The importance of working ON your business and not IN it

By Chris Hardy
Chris Hardy

How much time each week do you spend working ON your business, rather than IN it?

On the 23rd May in The Refectory, Forward Space, Frome I’ll be sharing ways to work effectively ON your business to reduce stress and boost productivity.

To book or find out more info go here.

Sam (not his real name) originally came to me because he felt overwhelmed and anxious. Running his social enterprise was high stress.

Despite feeling 100% aligned with the overall vision of his organisation (the regeneration of the urban landscape and the greening of the UK’s cities) his day to day work had become wrought with anxiety, deadlines and tension.

One of the first questions I asked him was this:

“How much time, each week, do you spend working on your business?”

He looked at me blankly.

“What do you mean? What’s the difference.”

I took that as ZERO hours.

Working ON your business is fundamental to lowering your levels of stress, being more effective and utilising your energy more effectively.

Working ON your business means doing things like:
- reflecting on your long-term vision and evaluating current alignment with it
- planning your daily actions and taks for a few minutes in the morning
- reflecting on HOW you and your team are working together
- reviewing key working practices and evaluating best practice
- prioritising what needs to happen, who will do it and by when
- observing personal or organisational habits and self-limiting assumptions

As you can begin to see, this stuff is pretty important for long term success.

If this feels like a bunch of new work then consider this. Sam began to spend two hours every Monday morning working ON his business.

This is what he did:
worked through a self-reflective task sheet that I gave him
planned out the most important actions for the coming week
reviewed last week and spotted any behaviours he’d like to cease
communicated the priorities to his team and connected with them individually

Within weeks his work has transformed. Not only had his work become far more effective and impactful, he was feeling more happy, much less anxious and a lot more excited and pumped about getting into work and creating his vision.

Kahil Gibran says that:

“Work is love made visible.”

Most of us have chosen our work because, at some point, we were excited by it. We loved what it meant to us, what an important thing it was to bring into the world. We were in love with our work.

We nearly lived Gibran’s famoust line.

And then we became lost amonst the admin, processes, data entry, endless emailing and chasing of clients.

Whether that’s adventure weekends in the Cotswolds, delivering mindfulness training seminars to top CEOs, a glamping site in the hills of east Devon, an adventurous tech Startup based in Hackney aiming to eliminate street based racism, or an artist living in the hilles near Dolston with a passion for landscape painting in a new and innovative way…

We can all benefit from working ON our businesses.

Here is three simple ways you can start with this immediatley:

1. Reflect on your effectiveness at the end of each day.

Create a space in your journal or in a folder or in a word doc. that will enable you to capture your key reflections from today’s work.

You could ask this question:

In what ways was I effective and did I enjoy working today?

How will I improve my way of working tomorrow?

2. Create a weekly document for self-coaching or reflective thinking:

If you’re serious about this one ask me and I’ll send you over a couple of tempaltes that I use myself and with my clients. It’s this self-coaching work that I encouraged Sam to start with immediately.

3. Plan in montly 1/2 days to evaluate and plan.

Use these as an opportunity to work ON your business; no emailing, no responding to anything.

This works even if you’re one man / woman business.

And if you want to dive even deeper joing me on the 23rd May from 4–6pm in The Refectory in Frome for a small group workshop.