Working On and/or In Your Business – The Crucial Distinction!
As a small business owner and an entrepreneur, one of the hardest challenges faced is how to balance time between working in the business and working on the business. That in lies a critical distinction. For a business like mine here in the Upstate of South Carolina, I have to consistently looks for ways to refine and strengthen my business model. I am a Storyteller and I make money off of telling others’s stories using video, digital media, and social media.
If you are self-employeed or own a small business, you have probably started at day one doing both. It goes in cycles, you spend lots of time growing your business and when you take on clients, you then focus on serving those commitments. This is a good business cycle to have, so we should maximize our time and remember that when are not racking up billable hours, we need to grow our business.
Defining our terms:
Working On Your Business
This is when you are spending time and energy away from those billable hours to do the following:
- Business Development – seeking out new business opportunities, partnerships, or forging relationships and creating a plan.
- Working the Numbers – spending time not only servicing the books (finances) but also thinking strategically how to grow your business financially. Creating budgets for growth areas and contrast them with what is necessary to operate your business.
- Marketing – spending time working on your business message and delivering that message to the right audiences, using the right mediums. Creating and evolving your marketing plan and budget.
- Seminars/Conferences – spending time to grow as a business owner. Seeking out venues for you to meet like minded people and those who can help you grow.
- Rest – spending time away from your business to enjoy family and friends…the things that make you smile. ROR is crucial for reflection and critical for ROI.
Working In Your Business
- Generating billable hours – working with your clients to serve or satisfy your contractual obligations
- Business Development – executing time to pitch those clients, meeting prospects, generating proposals for your next set of billable hours.
- Servicing the Numbers – making sure that you are keeping up with your invoicing, liabilities, expenses, and operating costs. This is crucial to do weekly, monthly, then quarterly to get ready for Uncle Sam and his state friends.
- Servicing your relationships – writing thank you notes, taking a client to lunch, making follow-up phone calls, things necessary to be considered your clients “go-to” person.
- Marketing – executing daily, weekly, and monthly your marketing strategy.
It is my belief that a small business owner should spend the same amount of time on Working On Your Business as the billable hours your generate when you are working in your business. For every hour you bill a client, you should spend that same amount of time growing your business.
Great post! I’ve been pressing the IN/ON difference for quite a while now. I usually try to encourage small business owners to eventually move more and more towards working ON the business as they grow. For most that I talk with, it is usually like 80-90% IN and only about 10-20% ON the business. Your 50/50 rule of thumb is a great place to start. Very good info!
Thanks for the note. Yeah…it is tough to find the balance between servicing the revenue stream and growing the revenue stream. I felt this was a good barometer for those with a business where they are trading time for money. But as the business grows, and it is grown strategically, you can begin to invest more time in working on the business. But a lot of times, it all depends on the type of business, would you agree?
Yep, agree. Some people also really enjoy their trade and working in their business is more enjoyable for them.