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Work On, Not In!

I recently re-read a book by Michael Gerber called: The E-Myth Revisited; Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.

It is a follow-up to his original book, The E-Myth, written back in the 1980’s. The ‘E’ in the title is a reference to ‘Entrepreneurship’, not it’s more common use nowadays as a shorthand for ‘electronic’.

The premise of the book is, and I quote Gerber:

What I’ve discovered is that the people who own small businesses work far more than they should for the return they’re getting.” He goes on: “Indeed, the problem is not that the owners of small businesses don’t work; the problem is that they’re doing the wrong work. As a result, most of their businesses end up in chaos – unmanageable, unpredictable and unrewarding.”

Whilst at first glance, that final comment might seem harsh, in reality it’s closer to the truth than we might like to think. Just consider for a moment the number of businesses that either fail or fail to successfully grow.

In the book, Gerber goes on to explain the problem that many business owners face; caught up in a cycle of long hours doing mundane tasks just to keep the business running. If we were honest, at times we’ve all been there. Sitting at our PC or laptop at 9 o’clock in the evening responding to emails, sending out invoices or carrying out some other administrative task.

As Gerber argues, it is hardly conducive to a healthy ‘work-life’ balance. In truth, one of the main reasons we went into business in the first place was because we wanted a better ‘work-life’ balance. Instead, we find our ‘work-life’ balance gets worse as the business and its needs take over, and in the words of Gerber, the business becomes unmanageable, unpredictable and unrewarding.

So, what to do?

Essentially, the rest of the book unpacks a key principle, which is the importance of ‘working on your business rather than in it’.

Gerber covers a lot of ground, but one of the key points he makes is the importance of setting up systems, controls and processes. This enables business owners to step back from the day-to-day operation of the business that otherwise, can so easily get them ‘bogged down’.

Whether it’s the operational aspect of the business, sales and marketing, or accounting and finance, these areas, whilst all important, have the potential to take up time ‘doing the wrong work’.

So, what is the solution. How do we spend more time working on our business rather than in it? There are of course many ways, but essentially they can be boiled down to either automating or delegating tasks.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Automate the marketing process and the follow-up sales process. There are now many great marketing and CRM systems available. Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Active Campaign to name a few. These are integrated systems which once set up can automate your entire sales and marketing process.

Email marketing campaigns can be planned and scheduled. Follow-up processes can be put in place so that prospects are automatically contacted using a pre-set schedule.

Data can also be segmented, meaning you automatically get information about the key prospects you should be having sales conversations with.

  • Delegate to your existing team. Give them increasing levels of responsibility for the tasks that are part of the day-to-day operation of the business. Not only will it free up your time for other things, but it will help your team fulfil their potential whilst boosting their moral at the same time.
  • Hire new team members. You may decide to do this virtually. I know of many businesses which operate very successfully using a team of virtual assistants, who are often located thousands of miles away in other parts of the world.

In fact, I’m about to trial using a virtual assistant in my own business. Historically, I’ve always employed someone who ‘comes to work’ in an office. But the world has changed and many very successful businesses, both large and small, benefit hugely from having a ‘virtual’ team in place.

These are just some ideas that may help you take a step back from the day-to-day running of your business so you can spend more time thinking, creating and providing strategic direction.

That’s when you will really begin to see changes in your business, because now you are working on your business not in it. My suggestion is to read The E-Myth. You can get it here:

Happy reading!