Work ON Your Business, Not IN Your Business


I took a business course years ago, and one thing that stuck with me is he talked about Working ON Your Business not just IN Your business.  

As a solopreneur, it’s so easy to get sucked into the day-to-day activities of your business. You’re constantly hustling to get everything done in the mere 24 hours in the day. 

If only we didn’t need sleep.

But you sometimes have to pull back and look at what’s going on in your business from a high level. To see what’s working and what’s not. Then make adjustments where you need to. When you’re too deep in it, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees as they say.

I know what you might be thinking. I have so much to do every day I don’t have time to stop and analyze. If I do that I’ll get behind on Tweeting and Pinning and Instagramming (oh my).

Well, you can’t afford not to. What if what you’re spending all your time doing isn’t that effective. You’re so deep in the trenches of doing the tasks you aren’t even noticing they aren’t effective. You could be missing out on traffic, sales, and opportunities. You owe it to yourself and your business to take that time, put your CEO hat on, and look at your data.

The first thing you need to analyze in your business is your key performance indicators. Your key performance indicators (KPI’s) are those things you measure that indicate your success as a business. As an author/blogger that has a lot to do with social follows, email sign ups, traffic, sales. You get where I’m going.

If you don’t have those metrics, or if they’re in your head and not on paper in the form of a business plan (hint hint you should have one if you’re serious about making a living at this) then that’s your step one. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve with your writing. 

You also want to break those metrics down. If your 5-year plan is to make a million dollars, then break it down to what that looks like this month and next (and so on). You also need to know what actions will get you to your intended results and how those actions translate into dollars. 

For example: 

  • Does spending an hour a day on Twitter gain you anything that directly relates back to your revenue goal?
  • What blog posts give you the best ROI on email sign ups?
  • What book ad service gives you the best bump for your money?

See where I’m going with this?

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I look at my business once a week (usually Saturday or Sunday) and analyze the previous week. I can look for trends and get an understanding of why things are happening (or not). It doesn’t take me long to look up the data and then I usually spend about an hour analyzing the numbers and making a determination of some sort. This information then allows me to better plan what I need to do going forward.

I will caution you about not making reactions to data too quickly. You often need to give certain promotions a little time to see if they’re working. They might need to gain traction. There’s no rule for how long you should let something ride out before you determine it a dud and only you can determine what means success to you. We all have different goals so comparing your stats to someone else isn’t a good idea.

I am a firm believer in slow, incremental goals is the most effective long-term. I love this article on the aggregation of marginal gains. I recommend you read it. If you don’t feel like it the short version is about the British cycling team and how no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. The coach vowed to change that.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They won it in 3 short years.

You too can win by finding those small incremental gains. But not if you don’t look at your business to find out where those gains can be gotten.

So what are you waiting for?

Put on your calendar today a time when you will work ON your business and make it a new habit.

 

I'm ready to be a published author!

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— laina

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9 thoughts on “Work ON Your Business, Not IN Your Business

  1. Last month I decided to actually start writing down my goals for the month and it made such a big difference. I managed to achieve so many of the things on the list because it motivated me to push towards them.

  2. Great post. This brought me.back to my grad school days. And yet I don’t spend enough time analyzing my business. I get too sucked into the doing part that I forget to stop and measure how all that “doing” is impacting my business. Thanks for this reminder

  3. Guilty, I blog over at Ladies Make Money online and I find myself doing other things rather than working in the business. I need to manage this better. I typically spend the morning, doing emails, marketing and then the afternoon working. So it seems to work! I think 🙂