How to Work “On” Your Business Instead of “In” It

automation and delegation

It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day running of your business that you don’t have time to step back and look at the big picture. This is a huge problem. What made your startup successful in the early days won’t necessarily drive your future growth. For your business to survive and thrive, you need to keep thinking of new ways to innovate.

The problem most business owners have is that they get caught up in doing everything themselves. Many people think this DIY approach helps them save money. However, this approach has side effects that can be far more costly than the fees charged by professional service providers. By trying to do everything yourself, you can end up spending too much time doing things that aren’t strategically vital to your business. As a result, your company may fail to grow and thrive in the long run.

According to The New York Times, owners who can’t get out of their own way are one of the biggest causes of business failure. They’ve never learned how to do less, better. They make the same mistakes over and over, dooming their businesses to perpetual struggle.

How to Break Out of a Damaging Cycle

To save your business, first identify your role as the owner. Here’s a hint: Your job is not to do every menial task yourself. Instead, your responsibility is to focus on strategy and innovation.

Here are two techniques that can help you pull off the transformation your business needs. If you can find some time to put these two tips into action, you give yourself the opportunity to take your business in new and exciting directions.

1. Set Up Processes

Before you can take a step back and focus on strategy, you need to ensure your business can keep running on a day-to-day basis without your input. You need to put standard processes in place that your employees can follow even when you aren’t around to give approval to decisions or advise them on what to do. Make your processes operational, so that the person or team of people you pass them on to have a clear system to follow to complete each task.

Some processes can be automated to require little or even no human input. Look for aspects of your business that involve repetitive, mindless tasks. These may include posting content to several different sites, sending out emails to segmented mailing lists or processing orders. You may even be able to find software that can perform these tasks for you, freeing up your time and the time of your core team of employees so you can work together on your shared vision. Automation can also reduce the number of errors that occur, which means you spend less time repeating earlier work or dealing with the fallout when things go badly wrong.

2. Hire a Dream Team

Great teams build great companies. No matter how capable you are as an entrepreneur, no matter how groundbreaking your idea, you need talented and enthusiastic people around you to make your startup a success. Therefore, building a dream team should be your top priority when trying to create some space for yourself to examine your company’s direction.

The key to letting go of day-to-day micromanagement is having people you can rely on to keep the business running smoothly. You need people who can deal with challenging situations without much direction from you. Try to hire people who take initiative and can deal with the details of their daily duties without needing constant attention and supervision.

When hiring, look for candidates who think like innovators: Harvard Business Review lists this kind of employee as a top requirement for an innovative company. A team made up of people like this can provide the support you need to create a truly groundbreaking business. They may be able to help you spot business processes that can be automated and even take steps to put that automation in place, enabling you to step back and consider the overall business strategy.

Your First Steps to Stepping Back

Now that you know what you need to do to work on your business instead of in it, it’s time to take action. Begin by identifying the areas of your business that can be automated. These might include some of your marketing processes, such as lead tracking. Many of your social media processes can also be automated, such as posting content to your social media accounts immediately after it goes up on your blog or website.

You should also consider outsourcing some of your business processes to services that can make them happen automatically. Services exist that can create content to drive traffic to your website or take over certain aspects of your website management. Taking advantages of these services can give you the free time you need to take a step back and work out where your business needs to go.

Don’t fall into the trap of working in your business rather than on it. As the leader, you need to free yourself from the daily grind and fulfill your role: determining the overall strategy of your business.


To learn more about what you should and shouldn’t be doing for your business, download our free Maintain Your Balance Whitepaper