6 Ways To Practically Work ON Your Business

Nov 15, 2016, Written by Sue Miley


I look back over the last month in my calendar and I see hour after hour filled with appointments.  I am a business coach and counselor, so I want appointments, right?  Yes, but that is me working IN my business.

The operational role I hold in my business is coaching and counseling.  Just like an architect working in his or her business would look like drawing plans, and a surgeon, performing surgery.  We get this.  When you own your own business… you have to do the work.

However, there is a vital component to creating, growing and sustaining your own business.  This is the part where we work ON our business.  I have written about this before, but it still comes up quite often in my work with other small business owners.

What Does “Working On Your Business” Mean?

I think first we have to define what working on your business looks like in the small business world.  This isn’t a dictionary definition, these are my words based on the experience I’ve gained from working on my own business and helping other do the same.

Working your business is:

  1. Developing your vision and mission – This means making sure that your business is well-defined, and that everyone knows why you are doing what you do and where you are going as a business.  Communicating this to staff, vendors and customers is working on your business.
  2. Creating strategies and plans to develop and grow your business– If we set up our business and start operating without a plan or strategy, our business will typically stagnate quickly.  Ongoing planning is an integral part of working on your business to make sure you are moving toward your vision and goals.
  3. Building your team– Being the leader in creating a culture and core values for your company is the first step in building a strong team.  If you simply hire people to fill spots, you end up with a culture that doesn’t necessarily match your vision and mission.  It is vital that you as the owner truly work on what you want your organization to look like in character and skill.  You must plan for an organization that can support and execute your long-term vision.  If not, you will most likely never get there.
  4. Implementing systems and processes – You don’t have to be the one who actually creates or implements each system or process.  Your job as the owner working on the business is to set the initiatives and to approve the funding when necessary to ensure that the company is building a strong foundation, one which will support growth.  Processes are usually not fun and if the owner doesn’t support it, it is hard to get buy-in from the team.  But remember, most companies get stuck when they grow past their systems and processes.  Quality breaks down, deadlines are missed, and the team is overworked.
  5. Crafting your brand– In order to build a strong brand you must have a compelling point of difference and you must communicate your point of difference and brand messages consistently.  Without differentiation, continued growth will not occur.  And in most industries, lack of differentiation requires the lowest price strategy which continues to impact quality growth.
  6. Producing sales strategies for business growth – Some owners are the actual sales people for their company.  It may be how you work IN your business.  But, whether you are directly out knocking on doors, or you have a sales team in place, creating strategies and plans for increasing revenues is working ON your business.

When our business is still small, working ON the business may require hands-on labor within the various areas above.  Later, when you have a leadership team in place, your role may be more in the planning and strategy portion of working ON the business.

How Much Time Should I Devote to Working ON My Business?

But, in general, these are all key areas of business development and growth that need time and attention.  “How much time?” is a question I often get asked.

I have always worked on the assumptions that 25-30% of the owner’s time needs to be spent working ON the business.  Until you are large enough to have an outside President or CEO, you are the person that must lead the organization where it is going.

Review this list and think back over the past month.  How much time did you spend working ON your business?  Do you have a solid, strong vision and mission with plans and strategies to execute against?

As we approach the end of the year, this is a great time to spend planning and setting the goals and objectives for the coming new year.  If working on your business is not a habit in place, we can help.  We can work with you in these areas and help integrate working ON your business into your regular work routine.  Let us know if we can help by emailing us at [email protected] or calling 225-341-4147.


When Crossroads Professional Services was officially launched ten years ago, the mission was to help others find Christ’s plan for their lives and business.  The mission for the Crossroads Professional Coaching part of our business fits under the over-arching mission; it is to help Christian business owners build successful businesses based on a foundation of their Christian values.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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