“Why do so many small business owners struggle just to survive?”
I have spent the past few years asking myself this question.
I've noticed repeatedly that business owner after business owner has gotten sucked into a black hole and strung along on the hamster wheel, of just trying to keep their head above water. I spoke with a guy not that long ago who said “You know Steph, there's paychecks coming in every single day, but they're all going back out at the end of the week. There’s nothing left in the bank account.”
As our conversation continued and I asked him what he would really love to be doing if he could afford to just go do what he loves, he said he’d just spend all his time in business development and I came to a shocking realization.
Time after time, business owners fail to recognize that their #1 most important job is to work ON the business. And there’s a major misconception about what it means to work ON the business versus what it means to work IN the business.
And I understand that we have this massive misconception because I find myself falling prey to the same issues.
In fact, just the other week I was working on building out a landing page for one of our new funnels. I was having a blast with it and I was excited. I’ve been focused all year on ensuring I spend proper amounts of time working ON the business each week, and I’d color-coded this task as working ON the business.
In the midst of working on the page though, I suddenly had a sinking realization that I was actually working IN my business once again.
Working ON the business means that you are planning and strategizing, you're learning specific, business-growth oriented concepts that work on the structure or design of the total business, and then figuring out how to apply what you've learned to the real world.
Building a landing page isn't working ON the business, that's working IN the business. Deciding to create a funnel is working ON the business. Building and designing the funnel itself is working IN the business.
Building your website, recording a video, putting together a blog, meeting with clients, sometimes even attending classes, isn't working ON the business. If you're learning skills that are only going to allow you to work IN the business, then how is that a class that's helping you work ON the business?
I argue that it’s not.
We have to start attending classes and doing stuff that gets us to think in terms of strategies that get you to start being the business owner. Back to designing and guiding and directing the business.
Mike Michalowicz talks about this in his book, Clockwork; he mentions a study that they did a few years back where they would blindfold the participants and ask them to walk a straight line. Without the ability to correct their course based on something on the horizon (a mountain, a tree, a rock), they found that the study applicants would walk in circles, most of them in such a small circle that they would not have made it all the way across a football field, the short way.
Without the planning and the stepping back to take a look at your business overall and without looking at where you are today and where you are going, how can you course correct?
We all know that if you leave on a boat for Europe from New York City and you're off by one degree and then don’t correct that mistake, you'll end up at the tip of Africa instead of in Europe: completely different continents!
As business owners, we have to start prioritizing stepping back to spend time working on and planning the business. To start looking at the direction of the business and ensure that the business continues to move forward, not sideways.
I get it, it’s hard to do when we’re struggling
to pay the bills sometimes.
But if we don’t start holding ourselves accountable, we will continue treading water just to keep our head high enough to avoid drowning. And that’s no fun.
Step back at least once a week. Review your accomplishments, and your goals and course correct.
Trust me, sooner or later there will be a swell of water that will come along, and if you’re not moving forward, you’ll be forced under and lucky to get back to the surface.
Make a difference.
Make it happen.
Dedicate 1 hour to working ON your business this week!
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