Understanding the Paradigm of Working On The Business Versus In The Business

Today, I’ll be focusing on AMA (Ask Me Anything), specifically answering a question about the difference between working on the business versus working in the business.

The Dichotomy of Working In and On the Business

The question for today’s AMA comes from Paul. He writes, “I often hear about working on the business versus in the business. What does that mean to you, and can you give me some examples of what that looks like?”

Let’s begin by clarifying that working in the business refers to operational tasks that directly impact the bottom line. Tasks such as taking orders, fulfilling orders, reporting on lead times, and processing returns fall under this category.

On the other hand, working on the business involves strategic initiatives that aim to strengthen the business long-term. These could range from process improvements, new partnerships, to development relationships that bring new capability or capacity.

Deciding What to Strengthen – An Art and a Science

Deciding what aspects of the business to reinforce is precisely where art meets science. There is a multitude of potential initiatives to undertake, but understanding the root cause of problems and drawing a connection between cause and effect is crucial to improvement.

On numerous occasions, I have observed companies fail to get expected results despite investing in software solutions. This usually happens when there is a mismatch in the company’s internal process and the software’s implied process. Therefore, scrutinizing the internal systems’ performance gaps is essential for effective process improvement.

Ownership of Business Processes – A Game Changer

Another pitfall I’ve seen is a lack of ownership for some of the key business processes. Shared responsibilities often result in nobody truly owning the process, leading to failure. Conversely, having defined roles and responsibilities can significantly enhance business processes efficiency.

Working In and On the Business in Our Context

An example from our organization concerns our marketing systems. We approach marketing as a process of generating interest, not sales or advertising. A large percentage of our new clients and investors build a relationship with us as a result of our podcast.

In an effort to reach more people interested in investing in real estate, we decided to multiply our podcast’s listening audience. We are currently working on enhancing social media outreach, optimizing our website, and improving our podcast episode titles for better visibility.

We are also creating more derivative content from our show and turning the scripts of our solo episodes into articles for real estate investors. This strategic initiative is a prime example of working on the business versus working in the business.

Checklist for Working On the Business
Process improvements with a focus on root cause analysis
Forming new partnerships and business development relationships
Automation of routine tasks
Specific ownership of business processes
Strategic marketing initiatives

Thank you Paul for such a great question. Remember, shifting between working on the business and in the business can lead to sustainable growth and process efficiency.

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