How to mind your own business and learning when to work on it or in it

Do you find yourself spending more time working in your business than on your business? For all the small business owners out there, this one’s for you.


Over the years I’ve been invited to speak at different networking events to talk about how I started my business and share insights that might help other business owners. These mostly revolve around the education sector since that’s the basis of my business. And they largely revolve around a discussion about education and changes in the industry. But more and more, I think about how much of what I’ve experienced can actually be applied to people building business in a range of sectors. I guess that’s partly why I wanted to start writing these blogs – to share my experiences in the hope that they might inspire others.


What it highlighted to me is that for every big corporation that’s high up in the sky here enjoying a macro perspective, there is a wealth of knowledge sitting within a plethora of small businesses that orbit them at ground level. A raft of SME’s that contain valuable micro perspectives that could enlighten others.


So I thought it might be helpful to look back and shed light on the things I see that could be a comfort to those trying to get ahead in their own ventures.


Chances are, you started your business not only because you have a particular skill set that you can apply to a certain industry, or you saw a gap in the market, but because you have a passion for what you do. Because the reality is, most of us are not going to get rich inside our own enterprises. If that was the prime motivator we’d probably all be off trying to get perky jobs in those aforementioned multinationals. However, passion can quickly die if you don’t protect it by having systems in place for dealing with administrating your business. It’s one reason so many small businesses fail.


And this brings me to my main point: working on your business as opposed to working in your business.


When you’re first starting out, learning how to scale your enterprise is a tricky thing to get right. What makes your business unique is you and it’s your DNA that has inspired growth. But for your business to continue to grow, you need to know how to let go of the reins and inculcate others into the doing of things. This might mean outsourcing functions like accountancy or using the services of a virtual assistant to do data entry or respond to enquiries. Or maybe it means investing in software or apps that help to streamline your processes. Whatever it is, building self-discipline around knowing when to work in or on your business is the number one skill I think all business owners should focus on developing.


How? These are my top tips:


  1. Know that you can’t do it all and delegate
  2. Understand the value of your time
  3. Have the confidence to allow other styles of doing things to flourish
  4. Appreciate that some people can do things better than you – surround yourselves with experts in their field
  5. Knowing when it’s too expensive for you to perform a task so outsource or delegate (see point 1)
  6. Work out where you can add maximum value (often as the public-facing person that deals with investors, sponsors, marketers etc)
  7. Collaborate, converse, and look for opportunities to make allies and mentors of supposed competitors
  8. Know when to ask for help.


To paraphrase Beyonce, who runs the world? You do. You own your experience.

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