Working On Your Business Vs In Your Business

Illustration demonstrating cashflow

I think anyone who has built their own business from nothing, has either thought about this concept or has some sort of idea of it. In this short blog post, I’m hoping to get you to experience a small paradigm shift in how you think about your business and how to prioritize tasks.

I get it, all of the great books, mentors, and consultants want you to think about your “why” and your company vision, culture, mission statement, etc. and these are definitely important things that you SHOULD do. However, dealing with a lot of small business owners and having gone through the super lean start-up phase myself, I can say one thing for sure. Who cares about your marketing strategy, branding, culture, etc. if you’re out of business because you’ve run out of cash and can’t pay the bills?

Working on your business is fun. I love looking at data, creating automated processes, working on presentations, refining my CRM, and the higher level strategy stuff. But if you’re running out of cash, you need to know when it’s time to work in your business and when to put the higher level stuff on the back burner.

In general, this is how I define working in your business versus on your business.

  • Working on your business: These are things that do not create immediate cash-flow but may help you improve the customer experience, smooth out or automate processes, enhance reporting, and so on. These are things that make you more efficient and contribute to your long-term goals.
  • Working in your business: These are things that either create immediate cash flow or add prospects to your sales cycle to generate cash in the near future.

As you can see, these are very simple concepts, but knowing when to jump into each one without feeling overwhelmed is the challenge. This is why staying organized and having some method of projecting cash-flow can help you steer the ship away from rocky shores. This can be done via a spreadsheet or your bookkeeping software.

Let’s dive deeper into some activities you can do based on your current position.

Working on your business:
You’ve got some cash flow and you’re ready to grow. Great, here are some examples of working on your business in order to achieve growth:

  • Create content that your target market will find valuable. This will also help you stand out as in authority in your industry and help with search engine optimization.
  • Create job posts and start recruiting for positions needed.
  • Start building a marketing strategy or hire a firm to help.
  • Spruce up your website with valuable resources and information for your prospects.
  • Automate mundane tasks in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
  • Clean up your transactions in your bookkeeping software to help you get a bigger picture of your business.
  • Create other reporting dashboards to monitor other important metrics.
  • Create your email marketing campaign.

Working in your business:
Uh oh, times are lean and you need to get mean! By mean, I mean having a bias towards taking immediate action and stop thinking. At this point, you need to dig deep to figure out what is going to get some cash flowing in asap. I’m assuming you already have some sort of business where you trade value for cash, either to consumers, businesses, or both. Here’s how you get some cash flowing in again.

  • Go through your customer relationship management (CRM) to touch base with all of your current or previous customers. When you touch base, see if there is anything you can do to bring them more value. Notice I didn’t say upsell.
  • While you’re at it, ask your customers for a referral. If you’ve delivered well, they’ll be happy to send you referrals.
  • Touch base with as many previous prospects as possible. Depending on the size of your database, you may need to set a daily goal of how many calls to make. Touch base, build some rapport and see what you can do to help inch them towards becoming a customer.
  • Networking is incredibly powerful. Either your local chamber of commerce, BNI, or whatever is going to give you plenty of opportunities to get in front of people that need your products or services. Just do a Google search for networking events near me, grab your business cards, dress nicely, and go!
  • Reach out to all of your friends and family and let them know what you’re doing and who a perfect referral would be for your business.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas, but it’s a mindset that has helped me overcome some of the tough times in the beginning. I challenge you to think about your strengths and resources and start leveraging them as much as possible.

Now get out there and grow!

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