Working ON the Business VS Working IN the Business

Running a business is not as easy as choosing the type of furniture you want in your living room or tying your shoelaces with eyes closed. This task even becomes tougher for those new to the business world. Oftentimes, clients would hire my services as a business coach because they feel overwhelmed with everything they need to do for their newly established organization. This is where my discussion about the importance of working on rather than in the business enters the equation. Likewise, in my talks as a motivational speaker to newbie entrepreneurs, I always highlight the difference between these two. So in this article, allow me to share with you how to embrace working on your business instead of working in your business. Throughout this article, I will be referring to Michael Gerber’s popular E-Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) to support my points.


In Gerber’s book, he talks about the three personalities within a business: the entrepreneur, the technician, and the manager. One of the most common mistakes of burgeoning businessmen is assuming all these roles thinking that it is the most efficient way to run a company. However, if we think about it, these three personalities have contrasting roles. Plus, seasoned business owners understand that the delegation of tasks is as important as choosing a company name.


Working as a manager or a technician entails working in the business. A manager supervises daily productivity. A technician performs the work through his expertise. These two personalities are directly involved in the business. An entrepreneur, on the other hand, is in charge of controlling the business and making sure it fulfills its vision. Thus, if you want to become an entrepreneur, you have to work on the business. What does this mean though?


An entrepreneur is the founder of a business, which means that he is supposed to be the one who assures the stability of the business. This is not an easy task that you could postpone for several weeks just because you are doing managerial or technician roles. You need to understand that these other tasks could be delegated to your employees, while you do the equally (or even more) important task which will maintain the overall business condition. I would understand that some startup owners are too consumed with passion about the business that they tend to micromanage everything, especially in the first few weeks of business opening. That’s why we need to correct this misconception that an entrepreneur is equivalent to a single-role employee. Take for example the successful stories of business tycoons such as Henry Sy and Manny Villar. They don’t directly sell and market their business because they have people to do that. What they do is plan how to accomplish their annual revenue target. Another example is Mark Zuckerberg, who, although he could code, does not do it because he has other tasks to accomplish. This is what working on the business means. An entrepreneur has to work on bigger tasks for the business, most particularly planning.


For those who still have a few resources to delegate day-to-day tasks to employees, time management would easily solve the problem. For example, you could allocate 20% of your time daily to think about your dreams and goals for the business and how to achieve them. The remaining time you have could then be spent on technician or managerial tasks. This way, you are able to balance working on and in the business. Furthermore, here are some of the things you could do with 20% of your daily schedule in order to assume the role of an entrepreneur and work on your business:


  • Think about how your networking circle could help your business goals.

  • Engage in improving your people network.

  • Research about new market trends.

  • Analyze new market demographics.

  • Update your promotional materials.

  • Think of ways on how to improve your marketing strategy.

  • Prepare innovative sales strategies.

  • Check if your business efforts are aligned with your goals.

  • Track the business performance and see where you could improve.

  • Look for inspiration from the industry.

The most important takeaway if you want to transition into an entrepreneur is to never lose sight of the big picture. There is no harm in doing small tasks and helping employees with their day-to-day deliverable, but doing this should not overshadow the fact that you, as an entrepreneur, are the founder and dreamer of your business. You have to look at it from around as well as from within to be able to assume your role in a more efficient manner. You have to work on the business rather than in the business if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur. Try it, and see how productive Gerber’s marketing advice is.


This is Joey Gurango, your Business Technology Coach!

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