Updated: Feb 15
Are there times when you feel you are working 24 hours a day in your business but do not believe you are getting what needs to get accomplished? Do you, at times, feel overwhelmed? If this is the case, you are most likely experiencing what most small business owners have experienced at some point with their businesses. This experience is usually a symptom of working too much "in" your business versus "on" your business.
It is not uncommon to have worked to grow your business to a specific size but then finds it has become stagnated. You then find it difficult to jump to the next level of growth. If you are trying to figure out if this might be you, below are a few characteristics to determine whether you are working "in" versus "on" your business. This list is not all-inclusive, but it will help you assess yourself.
You plan your business spending around what is in your bank account when you look online.
You wonder whom you will pay each week based on the money in your account. Cheques are written to suppliers, but you do not send them out to make your accounting reports "look balanced."
You close sales without considering whether you will make money on them.
Develop an annual budget and spend money based on what has been budgeted.
You review accounting reports and handle your finances monthly:
Collecting A/R on time
Plan any additional spending based on business needs & free cash flow generated by the business.
3. You calculate the return on sales before accepting the order.
The business relies solely on you being in business all the time. Employees are micro-managed and do work based on what you tell them. You do not take vacations as you feel the business will not survive without you. (You are the business.)
Employees are hired without a proper hiring process, and there is the hope that they will just work out. Employees do not have job descriptions and objectives and do not receive performance reviews. Employees are assigned job tasks based on who is available without considering the individual's skills.
There are managers who manage the business daily, and you are there to oversee and provide business direction. The business runs smoothly when you are on vacation, and there is no need for anyone to contact you except in an emergency.
Employees understand their job and what is expected of them. You know the skill sets required to run and grow the business and hire accordingly. Employees are provided performance reviews on a quarterly or annual basis, where they receive constructive feedback.
You are always looking for the elusive "Hail Mary" sale.
You tend to manage one sale at a time.
You typically feel that you can no trust sales reps, so all sales must be made by yourself or those in the company without sales experience. You might hire salespeople without understanding their credentials and expect them to know what to do on day one because they are in "sales."
You will take any sales and hope you made money.
The business is managed based on forecasted sales.
There is an understanding of your target market and target prospects. Leads are tracked and managed in a CRM.
You hire only professional sales personnel through a defined HR process. You train them on the products and business. Achievable KPIs and quotas are set and tracked, and there is proper sales management.
A defined sales process is set and followed. Products are sold based on customer need and value versus price. Pricing and required margins are set, and you are willing to walk away from a sale if you do not make money.
You believe marketing sounds very expensive and do not trust it.
You spend money on marketing without any plan. You are not aware if the type of marketing you have spent money on is appropriate for your industry or business. You have never tracked whether you receive a return on your investment.
You have developed proper branding and messaging for your business, products, and services. You know your target market and what marketing mediums are appropriate for them.
You have a marketing plan and budget that you develop every year for your marketing based on the forecast you have set for your business. You measure each marketing campaign or spend to determine whether you have generated leads or awareness and received a return on your investment.
You look at your shelf and determine if you think you need to reorder inventory.
Employees are being kept around "just in case" even know you are not busy and they are not being utilized.
Customer issues are only dealt with as they happen.
There are not proper processes and systems in place to manage the business.
Inventory levels are tracked in an accounting system, and do inventory counts regularly.
Workload and productivity planning are in place to ensure efficiency in your business.
There are high customer retention and satisfaction rates as you monitor customer satisfaction through surveys regularly.
Investment has been made in developing processes and applications to track and help manage the business.
If reading this, you find you are currently working more "in your business" versus "on your business, you can turn this around. In some cases, it will take letting go of some of the power you perceive and delegating to others which means you need honest and capable employees.
You might have to employ a different mindset, which is sometimes hard but will be key to your success. As a business owner, you need to focus on the top-line revenue, margin and expenses and ensure that you have the right people, processes, and systems to help you manage this and make the right decisions. The day-to-day running of the business needs to be delegated to your employees.