6 Ways to Work ON Your Business, not IN it

Too often, we all get bogged down with the daily tasks, interruptions, emergencies, and fires that need put out in your working lives. This not only saps our energy, but makes us less productive and less effective in the long run. Here are six ways to take back some of that lost time and energy and start achieving the growth your business needs.

Here are 6 ways to work on your business, as opposed to in it.

1. Take some time to plan.

working on your business

Author Brian Tracy has said “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”. I believe he is absolutely correct. When you have a plan for the day, week, and month, it's much easier to stay on task. You will spend less time working on unimportant tasks, and you won't have a problem with forgetting to do things or scrambling to get them done at the last minute.

2. Dedicate time to targeted prospecting.

How often do sales people and business owners use the "shotgun" approach to their prospecting efforts? The shotgun approach is akin to throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Sure, you'll pick up clients that way, but they may not be the ones you want. Effective businesses use the "sniper rifle" approach. They are very targeted in their efforts, and enjoy a higher closing ratio as a result. Not only will they have a higher closing ratio, but they will gain a higher percentage of the "right" clientele.

By focusing your efforts on the few best types of clients, you can increase your effectiveness exponentially. Is there a certain profession that gives you more referrals than others? Try to meet more of them. Think of your best customers, and determine what makes them great. Then, look for more customers just like them. As goes the 80/20 rule: 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients.

3. Attend networking events.

I am a big fan of this one. Networking is a very effective way to grow your business. Join local organizations, attend mixers, get to know people. The vast majority of my business comes from the world's largest, and most successful business networking organization, BNI.

4. Hire a business coach.

A business coach is an under-utilized tool for many business owners. They can help you focus in on what you are doing well and what you can do better in your business. A coach can help you step outside the daily hustle and bustle and examine your business from a strategic standpoint, and become more focused in your activities. As Maria Stevens of Stevens Coaching and Consulting puts it: "Tactical is taking orders. Strategic is the big picture. Be strategic."

5. Sharpen the saw.

This phrase comes from Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the book, Covey recounts the woodcutter story:

A man was struggling in the woods to saw down a tree. An old farmer came by, watched for a while, then quietly said, “What are you doing?”
“Can’t you see?” the man impatiently replied, “I’m sawing down this tree.”
“You look exhausted,” said the farmer. “How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours, and I’m beat,” replied the man. “This is hard work.”
“That saw looks pretty dull,” said the farmer. “Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen it? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

Learning doesn't end when you graduate high school or college. You need to continue to learn the rest of your life. Just a little each day can go a long way. Read one of the many great business books out there, subscribe to a blog or a magazine in your industry. Talk to successful professionals in your field and learn what they do that made them successful. Every little bit you learn can help you grow yourself and your business.

6. Say "Thank you".

Some may think this speaks for itself, but don't underestimate the power of a thank you. Call the person that gave you that great referral and thank them. Send a thank you card to everyone you do business with. Drop off a calendar or some other branded item for as a Christmas gift to your clients. It may not seem like much, and indeed, it doesn't take much time, but a little kindness goes a long way.

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