Step 1 to get from working IN your business to working ON your business
There’s a great book out there: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It written by Michael E. Gerber. In 2011, The Wall Street Journal named it the #1 Business Book of All Time. I was lucky to have read it when I was very new in my business. I routinely recommend it for all new business owners and for anyone who is feeling stuck in their business.

In vs On

One of the best things Gerber points out is how we, as entrepreneurs, tend to go into business for ourselves because we either like or are good at something we do. No problem there, but what about the other jobs that are part of running business that we either don’t like or don’t know enough about? You and I know all about that. We jump in, and we do whatever needs to be done, unfortunately, not as well as we’d like a lot of the time. We work IN our businesses. We try harder, we work longer hours, and we give more than seems humanly possible at times. 

We hear about working ON our businesses and not IN them, but how? Well, don’t get too excited thinking I have an answer that is going to get you working 20-hour weeks this next month. But I can get you started on that path.  

I’m going to suggest that the most important thing to do is change your thinking, because if you change that, the rest will follow. Start with these 3 questions and they will prompt you to new ways of thinking. 

1) Is this the most important thing I should be doing right now?  

You need to ask this so you don’t find yourself doing things that don’t need to be done – by you. This is a real problem. You can find yourself cleaning a bathroom when you should be creating a Training Manual. There may be times when cleaning a bathroom really IS the most important thing you should be doing, but you won’t know that unless you ask the question. Ask it a lot and in a lot of different ways, such as “Would my role model be doing what I’m doing if he was in my shoes?” What are you thinking now? I guarantee it’s something better!  Now ask this:

2) Who can do what I’m doing so I can do something else? 

You need to ask this so you don’t get stuck thinking you’re the only one who can do what you’re doing. That’s not true. There are a LOT of people who could be doing exactly what you’re doing. Why aren’t they? Where are they? How can you get them to do it? Be creative when you’re answering your questions. Pay attention to what you come up with; you’re smarter than you think. Then ask this:

3) How can I make this work?

You need to ask this if for no other reason than to get yourself to STOP thinking how it won’t work. “What else can I do to make this work?” “What do other people do – and how can I make that work for me?” What can you come up with? Whatever it is, try it. You can always ask yourself all of these questions again and come up with new answers if something doesn’t work out, but keep asking!

What are you thinking now? I guarantee it’s something better! Start here and you will be on the path to those 20-hour weeks in no time!

Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a former ARCSI board member, a partner in Cleaning Business Builders, creator of the HiPEP employee development system and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.