Small Business Owners: Work ON Your Business, Not IN It

business growth Oct 19, 2018

For small business owners and entrepreneurs who are down in the trenches running the day to day operations of their business (like most of us), the idea of working ON your business rather than IN it every day sounds like a far-off dream. And for many who haven’t expanded beyond the one-man shop, it just isn’t possible yet to quit those day to day tasks of actually making the product, serving the customers, etc. But there are some key things you can do, and baby steps you can take right now, start spending more time on the systems and processing that will help you grow your business.

Start Working ON Your Business

The key to making changes is often to take small incremental steps or baby steps. If you jump off the deep and start allocating 50% of your time to developing your business, your client relationships are bound to suffer. But on the other hand, if you dedicate 3 hours, one day per week to start, you should be able to pick up the slack from wasted time, long lunches or distraction so that you get the same amount of operations work done as you were before. You may be so busy with operations however that 3 hours together seem astronomical. Relax, don’t let this stress you out, just start with what you can. Set a goal that will provide a moderate challenge, but not cause you to be stretched too thin. Whatever you do, DO NOT tack this time on to the end of your workday by staying late at the office, or on a weekend and take time away from your family. Modify your current schedule to work this time in.

Keep Learning

Now that you have the time set aside, what are you going to do with it? One great way to get started is with a little continuing education. It’s a good idea to focus on refreshing some basic business principles to start with, and then, later on, you can delve into more industry specifics to help you develop systems and processes related to exactly what you do. This is also a good time to take a look at your company’s financials. Start to track your goals more closely and use your time to develop strategies around meeting those goals more quickly. Now is also the time to start documenting the processes surrounding the operations that occupy the other 90% of your time.

Small Business Owners Need Structure

Odds are you started your business so that eventually you could hire someone else to handle those tasks. Well, before you can hire those people to take over those tasks, you will need some structure, possibly a training manual (whether its formal or more loosely organized is up to you and your industry norms), and maybe even some set guidelines around pricing, customer interactions and response times. Not only will these things help your future employees be productive more quickly, they will also help you streamline your own work and get more accomplished in less time.

I know it sounds like a radical idea to many small business owners. But the big idea here is to just get started. Get that first time block on your calendar. Get your first few ideas on systems and processes in writing. Just start! Soon you will have developed a habit of spending time ON your business that you can build on to get you to the level you want to be.

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