Work on your business instead of in your business

Many small business owners would like to grow their business, but find that they don’t have the time or the resources to do so. While other small businesses find themselves growing—in some cases, out of control. Problems and dissatisfied clients can sometimes grow faster than the business itself. If either of these situations describes your business, it may be that you—the small business owner—are spending too much time working in your business, rather than on your business. 

The owner of the business is supposed to be the leader and visionary, but have you ever felt that you spend a majority of your time reactively dealing with the problems of the day? Or, perhaps you focus nearly all your attention on doing the work of your business, because nobody can do it better or faster than you? In both these situations, you may be spending too much time working in your business, rather than working on your business.

Of course, you are the best in handling problems and doing the work. You are also the most expensive person in your business, and you need to ask yourself whether everything that you're doing must be handled by your most expensive resource —because if everything needs to flow through you, you could potentially be a bottleneck to the growth of your business.

Freeing up the time and resources to work on your business is easier said than done. But here are some tips that can help:

Delegate. Focus more on what needs to be accomplished and less on how it's done. It may not be done the same way you would do it, and mistakes will be made. But coach your employees and they will improve. Even if you have to fix some mistakes from time to time, it may be better than doing all the work yourself.

Schedule time to work on your business. Reserve time in your schedule so you can work on what’s most important to your business—not what’s most urgent. This may be taking an in-depth look at your financials, your sales results, or competitive activity. Do you have a clear vision of where you want to take your business and how you plan to get there? Block out the time to create it, and then track the progress and make necessary revisions.

Work on systems, processes and procedures. Since you're the best at what you do, focus on designing processes and procedures that can be replicated, taught and measured to increase efficiency and quality.

Focus on the customer experience after a purchase. True relationships begin with the sale—they don’t end with the sale. By improving the experience, you can significantly increase customer satisfaction. Happier customers mean repeat business and more referrals.

Build your expert image. Work on developing your image and/or the image of your business as an expert in your field. This can be done by participating in social media, writing a blog, publishing a newsletter or working with local media and/or civic organizations. People like to do business with those considered to be the best in their field.

Owning and running a small business is one of the most demanding jobs. There is never enough time or resources to get everything done. Without even noticing, you may find that the business is actually running you, rather than the other way around. Making sure that you're actively working on your business, as well as in your business, can result in growth with happier clients and employees. 

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