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Work on the business, not in it

standing on business

The phrase “work on the business, not in it” comes from Michael E. Gerber’s book, “The E-Myth Revisited.” Its core message revolves around the idea that there’s a difference between an entrepreneur and a technician or worker within the business.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Working in the business:
    • This refers to handling the day-to-day operations and tasks that keep the business running. Examples include serving customers, managing inventory, handling daily administrative tasks, etc.
    • Business owners who constantly work “in” their business often find themselves overwhelmed with routine tasks, limiting their ability to grow or scale their business. They might feel like they’ve created a job for themselves rather than a scalable business.
  2. Working on the business:
    • This involves stepping back and focusing on strategic growth, planning, and business systematising.
    • Tasks include creating standard operating procedures, developing marketing strategies, analysing the competition, seeking growth opportunities, and more.
    • Working “on” the business ensures it can operate and grow without entirely depending on the owner’s daily input.

The key benefits of working “on” the business rather than “in” are:

  1.  Scalability: By focusing on systems, processes, and strategy, the business can be positioned for growth. A well-structured enterprise can accommodate an increase in demand without proportional increases in effort or resources.
  2. Enhanced efficiency: Establishing processes and systems can lead to streamlined operations, minimising waste and redundancy.
  3. Greater profitability: Efficiency often leads to cost savings, and strategic planning can increase revenue opportunities. Both can enhance the bottom line.
  4. Value creation: A business operating without being entirely dependent on its owner is more valuable.
  5. Innovation: By stepping back from daily operations, owners can gain a clearer perspective, allowing them to innovate, identify new opportunities, or pivot if necessary.
  6. Improved work-life balance: Owners can better balance their personal and professional lives when not tied to daily operational tasks.
  7. Empowerment of employees: Delegating responsibilities can empower employees, making them more engaged, fostering leadership skills, and improving job satisfaction.
  8. Risk management: Owners can implement contingency plans by working on the business, ensuring the company can handle unforeseen events or challenges.
  9. Flexibility: Owners gain the flexibility to take time off, knowing that the business can run smoothly in their absence.
  10. Long-term vision: It allows business owners to focus on long-term goals and visions rather than getting caught up in immediate challenges or daily crises.
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