Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Be Sure You're Working ON Your Business, Not IN It

Many of the people who start small businesses fall into the "getting ready to get started" trap. They end up working in their businesses instead of on their businesses. Perhaps you've fallen into this trap. You re-arrange your desk. You clean up your files. You reposition the phone, the computer and the printer. You rearrange the furniture in your office. You sharpen all your pencils--three times. And then you go through this routine, with modifications, again, and sometimes again. And if someone asks what you're doing you say, "I'm getting ready to get started," or words to that effect. Many (maybe most) people go through this stage when they start a business, and it's a challenge that you must resist. If you're still getting ready to get started the second week into your business, you're probably never going to get started.

Even experienced business owners occasionally fall into the trap of working in their businesses when they need to be working on their businesses. . . . No matter how long you've been in business, and regardless of the achievements you may have enjoyed in the past, you always have to look out for this trap.

Here's a test that can help you determine whether you're working on your business or in your business. Stop whatever you're doing and ask yourself these questions:
Is what I'm doing now directly related to achieving one of my goals?
Will what I'm doing now help me build my business?
Will what I'm doing now result in a sale?
Will what I'm doing now improve one of my skills?
Could someone else do what I'm doing better or just as well?
Am I reinventing the wheel?
Could I wait and do this during non-business hours?
Be honest when you answer these questions. You can try to justify rearranging your office by claiming that doing so will improve your productivity. But can you justify rearranging your office during your normal business hours? Not if you answer honestly. . . . Whatever you're doing, if you're doing it during business hours and it will not lead to the fulfilment of a goal or result in building your business (such as by making a sale), you're most likely working in your business and not on it. Don't get caught in that trap.

I thank the contribution from Saurabh Shukla


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