Evolutionary Business Design

What’s the difference between working IN and working ON the business?

As a business owner you wear a lot of hats. Some of them fit better than others, and some of them should not even be on your hat rack!

It’s a tricky question the ON and the IN because the lines are often blurred.

Take Finance

In a small business you might wear the Financial Manager hat. It doesn’t mean that you do everything, but you’re responsible for it. The buck stops with you.

Working IN the business as the Financial Manager your roles might be to do the bookkeeping, manage accounts payable and receivable, manage payroll, tax compliance etc. That would be working IN your business. It’s in your job description.

But “Financial Manager” takes on a different meaning when you talk about working ON the business. In this case you would be doing very different things like:

  • Being accountable for the financial performance of your business – even if you are the boss!
  • Analysing data to get the facts about your business performance before you make decisions.
  • Setting sales budgets and working out how you and your team will achieve them.
  • Setting the overall financial goals for the business and scheduling monthly meetings with the team to monitor strategies and outcomes.
  • Reading your scorecard weekly and monthly to find out if you’re on track and making timely course corrections if you’re not.

What about Production?

Working IN the Production area of your business you might be the one serving the customers, doing the technical work or making “widgets”.

Working ON the Production area you’d typically be:

  • Liaising with Finance to make sure the products and services are profitable.
  • Training the team in technical skills and customer service skills so you do less and they do more which in turn frees up more of your time to work ON the business.
  • Working on innovating and developing your products and services to separate you from the competition and meet customer demands.
  • Finding new technology to help you produce what you do more efficiently.
  • Talking to your customers to find out what they want.

Get the idea?

Now it’s your turn.

Describe all the hats you wear.

Make an IN and ON list for each one.

Look at the list and decide which are the most important, enjoyable and enriching tasks for you. Then take the working ON tasks and make them part of your job description. Make sure you schedule the tasks to do them regularly.

You won’t be good at everything. You don’t have to be. Do your most profitable “working ON the business” growth tasks and hire other people to fill the gaps.

Share via
Copy link