Should I work IN my business or ON my business?

As a business owner, you may have heard the terms working “in” your business and “on” your business. What are they, why are they important, and does it apply to all  types of businesses?

Working in your business involves all the day to day tasks of managing your business as it is today. Working on your business, on the other hand, is preparing for tomorrow, by investing your time in bettering yourself, your business and in moving it forward to how you envision it to be in one, five or ten years time. 

Many business owners focus most or all of their time on daily tasks – putting out “fires” (urgent issues) and attending to the “must do” activities / tasks on their plates, rather than focus on additional elements, which aren’t necessarily part of your daily routine. Tasks and activities that we say we don’t have time for, or rather, that we don’t create time for. We focus on calling clients, preparing for meetings, going on meetings, production – if you’re in the product industry – and more. More so, when first starting your business, most business owners take on everything themselves, rather than outsource, hire or delegate, to save $. While these daily tasks are important and may be the bread & butter of your business, it’s essential to also allocate “time out” from your daily routine, and work on the planning and long-term aspects of your business, including long-term goals and vision. 

Your time management today directly impacts your goals and vision tomorrow!

This means setting aside time in your week and blocking it off in your calendar (what’s not listed doesn’t usually happen). Working on your business includes taking time to plan ahead, strategize, brainstorm, analyze and track your numbers, ascertain where things are headed, take stock of the day or week that was, what worked well, what could have been improved, budget, plan or write articles, create a video marketing strategy, develop new products, do research, plan your social media or seasonal/annual marketing campaign, investigate new strategic relationships, new lead sources, growing your revenue & more. Like with other priorities in your life, if you don’t set aside time to do this, you’re busy, so it’s not gonna happen automatically. 

Without taking an objective step out of your business and analyzing where things are headed, you may be moving in circles, and not even realize it. Many in and on business tasks differ according to the type of business. Yet many are the same. All managers and business consultants/coaches will agree that to succeed in the long run, all businesses need to comprise both these activities. The idea is to find a balance,and the correct one, between working in and on your business. 

Working in your Business = Execution (day to day tasks & responsibilities)

Working on your Business = Strategy & Development

Where do you start? Analyze all the possible activities you need to perform in order to be effective and successful in your business and role. List next to each activity whether it’s a current and immediate daily task, or whether it involves an activity related to your future. Ask yourself how often you need to be doing each of these tasks in order to be “on top” of all the aspects involved in running your business. Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.? Schedule these activities & tasks to your calendar, whether it be hourly, daily or monthly. Yes, block it off and set a meeting with yours truly, YOU! 

Why is it that we are quick to schedule meetings with others, yet have a problem with, or don’t see the importance of scheduling with ourselves?

Ask yourself on any given day or week – What did I do today to work in my business? What did I do today to work on my business? Because remember… Today’s activities are tomorrow’s profits. The labor of today will bring you the fruits of tomorrow!

Lesley Kaplan is passionate about life and enhancing people & processes! As a Business Strategy, Branding & Goal-Achieving Coach, Consultant & Trainer, she enhances & empowers businesses, organizations & individuals in identifying, setting and achieving their goals, and in improving their results by “Building, Branding & Boosting”. She coaches and trains individuals and groups, both online and face-to-face, as well as organizes and facilitates monthly networking, business & development events & workshops. She is the Founder & CEO of “L.A.K. Creations & Consulting” and “Build Your Biz with Lesley Kaplan”.