Four Ways You’ll Thrive - Working on Your Business

On Your BusinessI have a long term client who, several years into our consulting relationship, confessed there had been a period of time when she didn’t follow my direction. I had sensed a lack of action on her part, but it never occurred to me that she didn’t value what I said or the work we were doing. We had navigated some treacherous waters (debt reduction, termed out line of credit, renegotiation of the business lease, staffing issues) so I was a bit surprised by her full frontal confession. It turns out she had begun following my advice when things got tough and she “needed” my help, but in general she hadn’t valued my overall commitment to her success. One day it occurred to her that if she was going to stay afloat she needed to step into action. I recently asked her what were the results of her shift to stepping into action and working “on her business” and this is what she had to say; “What you showed me was awesome and once I started accepting your guidance I got amazing results! We were losing money and now we’re making money, we had a lot of debt and now we have no debt, cash flow is positive month after month, I take home enough money, I feel proud of my business, and I am way less stressed out.”

Here are four ways you can thrive:

1. Don’t Wait For Sink or Swim to Take Action

There are times when I am approached by a business and their story makes me want to turn and run out of the room. They have gotten themselves into a pickle, often financial, and having done everything they knew how to do or having put their head in the sand hoping the bad times would pass, they now realize they need to reach out for help. This is probably the worst time to get help because you feel pinched financially, you’re tired, and desperate. I tell clients you only know what you know and if you had known how to fix the problem, you would have done so. This is my message to you: Get real with your limitations and don’t wait until it is as bad as it can get. The minute you know you are in trouble, put on your thinking cap, get over feeling like a failure and reach out for help. Send out the SOS and put your energy into solving the problem with expert guidance.

2. Leap Into Action and Move Towards Your Goals

I asked the client whose story I told above, “What motivated you to begin seriously working “on” your business?” She said she felt like she had no choice; she knew if the business was going to survive, she was required to step up and take ownership of the problems that needed to be solved. That’s when she plugged into our list of action items, and made the commitment to do the work. She had been building these take action muscles all along and the shift was rather seamless when she moved from doing nothing to doing what needed to be done. If you are starting fresh with a coach, consultant or expert, it is going to take some time to get traction, so build that into your action plan.

3. Let Go Of Always Working “In the Business”

I know you have heard talk of “working in your business” versus “working on your business.” My single most important piece of advice is the sooner you learn how to move from “in” to “on”, the faster your business will gain traction. I know many of you “are your business” and you tell me “I just don’t have the time, the energy, or the money to work on my business because if I am not in the business, nothing is happening!” This is a misnomer I take issue with whether you are a solopreneur or a business with staff. If you are spending all your time “in” the business, you are not creating a pipeline to fill the void when what is currently before you ends/departs, you are not managing your business finances, and you are not doing the myriad of tasks required to grow and support a healthy business. Working “on” the business looks like marketing, sales, human resources, training, networking, follow up calls, financial recording and reporting, keeping yourself and your office organized, identifying the problems before they become problems, and most importantly, viewing your business from the top down rather than from in the trenches. I know not everyone is blessed with this innate ability, if this doesn’t come easy to you, get help from a colleague, friend, or expert who has the gift of bird’s eye view.

4. Great Ideas are Great For a Reason

When you engage a paid consultant/coach/expert I recommend you be in a place where you are fully prepared to get out of your own way and let that person have sway. You are the expert at your craft and I am an expert at mine. I seek you out because your expertise offers me a solution to whatever problem I am having, whether it be bodywork to ease my physical pain, selling me a car to solve my transportation problem, or helping me with my QuickBooks so I can stay financially fit. When you let the expert assist you, not only is it a good use of your resources, but if you follow the steps they lay out, change will happen. We all have great ideas on behalf of our clients, that’s what creates a good business, so it is for us to remember that the expert’s ideas are most often worthy of what we have invested.