A classic business distinction that so often gets forgotten is; Do you spend time working ON your business – or do you only spend time working IN it?
This distinction applies to many different business’ but nowhere is it more important than in the day to day operations of a startup. The challenges of starting up are well documented, under-resourced and overworked founders can barely keep up with the day to day operations of their startup let alone think about removing themselves from paying bills, invoicing, repying to needy suppliers and contractors – the list goes on, it always will.
One thing that we encourage our startup community to do is to actively pursue time working ON the business. This means (hold your breath and make sure you’re sitting down!) that you may just need to leave that one phone call go to voicemail, and there may be an email in your inbox that has to wait ’til tomorrow.
The reason this is so important is that a founder must ensure that their business stays true to its strategy, maintains the innovation that made it possible to found in the first place and is given room to grow in to uncharted territory and continue on a growth trajectory. These things are simply too “Top-Line” to consider when trying to push invoices out.
So in the spirit of maintaining the elements that made your business special in the first place, here’s 3 tips on taking some time to work ON your business:
Time is precious, if you’re not good with a calendar – get good. Book yourself in for a regular time, perhaps an hour on a Friday morning every two weeks to dedicate some time to working ON your business. Stick to it, it’s in the calendar, don’t move it, postponing a client meeting by 1-2 hours won’t break a business, losing touch with your foundation strategy has the potential to.
Sitting in front of your computer screen watching emails come in and then trying not to reply to them is impossible, so don’t do it. Find a favourite cafe (no wi-fi necessary) and take some time to THINK away from your usual setting.
There is no point working ON your business if you’re not going to acknowledge some of the harder issues to tackle. If you’re one to avoid the hard issues then there is no point going through this process. Got a staffer who’s not living up to their potential but you can’t pay attention to it during your daily activities? Now is the time to broach this subject (in your mind in the first instance) – run through the possibilities available to you, reflect on what will be the best way out of the situation and then put together an action plan that you will put in to place as soon as you get back to your desk and get back to work IN your business. Don’t avoid the hard issues, they will never just go away and like a rotting banana in the bottom of your school bag at school, a rotting problem in your business won’t go away until you acknowledge it’s there and do something about it.
Tom Kinsman is the business director of Beacon New Ventures, a new model marketing & venture capital partner currently expanding its footprint in the Asia Pacific region. With an office based in Singapore and another in Melbourne Australia, the business has a broad client portfolio both local and abroad across various categories.