Work on the business from the outside, not in it – Book: Effortless entrepreneur

One of the key points of "Effortless entrepreneur" is that you need to create systems and delegate work so that you can free up time to improve your business.

p38. Work on the business from the outside, not in it. A great entrepreneur builds systems to run the business as if it were a machine, and stands over it instead of being part of its inner workings. A business owner should sell that machine to clients and perfect its functionality, but not sit in the gear room. How many times have you seen a local store owner answering phones, doing paperwork, and assisting customers all at once? This business owner works IN the business, not ON it, and hasn't identified the different positions within his business, such as receptionist, salesperson, and cashier. Instead, he does all those jobs himself.

Creating manuals and training maps for each position from the get-go forces you to evaluate what needs to be done and helps identify tasks you might not think of right away. That can mean fewer unpleasant surprises down the road. At first, you'll likely have to work IN your business and do most, if not all, of the work for each position. That's common when you start out. But create a system that allows you to just work ON it as soon as possible. Once that system is operative, a business gains its true value.

Work on your business, not just in it. It makes sense, although lots of small-business owners find it hard to make that jump.

How can people practice this now? After all, even if you work for a company, you work for yourself, too.

It's kinda like what Trent (The Simple Dollar) writes about in "Who is your real boss? Some perspectives on career success":

My belief is this: the people that succeed are the people who invest that energy and time and patience and thought a little differently. What do I mean?

  • Option A: Let’s say you go to work each day and leave it all on the table. When you leave work, you’re so drained you can barely make it home. You sit on the couch, vegetate for a while, eat dinner, vegetate a bit more, then hit the sack. Or perhaps you’re a parent and you leave work with just enough energy to get through your parental requirements in the evening.
  • Option B: On the other hand, let’s say you go to work and intentionally keep half of your energy for yourself. You give the company 50% of the gas in your tank. After you leave, you spend that 50% improving yourself. You go to night classes. You go to the gym. You go to the library. You go to meetings of professional growth groups, like Toastmasters.

Well, maybe not 50%. If you can do your work with 80% effort, and then invest the rest into building skills and processes, then it's like a savvy entrepreneur investing time into building systems, not just fighting fires. Sometimes it's more like a full-energy work and 20% extra, but I enjoy the work and the learning along the way.

At work, I'm learning about the way we work on projects: the processes, the templates, the questions and conversations. I like making systems, processes, and tools, so I'm learning how to improve things.

I'm working on applying this idea of "working on the business, not just in it" in personal life as well. Hence the household optimizations: batch cooking and a chest freezer, tweaked routines, relationship-building. Capacity-building for future adventures.

I'm looking forward to do even better. At work, I want to to learn more about Drupal 7, consulting, and the processes we have. I'm also looking forward to writing up more notes and coaching others. In the rest of life, I'd like to experiment with delegating again, invest time into becoming a better writer, and continue building wonderful relationships.

How about you? How can you not only work in your business, but on it?

Effortless entrepreneur: Work smart, play hard, make millions
2010 Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman
Three Rivers Press
ISBN 978-0-307-58799-2

Book: Effortless entrepreneur 2011-01-10 Mon 19:27