It’s no doubt that small business owners are hard working people. It takes a lot of focus, dedication and hard work to venture out on your own and start your own business. However, many small business owners make the mistake of spending too much time working in their business instead of working on their business. There is a subtle, but powerful, difference between the two types of work.

What is Working On Vs. Working In Your Business?

Working in your business is defined as the day to day tasks that make businesses run smoothly. Creating products, fulfilling service contracts, handling receivables and paying bills are all examples of working in a business. Some of this work may be drudgery (like the bookkeeping) and some of it may be enjoyable (like completing the service) but it’s all part of working in the business.

In contrast, working on your business is a more long term approach. When you are working on your business, you are planning for long term growth. You are coming up with strategies that will help your business expand and become more of what you want it to be. The problem many small business owners encounter is that they are so focused on the day to day details of your business that they forget that they need to work on growing their business.
If you’ve found yourself stuck in the “nose stuck to the grindstone” mode of working in your business, you need to begin finding ways to work on your business.

Outsource the “drudgery” so you can focus on the quality parts of the business that you enjoy.

Some small business owners are married to the idea of accomplishing everything that needs to be done in their business themselves. This comes from an intense desire to be in control of the business. Since your livelihood depends on the success of your business, you may want to keep a finger in each pie, so to speak. However, letting a professional or another staff member take care of some of the drudgery that you resist (like accounting) can free up your time so you can work on your business rather than in it. Make a list of things that you aren’t specialized in and find an alternative person or service to do it. For many clients in our bay area office space, this is exactly why they contract our services

Schedule planning meetings with yourself to work on the business.

Working on the business requires you to think about your business in the long term. It means looking at where you’d like to go with your products or services and how you’d like your business to grow. Most business owners have a planning session at least once a year, but if you want to survive as a business you need to do this every few months. Decide what areas of your business need work and then dedicate yourself to working on those areas. Set goals, make plans and then develop a follow up plan to keep yourself accountable.

Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, Pacific Business Centers (rebranded as Pacific Workplaces)

Courtney’s research for Pacific Business Centers focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and office space infrastructure.