Are You Working ON the Business or IN the Business

salesMany businesses fail, especially Solopreneurs, because people are too busy working IN the business rather than ON the business. In fact many don’t even understand the difference between the two.

There are many different definitions of working IN the business and working ON the business and I want to share with you my definitions as I think these will help you understand the important differences between them.

Working IN the business is performing those activities which maintain the status quo, they produce the products that you are looking to sell, they are the administrative tasks you need to keep the business running, such as legal, accounting, customer support etc.

Working ON the business is performing those activities which grow your business, i.e. grow your revenue, such as sales, marketing, networking, strategising, new product development, etc.

If we are only ever working IN the business, then we are not going to increase our revenue, which for a start up is a bad situation to be in, no revenue, no company. Working IN the business is important, but it will not help us achieve the new goals we set.

I say that because our goals are rarely to maintain the status quo.

We all set goals which are to expand our businesses, either in terms of revenue, products, or to go from local to national, or from national to global etc.

To do that then we need to be working ON the business, because thats how we get our companies to grow.

As a solopreneur, or entrepreneurs, we need to be spending a minimum 50% of our time working ON the business, and we need to make sure that is part of our focus.

For many of us, we go into business as experts or technicians rather than as entrepreneurs, so our comfort zone is more working IN the business.

But we need to get out of our comfort zone and ensure that the business growth activities are taken care of, because if we don’t we will never be successful.

If you really don’t like doing sales and marketing there are alternatives, although not doing them is not one of them! You can always take on resources, or outsource that work. If it’s truly not your strength, then find someone who can do it for you.

One of the challenges is that we can always find good technicians, but finding good sales staff is difficult, and if you look to do it cheaply you will not get the quality of service that you are looking for. Good sales staff are always in demand.

You may have to pay a hefty commission fee to good sales people, but even if you pay 30% in commission, at least you will have 70% and 70% of something rather than 100% of nothing.

We must ensure that 50% of the activities performed within our businesses, especially in the early stages, are focused on growth, and I would strongly recommend people that they should measure how much time is spent on tasks and to monitor the total effort spent IN the business and ON the business.

When under pressure many of us revert to do what we feel comfortable doing.

This means we gravitate to the IN the business topics. So we need to have transparency into where we are spending our time so we can ensure that we focus 50% of our efforts ON the business, and when we do that we put ourselves and our businesses in the best position to achieve the goals and targets that we have set.

So how much of your time is spent working ON the business, if you don’t know, its definitely not enough!

If you’d like to know more about FAST for Entrepreneurs please email me at