Working On, Not In, Your Business

Like a smoker desperately trying to quit, or anyone struggling to diet, doing the things we know we should do isn’t always easy. It’s exactly what we experience in business every day we go to work.

We know what we need to do. Getting it done is an entirely different issue.

Michael Gerber became famous when he wrote “The E-Myth.” In it, Gerber talks about systems and processes, and he talks about the entrepreneur who owns a job, not a business. He talks about working on your business instead of in it. This is the essence of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

One of the problems we face as business leaders is that we live in a time when success is measured not in months and years, but in hours and days. We are forced to live in the here and now.

Unfortunately, business doesn’t work best when it works that way. Business requires patience, persistence and being strategic — things many of us fail to make the time for.

If you have tried to write a story as an adult, you know there are many elements you simply have to grind your way through. For some, the opening is the hardest part. For others, it’s the character development, and for others, finding a way to close the story and let it end.

Every writer must get past these hurdles. This is a process quite similar to the planning a business should be doing regularly. Business plans, marketing plans, strategic plans — all taking time, all producing little bottom line value in the short term, but all critical to long-term success.

Every good idea that finds its way into the beginnings of a story comes with obstacles. Who are the characters going to be and how will you introduce them? Where are they headed, what is driving them and what is the point of the story?
When a story is begun, it eventually takes on a life of its own. The story drives the writer to uncover the answers to questions about the future and put them down in writing.

It’s through this creative process that the writer finds a way to fight through the obstacles and get the story told. This is where the discipline comes from. And this is what most business people lack.

It’s no effort to go to work in the morning, fall into a routine and focus on the easy things. Getting to the planning takes more than time, it takes focus and discipline. You have to want to do it, and you have to force yourself to think strategically. It’s exactly like the writer trying to write a story and staring at a blank page.

As an entrepreneur, I can tell you first-hand how the day-to-day grind can become all consuming. It begins with little things, picky things that seem to demand your attention and suck you dry. Before you know it, you find yourself pulled into what’s known as the tyranny of the urgent and lose track of your purpose —
building your business.

As you go through the coming weekend, treat yourself to 20 or 30 minutes of quiet time. Sit down somewhere you won’t be disturbed and just think. Keep any possible distractions away from you such as your iPhone or your BlackBerry. Have a pad of paper and something to write with so you can capture your ideas.

Think about your business and the story you want to tell your friends and family about it. Create characters and a plot. Maybe it’s the evil competitor, maybe it’s the government. Just find a story line you can use to get started and start writing.
Before long you’ll be writing so fast your hand will hurt and your mind will be racing with thoughts and ideas. What you want to do, where you want to take your business and how you’re going to get there.

This is your story, and if you can fight your way past the initial hurdles, it will come to life and feel as if it’s writing itself without your help.

Whether you’re an owner, manager, or front-line worker, you must find, develop and nurture the skill and discipline to plan. Without planning, you have no hope of creating success and realizing your ultimate dreams. And that’s what writing is all about — making your dreams come true.


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