How do I move from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ the business?

This is a common question and one of the biggest challenges for many business owners who need to move from the Technician, to the Manager, to the Entrepreneur, to the Investor.

Often it is a challenege of letting go or related to the earlier management of profits for reinvestment in future resources such as systems or people.

It’s a case of navigating the transition from operational involvement to strategic leadership in the business.

The entrepreneurial journey often involves a pivotal shift: moving from working ‘in’ your business, where you’re caught up in day-to-day operations, often firefighting and being the bottleneck, to working ‘on’ your business, where you focus on growth and strategy. This shift is crucial for sustainable business development, scaling and most importantly your enjoyment and personal fulfilment.

Here are some thoughts to help you master the shift:

Be clear on the difference:

  • Working ‘In’ the Business: This typically involves handling daily tasks, solving immediate problems, and being deeply involved in the operational aspects. Quite often working on tasks that appear urgent and important.
  • Working ‘On’ the Business: Here, the focus is on strategic planning, growth opportunities, long-term goals, marketing plans, and system improvements. These are those tasks that are so often put to one side until you have time (which you rarely have!) and are perceived as also Important but not urgent, but they are!

Why the Shift is Essential:

  • Sustainability: Working ‘on’ the business ensures long-term growth and survival.
  • Personal Growth: It allows for more personal development and strategic thinking.
  • Scalability: Focusing on the bigger picture makes scaling the business more achievable.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Shift:

  1. Delegation is Key:
    • Ask yourself where you add most value. What role you would do if you were employing yourself.
    • Start by identifying the roles you don’t have to undertake anymore (TIP: draw out an organisational chart that may have your name on all roles and consider the first roles to let go off)
    • Identify tasks that can be delegated (eg those that distract or interrupt you from what you need to do).
    • Invest in training your team to handle these tasks efficiently.
  2. Implement Systems and Processes:
    • Map out your processes to establish what can be automated, delegated, outsourced in full or in part.
    • Create standard operating procedures for routine tasks.
    • Utilise technology for automation where possible.
  3. Set Clear Goals and Objectives:
    • Define what success looks like in the long term.
    • Break down these goals into actionable steps.
  4. Regularly Schedule Strategic Planning Time:
    • Dedicate specific time blocks for strategic planning.
    • Use this time to review goals, purpose, progress, and adjust strategies.
  5. Schedule time for execution:
    • Book time in your diary for working ‘on’ the business that you value as much as an appointment
    • Can you commit x minutes per day, week, month for execution of strategic activities
  6. Build a Strong Team around you:
    • Hire for skills that complement yours.
    • Encourage new team members to first follow your systems (as that’s the best way you’ve found to do it so far) and then utilise their creativity and innovation to improve them.
    • Cultivate a culture of responsibility and ownership.
  7. Seek Mentorship and Coaching:
    • Engage with mentors and business coaches to see the things you don’t see or challenege you with the questions you don’t know to ask.
    • Gain insights and advice from the experience of such professionals.
  8. Learn to Let Go:
    • Trust your team to handle operational tasks. What needs to happen for this to happen?
    • Focus your energy on areas where you add the most value – strategy and growth.
  9. Measure and Adjust:
    • Regularly review business performance against your strategic goals.
    • Have a set of KPI’s that focus on activity and outcomes to easily measure performance. No grey areas! Reduce the gut feeling with data and fact to justify your investment!
    • Be prepared to adjust your strategies based on these insights.

Transitioning from working ‘in’ your business to working ‘on’ it is a gradual process that requires patience, planning, and a mindset shift. By delegating effectively, implementing robust systems, and focusing on strategic planning, you can make this transition successfully, paving the way for sustainable growth and personal fulfilment.

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