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Working on Your Business From “The Bigger Picture” Perspective

Working on the business is much different than working in the business. Often times I will hear people say “I am working on my business” when in actuality they are only working in it. What’s the difference, you may ask? Good question. There is a big difference and you should be aware of it if you are a business owner!

Many years ago, when my company was still young and I didn’t have a large staff, I would plan an entire weekend in a fun hotel setting to take myself away from my daily setting and inspire me to think fresh. The view from my hotel window was important for inspiration; I wanted to choose somewhere that inspired me and made me breathe deeply. So, I would choose a location, and take a big box of the annual reports, sales graphs, and volumes of past historical data to the hotel with me to draw from. My suite was arranged with charts, reports, and a sea of post it notes tagging areas for review. It was hard work. At the time, the tactical part of me thought it seemed like an extravagance that could have been spent elsewhere since the company was so small. I am grateful I listened to the other part of my brain that said strategy would pay off much larger dividends if I pushed forward. It’s about taking yourself out of the picture and looking from the outside in; it’s about looking at the big picture.


Working in The Business has a main focus that is tactical. It is necessary and includes tasks required to run the business such as revenue producing, daily standard business operations, achieving results for customers, etc. Basically, it’s all of the nuts and bolts of keeping business moving as a whole.

Working on The Business is strategy. It builds value in the company. Reviewing the business plan, which is the basis of your strategy, works on proactive development to build and scale business utilizing goals and metrics. (If you don’t have a written business plan, take the time do it now!) Strategic planning is built around the information in the business plan. It’s all about working on the business through updating objectives, strategies, and action-plans that breath freshness and excitement into your business. Working on your business is where financials and business growth are strengthened. This is where you can consider targeted investment into training, fresh ideas about marketing, and new approaches to employee engagement. 

Enjoy-ifying Work

Working on your business is serious stuff, but it should also be exciting and fun. Start thinking about how you can reinvent your daily/weekly meetings and get your team excited about productivity and teamwork. A favorite for boots on the ground is a catered lunch then breaking into competitive relay teams to win cash prizes or extra PTO for safety and production competitions. Setting productivity goals or sales competitions can really bolster excitement at your workplace. Our management team competes for a variety of bonus incentives.

Meetings are necessary, but they should be interactive experiences, not stale news updates that make you yawn. It’s easy to get lost in the position of “being the boss” and to forget to look at work days from the perspective of the employee. Ask your employees what their biggest daily struggles are, what they enjoy about their job, and what would make them want to produce more or faster on their daily tasks? Then yourself what would encourage you if you were in their position? When you know what makes them tick and what makes them frustrated, you can really improve their experiences and satisfaction on the job. Think about things from their perspective.

Choose Your Inner Team Carefully

“Tough issues will be discussed, so pick a team that thinks differently than you. Push back is a good thing during brain storming.”

Janet South – President Deco Coatings

Implementing new processes or adjusting for improvements needs to be closely scrutinized and vetted. This is where you turn to what I call your “inner team” at your company. Your inner team should consist of the people that you trust the most. Choose people from different departments that oversee or excel at what they do. If you have a very small company, you may consider choosing people outside of your company to weigh in on their opinions as well. The goal is to choose trusted, targeted people that have a strong grasp or knowledge of your business/company. Having different perspectives is imperative. Making sure your inner team voice their opinion is important. It encourages a higher level of company loyalty and employee satisfaction of being valued.

Brand-ifying and Marketing

Today marketing and advertising is a whole new ballgame in the digital age. Website presence is even more important today than the yellow pages ever were. Digital optimization is such a part of a company’s foundation, that selecting the right digital partner is one of the most significant, critical, key decisions. It singlehandedly impacts several business development pieces of the business in a cascading effect. Be prepared to spend time, research, and discovery of who you will choose to handle your digital marketing needs. 

Digital marketing with person using a laptop computer

Take the time to write a scope of work for the key items you want.  Research and look at the digital marketing companies’ portfolios. Choose a company that specializes in your needs and who has a strong grasp of your industry. It took me quite some time to find the right company to partner with, and when I landed upon a great digital marketing company (who ended up designing/building our website and handling our digital media presence, they were located in a time zone with a 3-hour difference. Even though my meetings are done video and phone conference, I elected to include travel for face meetings;  sometimes bringing them to me is necessary for events or content creation. Looking back 4 years ago, it was one of my best company investments. It’s simply too much to do everything in-house unless you have a very large company that wants a built-in social media and marketing department.

Working on the business is hard work. It requires intentional determined commitment to set time aside to work on business big picture. And dream big when it comes to strategic planning; it is the future you are creating, after all.