a hand holds a compass to determine which direction to go

What are you doing this Friday to grow your business? Your company’s future may depend on your answer!

Your business will not grow if you spend all of your time working in the business instead of on the business. In nature, things either grow or they die. If you’re not actively working to grow your business, then there’s a good chance that it could be slowly dying.

work on your business not just in it

It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person show or if you have a team, whether you operate a boutique business or a plumbing company. How you spend your time and energy as the owner will largely determine the fate of your business.

In vs. on… what’s the difference?

In the business sorts of activities are all of the things that keep your business running today. They’re the things that either directly support or actually deliver your product or service to your customers. And they’re absolutely vital for keeping your business alive! Your business cannot even continue to exist if you don’t keep working in the business.

If you’re a solopreneur, that means by definition, that you’re doing all of the in the business activities yourself. If you have a small team, then perhaps you can delegate some or much of the in the business work.

If you run a pest control company some of your in the business activities might be:

By its very nature in the business work is vital, demanding, and often urgent.

So, what does it mean to work on the business? On the business are those higher-level activities that focus more on how you’re going to grow. They’re the less-defined things that require much more of your thought and strategic thinking. And they’re the activities that are critical for ensuring that your business doesn’t just barely survive, but is able to thrive and grow instead.

When you work on the business, you’re developing leadership, strategy for where your company needs to go next, setting goals, and identifying problems that are holding you back.

Again, if you run a pest control company, some of your on the business activities might be:

And by its very nature, on the business work tends to feel less urgent and more ambiguous.

Less urgent, more ambiguous, and therefore easier to put off until later… which is just another way of saying, it rarely gets done.

Why working on the business is so important

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.

So, if you’re okay with the status quo and don’t want to grow your business, then continuing to do what you have been doing might be fine.

But if you do want to grow, then change is going to be required. Because here’s the truth: the processes and strategies that got you to where you are today are not the same processes and strategies that will get you to where you want to go next. Or, more simply, “what got you here won’t get you there”.

Big and wonderful things rarely happen on accident. It’s true in life, and it’s true in business. We don’t generally drift to where we would have hoped to go.

The people who are most successful in business don’t get there by accident. They approach business with intentionality. They go to their next destination on purpose.

If you want to take your business to the next level, then you have to be intentional about working on the business, because all of those in the business activities are the things that are keeping your business running at the level you’re at today.

Why it has to be you

You may be wondering, “Can’t I have someone else do this?”

No. No you cannot. And here’s why.

You’re the owner and the leader. No one else cares about your business quite like you do.

And no one else has as much to gain or lose from your business as you do. If you have a team, they rely on your for a paycheck and a great job, but if your business doesn’t survive, they can go and get a paycheck from someone else.

This is your business, and your responsibility. Working on the business cannot be outsourced to someone else.

You don’t have time not to work on the business

I can already hear you thinking, “I don’t have time for this. I can barely keep up with everything now.” As a small business owner, I know, time is already a resource you don’t have enough of.

It doesn’t matter if you have a team or not, running a business is hard and demanding work. You’re exhausted and stretched thin. I get it.

But the stakes are too high for you to not make time to work on your business! The future of your company depends on it.

Things in your business won’t change if you don’t change. And you do, in fact, have agency - you get to choose how you spend your time. I know some days it feels like your business is running you instead of the other way around. But you own the business. It’s time to take back control.

On the business time is the biggest and best investment you can make toward growing your business, and if you don’t make time now, then when?

Now, I know this is a big hill to climb. It wouldn’t be wise to go run a marathon tomorrow if you haven’t been training for it. So, start small. You work up to a marathon, and the same is true of working on the business.

If you don’t know where to start, start here

If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! You can (and you should) start small! Making time to work on your business is super important, but you can’t do it all at once. The best thing you can do is get started.

So here’s my challenge to you - if you’re convinced that working in your business isn’t going to be enough to take you where you want to go next, then you’ve got to make a plan for some time to work on the business. Today.

I suggest that you start here:

  1. Block a 4-hour chunk of time on your calendar - personally, Fridays work really well for this type of work.
  2. Commit to defending the time and focusing deeply - put your phone on Do Not Disturb, tell your team you’ll be unavailable, do anything and everything you need to do so that you can focus.
  3. Work toward making this a weekly habit (and try to grow it to a full day).

What should on the business time look like? Well, remember that on the business time is really future-oriented and it’s about where you want to go next. Your business will either stay where it is today or shrink if you don’t have a plan to grow it.

So, allow yourself to set some lofty goals for growing your business.

Here are some questions to contemplate as you get started thinking:

Growing your business starts with you

As the leader and owner of your business, you are the ceiling on the potential of your business.

As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

You are your business’ biggest problem. And that is great news! Because it means that you can also be the solution.

If everything rises and falls on leadership, then you’ve got to start leading your business and yourself. Your business, your customers, your team, your family, your dreams… they all need you to lead boldly. And that all starts with making some time to work on your business.

So, what are you doing next Friday?

To thriving,


P.S. One last thought: working on the business does have to be done by you, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone! If you’ve got a trusted team member who is integral to running your business, consider inviting them into the process. Or seek out a mentor who can encourage you and share some wisdom as you work to grow your business. You can also work with a business coach; if you’d like to talk with me about a coaching relationship to help you work on your business and grow your profits, book a free call today.