Archive - 01/09/2015

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What does “working on your business” actually mean?

What does “working on your business” actually mean?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “don’t work in your business, work on your business.”

But what does that actually mean? For most of us it probably conjures up the difference between working hard at making or selling your product, or keeping the books, or labouring over the store – physical or online, versus a picture of being a relaxed leader working out “strategies” and “innovation” to grow your business.

For those of us who have tried to apply it practically, that picture simply doesn’t work! While you try to take time out to work out strategies or develop new techniques in your business, things just don’t happen in it. While we try to work on our business by developing better marketing plans or improving customer service, all it means is that later we have to catch up on working in the business. Am I right? Running a small business is a busy task!

When I started my first business I was busier than busy. I left my big international financial services firm to start a medium sized consulting practice with a couple of partners. True, while I spent a lot of my working hours (or let’s be honest, most of my waking hours) working in the business by dealing with client affairs and consulting directly with clients, I was able to work “on my business” during Partner-meetings where we discussed marketing, new products and hires and fires. To me then, that was working on the business and it wasn’t too difficult because we had borrowed and used the excellent internal administration systems from our previous firm.

But that was it wasn’t it – I wasn’t really working on my business, I was working in the administration of my business.

I found the real truth of working on the business when I left that partnership to start my own boutique consultancy where I hired from scratch and had to set up from scratch. There was no way I could have continued to work in the client advisory side of the new business as well as in the administration of the business – I would have killed myself.

So what did I do? Read More

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