Working ‘In’ or ‘On’ Your Business?

Working ‘In’ or ‘On’ Your Business?
June 25, 2012 Derek Fournier

While this most directly applies to entrepreneurs, the concept is simple. As you toil away, working on status reports, handling client requests and making your widgets, are you spending the right percentage of time working in your business versus working on it?

You may be wondering, “Dude, did you have too much to drink this weekend?”

As a matter of fact, no, I didn’t. As esoteric as the difference between ‘on’ and ‘in’ may seem, I assure you that the difference will make the difference between successful growth of your department or business and the continued hammering away at a seemingly never-ending set of top priority yet usually completely non-strategic work items.

Take the small business owner as an example (and there are tons of great books on this topic including one of my favorite, The E-Myth Revisisted. The time requirements for you are daunting. You are the final line of defense for all internal needs from accounting to repairing a toilet. Many times you are the primary provider of your service as well. This very real focus on you as the center of the universe, while ego stroking in its nature has been the undoing of many excellent start-ups.

You cannot do it all nor should you. You must strive to spend an appropriate time on the following things or your current project may succeed while your business dies on the vine.

  1. Respond to people in a timely fashion

Communication is critical. Whether it is responding to requests for information, returning emails or replying to calls, you have got to be available and responsive or people will simply stop trying to contact you.

  1. Do what you say you will

This one is a lot more difficult than it seems. When you say something will be done Tuesday, get it done. IF you say a quote will be complete by the 27th, have it done by that date. This is your first form of contract with someone. Set the tone by fulfilling it.

  1. Over communicate if you have to

People like to know they are being heard. Silence makes people feel ignored.

It is amazing to me how many small and large companies fall victim to the concept that a particular project is so critical that no time at all can be taken to tend to the rest of the business. It is like a farmer growing so concerned about harvesting his squash that he forgets to water the rest of the garden. (I had to pick a vegetable I kinda like to get emotional about that analogy).

If people have to harass you to inform them about how they can spend money with you in the form of purchasing your goods and services you are an idiot and you will fail as surely as the farmer above will wake up with a lot of squash and a failed garden.

Tips to help

Yea, I know. Your <insert whatever the hell you do here> is so unique that only through the thoughtful and time consuming hands on evaluation can you possibly prepare a work of art that is your proposal for services.

I call bullshit.

Create a set of standard service offerings. We all know that the 80-20 rule (Pareto Principal) is annoyingly appropriate. I assert that most of you can break down your core services into template service offerings. By doing so you are providing a ‘Menu’ of sorts. Ever eat at a restaurant without a menu? It is rare and to be honest, confusing. We like choices. Sure, once we understand our choices, we often like to customize, but give us a place to start.

So as a call to action, look at your business and start to create some core business offerings. Build a simple and clear proposal around them and come up with some bookended costs. That way when that annoying potential client calls (my sarcasm should be SCREAMING AT YOU RIGHT NOW) you can use the service offering, appropriately customize (or better yet, create a discovery service offering that provides value as you collect the information you need!) and respond in a timely fashion.

You may think that you are too busy to do these things but I assure you, if you don’t, you’ll have way more time on your hands then you want.





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