By now you’ve probably heard the famous advice given to business owners: “Work on your business, not just in it.” That phrase gets plastered everywhere, but did you ever wonder exactly what you should be doing to work on your business?
If you've been acting more like a worker and less like a leader, these 5 activities can put you firmly back in the driver's seat of your small business.
Write out a detailed system for one recurring business process
Setting up the systems for your business so others can step in and, following your systems, run the business without your personal involvement. By putting most of your effort and mind share on the front end, you've reduced the need for you to be involved on the back end—engaged in carrying out that activity every day.
Review key performance indicators
Every business needs key performance indicators (KPIs). These are ways of quantifying what's important to your business, then measuring the results. By tracking and reviewing your company's KPIs, you won’t need to be as engaged in day-to-day business activities to know how things are going—the numbers will tell you. And while it’s still wise to be actively involved in the management of your business, you'll now have more time to look at the big picture and not worry so much about the details.
Research new technology
The smart use of technology can position your business to grow much faster at a lower cost. And best practices enable us to streamline our business processes. To use another adage, best practices help us “work smarter, not harder.”
Take a look at your existing IT infrastructure and your phone system. If they are out of date, you might need to explore an upgrade to boost productivity.
Connect with Customers
As a business grows, one of the things that frequently happens is that we get so caught up with everything we have to do, we may get out of touch with our customers.
Now you might say, “But we deal with customers every day!” But are you just handling a transaction? Or are you actually talking with them about their needs and how things are going? Do you understand what they want from you? Do you know how they feel about your company? Do you know if they would refer friends and colleagues to you?
Network with Peers
Working on your business, not just in it, means connecting with industry peers and prospective business partners. Networking can lead to business-altering relationships and opportunities that can spur your business to new heights.
An hour is enough time to meet someone for breakfast or lunch. It’s enough time to make some connections on Twitter or respond to connection requests on LinkedIn. It’s also enough time to write an email to someone you haven’t spoken with in a while and offer to meet up at that upcoming conference. Lots of networking can happen in one hour or less.
Because you spread these tasks throughout the month, you probably won’t even miss the 20 hours you'll take away from your regular business activities. But those 20 hours could pay off big by sparking increased efficiency; more consistent customer experiences, which will increase customer satisfaction; and escalating innovation, resulting in new products and services offerings, higher sales and, ultimately, more profitability.