Are you working ON your business or IN your business?

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Understanding the distinction between working on or in your business could impact the long-term success of your company. When new entrepreneurs try to cover all aspects of the business themselves, they may become their company’s best employee; but who’s running things and focusing on growth?

Of course, we have to spend considerable time working in the business to have a business at all. But if we’re acting like a full-time overtime employee and never stepping into the role of CEO in order to lead the business, we’re not going to get very far.  

How do you break the cycle? How do you as a business owner, give yourself time to develop your business beyond the daily grind?  

Working On Your Business vs. Working In Your Business

If you’re like most small business owners, with or without employees, your default is working “in” your business. You’re entrenched in the details of everyday tasks related to the core of your business, doing the type of activities that have to get done, the work that directly produces revenue for your business. 

Working on your business, however, entails a lot of different things including includes anything strategic: business strategy, marketing strategy, sales strategy, product development, research, and the vision and decisions that live in the C-suite. As you start up or launch new products, it also includes creating the systems that make your business run. Although you may think that working on your business is purely about expanding business that’s not entirely true. 

When you spend time to work on your business you actually learn to evaluate where your business is at, where the weaknesses lie, what opportunities are present and what things you can do to improve your quality of service, customer experience and revenue. Other things you can do to work on your business involve team bonding, relationship building/networking, social media management or website construction and not to forget your own professional development. 

Why It Matters

It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day operations of your business, yet it’s critical to remember how important working on your business can be. Don’t let that part of your job as business owner slip through the cracks or your company will suffer long-term.  

“I know from experience how easy it is to just work IN your business for weeks and weeks and even months without doing anything to work ON your business,” writes Cam Langsford, founder and developer at Training Tilt, a software platform for running and endurance. “For me this happened because I was running my business in a re-active way instead of a proactive way. Every day stuff happens so you deal with that stuff and if you aren’t very careful the day will end without achieving much at all to help your business move forward.” 

It’s a bridge every entrepreneur has to eventually cross as they grow their company — the transition from “doing” to “leading,” says Ray Silverstein, president of the President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups, and author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses.”  

“Good leaders know when to get out of their own way,” says Silverstein in a blog posted on 

Of course you can’t simply drop the daily tasks of running your business but you can learn to create pockets of time in your week or month to steal away from working in the business. Because working on your business is vital to your long term success. 

Start By Working ON Your Personal Resilience

You are the engine of your business, the most valuable client, the one who carries the entire operation. How would a top client feel if you set a goal together only to let it pass unattended? The more you work ‘on’, the easier the work you do ‘in’ will get. 

Entrepreneurs are the center of gravity in their business at the outset. To effectively work on the business, entrepreneurs need to work on themselves and their personal resilience. Developing a routine that incorporates mindfulness, physical wellness, social connection and a confirmation of purpose will provide the clarity, stamina, perspective and drive to work on the right things. 

Invest In yourself !

Your business or career cannot grow unless you do. Success doesn’t happen because your external circumstances get better, it happens because you get better! 

As a business owner and as the boss of your life, you are 100% responsible for your training, education and personal development. So read books, listen to podcasts, go to events and workshops, hire a coach and invest in professional help for any health issues that are holding you back. An investment in yourself is an investment that will always pay itself back. 

As the boss of yourself and your business, you need to know where you’re going and why, and make high-level strategic decisions accordingly. Once you are clear on your vision, you can set relevant goals on the path to get there. Don’t have a vision for your business? We can help you!  

We help Small Business Owners, Start-Ups, Entrepreneurs, Freelancer & Sole Traders to achieve what they want in their business and personal lives! Our Online On-Demand Programs are your affordable and result-driving Transformation Forces combining Coaching, Consulting and Enablement – all you need for your Business Success and Personal Wellbeing. Learn more here

If you would like more resources or a one-to-one confidential, individually tailored Coaching & Consulting session to help you grow your business, get in touch with us by filling the contact form below! 

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