The answer is…drum roll please….BOTH!

It may sound silly, but there seems to be a dilemma as to which of these is more important.  So, for those of you who aren’t sure of what the difference is between the two:

Working IN your business concerns revenue-producing, product-fulfilling member activities.

Working ON your business means designing, planning, refining your business, but not directly producing revenue.

Working IN your business:

Working on the aspects of your business that actually produce sales is absoutely vital.  Once you have laid the foundation for doing business, ie: a website, pages and accounts in social media, visual branding, etc. you need to spend about 75{a4b67f6672f8ed37db2925ec54abeeb6c11cd3f1234f9147a9fbedb59652a2c4} of your time on actions that produce tangible results.

Examples of this kind of activity are: cold calling, actively interacting in the most productive marketing channels to bring attention to your business and branding, consistently communicating with past and current clients to preserve that relationship, attending tradeshows, creating youtube videos or podcasts, creating a free report to entice new subscribers to your email list, speaking at a local chamber of commerce event, participating in networking events that are conducive to your niche and so many more.

When you create your task list for each day, be sure that you aren’t doing a lot of busy work.  Budget your time to specific tasks and stay within that budget.  Be sure to let family and friends know that unless it is an emergency (define what an emergency is, in your opinion, to be clear), since this is your business.  I’ve found that most people do not consider your business anything but a hobby when you work from a home office.  They would never consider calling you “at work” if you were working for someone else.

Set office hours, even if they are one or two hours a day and stick to them.  Being in integrity with yourself is absolutely vital to this process.  Successful entrepreneurs make appointments with themselves and honor those appointments as strictly as if they were an appointment with a doctor or attorney or another business person.  When someone asks you to hang out or wants to do something with them, simply reply: “I’m sorry, I have an appointment at that time, can we do it at (fill in the blank) time instead?”  When you get into this habit, you will find you will get more done and most importantly you will make more sales.

On a similar vein, you will want to make firm appointments to speak with potential clients and customers.  Make sure they know that you feel the appointment is confirmed.  “Thanks.  I’ve cleared my schedule for an hour on the 17th at 10 a.m.” for instance.

Have a plan for your time, whether you are a prioritized list person or you schedule blocks of time for specific tasks that are done on a daily or weekly basis.  Wandering from one task to another never really accomplishes what you had hoped.  One strategy I like to use is to reserve the last 15 minutes of my work day to plan the following day, so that when I set to work, I don’t have to wonder where to start.

Limit the time you spend in social media, unless that is where all your customers and clients are and even then, don’t waste your time posting and reposting things that are irrelevant to your business.  Save your social time with family or friends for after your business hours.

Get out from behind your phone and/or tablet or computer to have real conversations, whether that is a phone call or in person.  Personal attention is a lot more productive when creating business relationships and making sales than an impersonal text or email.  You will be surprised how many more clients or customers will show up when you take the time to pay focused attention to them.

Collect “Nos”.  Some of the most successful marketers I know start each day by setting a goal to collect a specific number of “nos” from potential clients or customers.  They know that out of “x” number of “nos” they receive “x” number of “yeses”.  This mindset prevents the business-killing fear so many of us have about presenting our business, product or service to potential clients or customers.  Instead of being traumatized by a no, they simply check it off and say, “That’s ONE!” and move on to the next lead.

Finally, always have somewhere to go:  When you create a great emailing list, or use lead-generating software or lead-generating services, you can be much more productive.  And when you don’t have anyone to talk to about your business, use your working IN your business time to find people to talk to.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is.  Don’t start a business if you aren’t willing to put in the time, effort and resources to make it work.

Working ON your business:

Working IN your business is important, but if you aren’t also working ON your business, you might as well pack it up and go home.  Foundations need to be laid, Plans must be made and all things necessary to your business must be organized and taken care of.

Probably the most important task when working on your business is setting up systems that work, that make your results more consistent, that serve your customers or clients more effectively, assuring that none of them “fall through the cracks.  In the beginning of a start up business, this can be all consuming.  Fortunately, thanks to tools like IFTTT and Zapier, and great organizational suites such as you can find at Google, this is easier than it ever was.

Whether you are a team of one or you have minions (mwahaha) who help you achieve your vision, starting with a plan and being sure you have ever needful thing for you business to scale and grow is vital to the success of your undertaking.

Once these systems are in place, however, it allows you the time and resources to work IN your business for the majority of the time.

 The importance of balance:

There is a lot said of balance as a way of assuring that you don’t stress out when dealing with your growing business.

That being said, there are times when you have to put more time into one side or the other of your business.  This is why prioritizing is so important.  When all is said and done, everyone has their own management style.  Where you spend your time needs to be in alignment with your goals, branding, strategies and the culture of your company.  Only you can determine how that happens.

Don’t allow shiny objects, bells and whistles and what “everybody is saying” get in the way of creating a business where you can produce revenue and improve your product or service in a scalable and satisfying way.



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Vicky Waugh

Great article, working in and on your business is something I had never considered, however I can say I do both having read your article. Since the beginning of this year I’ve been making weekly plans about how I’m allocating time to my business, it’s been working really so far! It really helps me with being consistent in taking action.