Are you working In the business or On the business?

As a small business owner I am always in the state of either working in or on the business.  I really could not grasp the difference initially when I started my firm almost 2.5 years ago, but as we have grown and continue to increase our scope I feel this pull and tug every day and in many ways. 

Just what is the difference in working On the Business versus In the Business:

  • Working in the business is not much different than working for any other business-the major difference is that when I work in the business my opportunities to delegate and develop others are limited
  • Working on the business allows me to look at not what we ARE now doing, but we we COULD be doing; it is more future focused and less about today
  • Working in the business is a comforting place when I don’t think anyone else can do something quite as well as I can-it gives me selfish pleasure, but it also robs me of valuable time
  • Working on the business allows me to focus others on areas where they can develop and it also allows me to focus on areas where I can grow myself personally-this stretching can be quite stressful when it clashes with working in the business

You would never know this, but I am typing this post at 30,000 feet while flying to Kansas City to work on the business.  We are going through some choppy turbulence and it reminds me of the way I feel when being IN the business conflicts with working ON the business.

Think about that.

If you are a small business owner I suspect you will feel the same turbulence I am feeling, regardless of your altitude.

If your business is going to grow and be sustainable, work on the business and spend less time in the business.

I’ll be back again soon to talk more about this.

If you would like to read more about this topic I suggest you look up Jeff Cornwall, head of the Entrepreneurship program at Belmont University.  He writes a column weekly for the Tennessean newspaper here in Nashville.