Don’t Work on your business, Work in it!

Business owners who are interested not only in a business that is more valuable to the customer but also in seeing an increase in profits may want to reconsider their role in their own company. If you find that your company is not doing as well as you feel it should be, the answer may be adopting a philosophy that I, as a CFO Consultant, highly advocate and work to help all my clients achieve. That philosophy is that a good business owner should never work in their business, but instead always be working on their business.
It can be very challenging to turn your whole business strategy around. If you’re a business owner who is too involved working in their business, it can be a very hard habit to break. You might even feel it’s not possible and wouldn’t work. Here are some steps and strategies to help get you in the right mindset to stop working in your company and start working on it:

  • The right people need to be given operational and administrative responsibilities, and if you aren’t absolutely certain you have the right people, you need to work to find them. As the business owner, you cannot have or even get involved in any operational or administrative duties, so it’s imperative you find and hire people you trust to do these jobs.
  • As the business owner, you are your company’s ambassador; you speak for your company. You are the face of your company, you control what the world sees when they look at your business.
  • As the business owner, you are the one responsible for bringing in business, and should be consistently trying to pull in business from their existing customer base, and reaching out to bring in new business.
  • Remain in constant communication with your existing customer base. Maintaining those relationships is of utmost importance and is the business owner’s responsibility.

I have had clients who have snickered at this philosophy, mostly due to its apparent ineffectualness in the 2008 recession. During that time, many business owners adhering to this philosophy were forced to lay off the key people in operational and administrative positions, so of course without the people who make working on a business possible, these business owners had to return to working in their business.

What I say to those who snicker and look at the eventual return to working in their company as inevitability, is that those business owners went about dealing with the recession all wrong. Had I been there to consult those business owners, I would never have advised that they lay off their key people, or abandon working on their company not in it altogether. In a recession, a business owner should never lay off key people or top performers. In difficult times, those people are needed more than ever, because the business owner needs to throw themselves even harder into creating an appealing face for the company and continuing to bring in business during a time when people are wary of spending money on anything. For the business owner to take themselves out of that crucial position and throw themselves into operational and administrative duties because they fired all their top employees at all is a huge mistake. The people who should be laid off are your secondary performers, people who do okay, bare minimum, or who do poorly in their respective jobs.

Hopefully, I have convinced some business owners to embrace the concept of working on their business, not in it. A Part Time CFO worth their salt should at least have a working knowledge of this particular philosophy and how to implement it as part of their CFO services.

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