrative work
- Hiring collaborators or employees
- Management and execution of marketing/advertising
- Manage sales processes
The business book classic by author, Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited, provides real-life examples and shares why entrepreneurs get stuck, stalling business growth and why working on your business is so important. In order to grow your business, you must create a strategic plan to systemize processes, and be able to delegate them to collaborators or junior team members who can maintain that level of work while you focus on the next stage of growth. This is a realistic way to scale; it’s more affordable than hiring experts and enables you to grow a work force with varying levels of experience and expertise.
So what if you’re running a “One-Woman-Show”?
Solopreneurs can work on their businesses by carving out time to look at the big picture. Push through the angst of busy-ness and set aside time to be sure you’re headed in the right direction. If you want to grow your business and have a personal life, enlist help. By understanding what needs to be accomplished next, connecting with a timeline, delegation becomes easier.
Three Simple Ways To Organize Your Time
1. Define the difference between working ON your business and working IN your business.
Make a list of activities that are “in your business” work versus “on your business” work and be specific. Divide by product/service; marketing, sales, and finance.
2. Create an environment that will help you work on your business.
Focusing on strategic or “big picture” work triggers your brain to think differently. By tapping into the right-side of the brain, (which is connected to the visual, emotional, innovative and imaginative side), it breaks up the patterns of your day-to-day task list, and opens the door to finding innovative and creative solutions for your business.
You may find it helpful, when you first wake up, (before your left brain switches on), to write out the most important things you need to accomplish. How will you get it done? This is about determining when is best, as well as how often. Consider weekly, one-hour strategy session, or, if you prefer to stay in a flow state, less-frequent meetings like a quarterly planning day may be optimal. Depending on the nature of your business, you may consider dedicating an entire business quarter, (I do October-December), that includes strategy, podcast recordings, presenter interviews, and network surveys.
Make it fun! Get excited about tapping into your free-thinking side and turn it into an “event”.
Getting out of the traditional office setting changes your energy and allows you to tap into unique perspectives and mindsets. Find a coffee shop, rent a space, book a conference room, or even go on a mini-retreat. Your local library is also ideal and has amazing business resources.
3. Go at it alone or collaborate?
Do you think you can create a strategy yourself? Do you have a business partner, other owners, or fellow executives that need to weigh in on your plans? If you are running solo, you need a group of trusted advisors that can guide and provide feedback on such subjects as financial, legal contracts, marketing, and general entrepreneurial experiences. Those times when you start to feel overwhelmed and think about quitting, your advisors will help talk you off the ledge.
Although, extra help is good, be careful not to get too many people involved; gather the decision makers only when necessary. Asking too many people for advice takes up time, and if you end up not taking their advice, you run the risk of burning some relationship bridges. Be strategic, invest in self-mastery. Utilize tools that will help you identify your strengths and strategically determine the role(s) you should play in your business and “stay in your lane”. If you’re not a finance expert, for example, enlist the help of an experienced consultant to help you make decisions and create a plan.
Most importantly, time spent working on your business is always a good investment. By creating the time and space you need to work on your business strategy and create systems, you’ll reap many rewards.