Are You Working In Your Business Or On Your Business?

Are You Working In Your Business Or On Your Business?

As a small business owner and insurance broker, it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of our business. Most owners spend the majority of their time working “in” their business only to find out later that their sales eventually start to stagnate without any type of sustained growth. They waste precious advertising dollars just “trying” new things to bring in new customers and hoping and praying something works. They are so busy working “in” the business they don’t have time to work “on” the business.

The first thing to solve the” in or on” issue is to get some help. When a small business start up happens, it is usually a one person show. Once the business becomes profitable, the owner must seek help. They need to either hire a W2 employee or a 1099 independent contractor depending on the business and the need. Henry Ford had a philosophy that he would rather make a $1.00 from 100 men than to make $100 by himself. He understood the idea of building a team. This will also free up the important time needed to start working “on” the business. Let’s explore some ideas of working “on” the business.

One of the best tools I have found to work “on” my business is to join or found a Mastermind group. Napoleon Hill started the concept with the idea that back in 1937 when he wrote the book “Think and Grow Rich”. It is the old saying of “two heads are better than one”. Hill believed in the power of 6 to 10 like minded people become one “super brain” and solve issues and create invaluable ideas. I personally prefer to have diversity of totally unrelated professions in our group. I see my business totally different through other people’s eyes that are not in my industry.

The next activity that is a must is to join networking groups. In order to work “on” your business, you have to step away from it and take a look like a consumer. Making connections through networking is invaluable to growing a business allows you to meet people and get their perspective of your business. Also, through these connections you will begin to build referral sources. Remember, you don’t want to find golden eggs but a goose that lays them.

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed”-Napoleon Hill

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

31 Responses to Are You Working In Your Business Or On Your Business?

  • It’s been my experience that small business owners tend to become ‘operations specialists’, excellent at doing what they see as their daily work. In the process, they often lose the vision that moved them to get into business in the first place. It’s a real struggle to lift their eyes up from ‘running the store’ and set the goals and make the plans that growth requires. Your suggestion of a mastermind group resonates with me. We’ve combined it with networking in that we spend some time in workshops, discussing the issues posed by a member, some time addressing new skills, we bring in outside speakers as well as hear from our own members, and we use ‘house calls’, meetings with members outside of regular meetings to learn more about each other and attempt to broaden each other’s sphere of acquaintance.

  • Robert, that is an excellent idea. I really appreciate you sharing that with us. Many thanks.

  • Getting the agents in my office to understand this concept isn’t always easy, especially when many are part-timers that work other jobs. It’s all they can do to “do” real estate. But it’s a point well-taken and encourages me as I look for new ways to help them energize their businesses. Great article!

  • I am guilty of working in my business~ It is easy get focused on the “tasks” for lack of better words, and think you can get to the marketing, etc “later”. Some of my clients are guilty of this as well. They know their business is running well, and letting go of some of that control is hard for them. It is hard to step out of that role for some people.

  • Lisa, thank you for sharing, I hope you found the tips useful. It is very hard to change focus at first, try the steps. I speak from experience it helps

  • Most start up businesses spend 80% of their time in their business and only 20% on their business. To be successful, they need to swap those to 80% “on” and 20% “in” or, they will forever be self employed (creating a job for themselves) and never a business owner (a business that can be sold).

  • Robert, that is perfectly said! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us

  • The situation I am in right now. Determining how to get an assistant and how to pay them.

  • Martin, have you considered a temp? What may seem like a premium will be made up in flexibility.

  • Martin, I agree with Robert. When I hired my first assistant I used a temp to perm service until I found the right person. It is a little step back financially, but a big step forward to profitability. Time is your most precious asset. Without it your business will stagnate at some point. Best of luck!

  • Robert! Well said and it sounds fantastic in words but in reality when you are trying to over service your clients and no capital avail to pay staff who will be doing an actual work if not yourself? I might be incorrect but with a right advise we all succeed. Cheers, Marina

  • Marina, on of the main reason a companies fail is under capitalization. If you don’t have sufficient funds, you may have to work more in your business until you can work on your business. However, the mind set should be towards not doing it all yourself or you will never grow from a “created job” (self employed) to a business (something you can sell someday).

  • Robert,
    I”d like to suggest that saying that most small business failures are due to undercapitalization is like saying most deaths are the result of heart stoppage. While they are both true they can overlook some important contributing factors. In the case of most small businesses an awful lot of the undercapitalization can be traced to inadequate business planning. An effective plan and metrics can keep an entrepreneur on top of capital flow. Do they have enough, how much will it take, what’s the back-up plan? Many entrepreneurs are a bit optimistic about both capital and time required, and a solid plan and metrics (working on your business) can help prevent that from becoming fatal.

  • Robert, you are so correct. Capital keeps the business heart beating. No capital and you flat-line.

  • I also believe to find right and competent candidate so you can rely upon them is crucial then you as a owner can work and concentrate on a business to win more clients and market yourself through networking, ads, etc so you can be successful slowly but surely.
    And that is my plan of attack.

  • Great article. I thing my first comment or suggestion would be to look at interns. We have had 4 interns and all of them filled the role. Three were outstanding! The next item we discuss is collaboration. We have a group just for those who work in the 401k space. Collaboration is the new competition. Last but not least, joint work. We write about it here if anyone cares to read it. http://bit.ly/PTsQf3

  • Chuck, that is a great comment about using interns. I personally have never tried that route, but have business friends that went that route and had great success. I appreciate you sharing that great idea.

  • Tim and All,
    They are quite essential IMO. The next one we bring in will not be for nuts and bolts. We will not look for one interested in joining the business. Thanks for the thread and the comments.

  • Tim,
    I would also state that collaboration is going to be key. Sharing ideas and pros and cons work well. Here is a link to the group event we are doing next month. http://linkd.in/QNzsuL We talk about collaboration here, if anyone cares to read it. http://bit.ly/PGTOLd

  • Chuck the collaboration is an essential part of business growth. The mastermind is one the of the best tools to accomplish that. Especially in the business infancy stages when the business owner is still a “sole proprietor”. Thanks again for sharing on this informative conversation string.I like to blog as well.

  • Glad to help continue the conversation. Thanks for kind words

  • Chuck, my last line should have read, I like your blog as well. Not enough caffine, my appologies.

  • Tim,
    I figured it out. I just sent you a present based on your article via twitter! I hope you like it

  • Thank you Chuck, that is a very cool pic. I appreciate it.

  • Thanks, Tim. It’s a great read with excellent advice.

  • Thx for this excellent advise

  • Mastermind groups are really powerful with the right mix of people in the team !

  • I like the flow of the ideas

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