How to Work On, Not In, Your Business

How to Work On, Not In, Your Business

Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to be in control, take charge and be able to do what you want to do, how you want to do?

There's a big difference between working in your business and working on your business. Let's look at the difference between the two and how you can truly own your business instead of just owning your job.

Want to listen? There's an audio version below

How to work on your business instead of in it

Creative people often dream of leaving work behind and starting their own business. Their inner “technician”, as Michael Gerber calls it, pushes, pokes and prods them into believing they can do it all. They want to be in control so they can focus on what they do best, and do it how they want to do it.

But few people know the difference between working in your business and working on your business. One allows you the freedom to work from where you want, keep the hours you need, and do what you love. The other is owning your job.

What I want to show you is how you can do the former. I want you to build a business that can function independent of you so you don't have to trade time for dollars. With the right guidance, everyone can own a business that runs on systems and processes while you meet clients face-to-face and do the things only you can do.

Working In Your Business

When you first set out on your own, you're likely to want to do everything. From answering the phones to placing orders and shipping products, beginner business owners want to do it all.

At first, that's ok. Doing your own thing on your own terms is liberating and empowering. Working for yourself is a great way to see what you're worth to the marketplace.

But, after a point, working in your business will start to feel like the job you just left, except more stressful. Instead of working 40-50 hours a week for someone else, you're now working 80-90 for yourself. Working for “the man” left you frustrated, but you still got paid and only had to focus on one task. Now, working for yourself, you feel frustrated, you're trying to get paid, and you have to focus on every task.

Working in your business means you're doing everything and you own your job. You don't have the freedom you thought you'd have when you set out on your own.

Owning your job means you can't step away and let the business run itself.

Working On Your Business

After you realize doing it all yourself is overrated, you can work on your business. Now you realize that to have the freedom you want and be able to step away, you can begin doing things in a different way.

When you work on your business, you build systems. You think of how you can remove yourself from the business equation, and you work on eliminating your need to physically be there. When you work on your business instead of in it, your job shifts from doing tasks to adding people (ie clients) to your system.

Working on your business means you're creating a consistent experience which you can systemize and automate so you can deliver high-quality products and services every time.

It means stepping back and taking a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. Working on your business means you to focus on your strengths and hire someone to fill in the gaps. When you work on your business, your focus is on funneling prospects into a system you know works and which can deliver results, whether you're present or not.

How to Own Your Business

Owning your business doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. Owning your business means you create an environment for success that you can step away from and still see success. In short, it means creating systems that work for you.

Systems allow you to scale. They allow you to be many places at once and provide a quality-experience for everyone who interacts with them. Systems don't mean lower quality. Systems allow your business to make money while you're sleeping (or on vacation) and they allow you to handle problems before they arise.


Here are a few types of systems you can implement today to help you work on your business instead of in it:

Email Systems

Email is still the best way to connect with current and future clients. Autoresponders allow you to drip content to new subscribers so you can deliver useful information.

If you've done a good job segmenting your list and targeting subscribers by their interests and needs, you can deliver the high value content to people who have similar needs.

Email systems allow you to send coupons and tell prospects of upcoming deals. They allow business owners like you to stay in touch with current customers allowing you to always there in the back of your customers' mind. Email systems announce new products. They can share behind the scenes looks at your business and show the person (and personality) behind the brand.

Product Systems

Once you've figured out the best process to create the best products, turn that process into a system.

One of the major pitfalls of small businesses is that product quality and consistency tend to fluctuate. If we have a bad day sometimes our cookies don't taste quite as good or the quality of service isn't what we'd like to deliver.

Not being able to rely on great products with every order leaves prospects and clients with no idea what to expect from you. Imagine getting cookies from your favorite shop and every time they taste different. Some variation helps promote the “homemade” factor and is usually ok; inconsistency of quality is not.

Eliminate your customers' worry and provide them with a product they love, every time. Developing a product system to consistently produce your best possible product will help you work on your business instead of in it.

Customer Service Systems

A customer service system would allow you to track complaints (and compliments) over time. If a product has an issue that several people are experiencing, a system would allow you to identify the problem and eliminate it. Without a system, you may continue selling a defective product without even knowing it.

Conversely, a customer service system could also help you keep track of which products or members of your team are consistently delivering experiences that wows.

Inside my Membership Site, members find a “make a request” tab. There they are able to provide feedback, ask questions, make feature requests, and even report bugs or errors. This customer service system allows me to track feedback and collect responses without requiring me to wait by the phone or answer emails 24/7.

Like this post? You might also like 25 Tools You Should Be Using To Automate Your Business

Other Types of Systems

Scheduling – When you're pulled in a million directions as the business owner, there's no reason to waste time on scheduling. Use software like Calendly or ScheduleOnce with your calendar of choice and eliminate the back-and-forth of scheduling and turn it into a system that works by itself.

Templates – If you find yourself writing the same types of emails on a regular basis, turn that email into a template. Create an Evernote file or a notepad file of frequently used emails and paste them into a new email when you need to. Leave room for customization and personalization, but create a template system for the rest.

Workflow – Tasks you repeat often can be turned into a system. With tools like IFTTT and Zapier, you can automate all sorts of things. Instead of remembering to turn your phone on vibrate during a meeting, have IFTTT do it. Instead of copying contacts from your email system to your CRM, link the two systems and have Zapier do it.

Social Media – Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite makes it easy to share one status update to many social sites at once. When you find something that may help or entertain your followers, don't let that opportunity to share slip by. Add the resource to your social media system and let the computer do the rest.

Also, social media scheduling systems can enable you to share updates when your audience and customers are most engaged even if you're not. You may me be stuck in meetings on Monday mornings, but that may be the best time to share your updates from the weekend with your followers.

There are hundreds of ways to create systems and work ON your business instead of just IN it.

But remember, you can automate the process but you shouldn't automate the connection. Whatever system you create, that system should free you up to connect with people and do the things only you can do.

You may have to look, but I'm sure there are things in your business you could create a system for and automate the process so you can focus on what's important.

Over to you! What systems do you use in your business that have allowed you to step back, relax, and still provide quality products?


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