Business 

How to Work ON, Not IN the Business.

Co-founder and Director of Exante Digital

How often have you heard someone say that as the owner of a business, you ought to be “working on your business, not in it”?
I know that I have said that exact phrase to myself on more than one occasion.
But what is the difference between working on and working in your business?

Working IN Your Business.

You can be forgiven for questioning what is wrong with this statement, after all, things are going well.
However, when you are working in your business, there is no one to develop a long-term, strategic vision and nobody is willing to see what the business could be 5 years down the track.

When you work within the business, the probability that you will develop ‘tunnel vision’ is massive. As the owner (and boss), you will not receive any meaningful feedback from employees. Furthermore, your outlook on the business will get stale because you are not chatting with clients and utilising that criticism to improve and grow your business.

Working ON Your Business.

So, what would change if an owner began working on the business instead of in it?
Firstly, the owner of a business would not be the first into the office and the last one out. In many cases, successful business owners don’t even consistently go to the office. But that isn’t to say that they are doing nothing for the business.
They focus on the external environment.

Networking with other like-minded entrepreneurs thought leaders and industry experts can have a massive impact on the perception that a business owner has of their own business. Through the connections, you can learn about the challenges that have faced other business owners and find solutions that can also be applied to your business. Furthermore, working outside of the business can help to inspire new ideas and ways of doing things.

The consequences.

You can be forgiven for being more than a little sceptical of this approach to running a business, after all, don’t you need to be there?
The truth is that sometimes you do need to be there, perhaps you’re launching a new project or you’re pushing to make a tight deadline. However, always working in your business will ultimately do it more harm than good.

It is perfectly natural to feel frustrated or burnt out when you’ve owned a business for a long period of time. But that usually comes from investing your energy into undertaking other individual’s issues that you’ve acknowledged as simply being part of the business.
To run a successful business, you need to have a high level of personal satisfaction and be able to delegate some responsibility to your employees (you might be surprised by what they can achieve with a little bit of freedom).

And sure, they will make errors. That is something that you can depend on.

But individuals don’t learn by doing the same monotonous work every day. Nor do they learn by being spoon-fed a solution to every single problem that arises. They learn by being given the opportunity to make mistakes and to take the initiative to fix them because after all, you can’t run a successful business on your own. You need fresh perspectives and people to bounce ideas off of and that is something that you will never achieve by working in your business.