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Are you working ON your business or only IN it?

When I was first starting my business, I frequently felt underwater, like I was gasping for air and couldn’t find any.

Every day was a constant struggle between doing what I loved (serving clients) and doing what I knew I should be doing (growing my business).

I spent 90% of my time working in my clients’ businesses. And when it came time to do anything beyond invoice my clients, I felt drained.

Writing a blog post would wait. Crafting a new piece of content for email subscribers could wait. Meeting with industry people could definitely wait.

Worst of all, I started to sense my pace wasn’t sustainable.

Had I made a mistake?

The real problem – I was too focused on working IN my business, that I left no space to work ON my business.

What does that even mean?

I was focusing only on the actions it took to keep my business running that day, to do the actual skill that people paid me to do. But I wasn’t doing any of the high-level, big-picture work to take my business where I actually wanted it to go, to build the business and life that I dreamed of.

I had to get really real with myself and make sure I truly wanted this business to be a success because my actions were not supporting that theory.

As business owners, we all reach a time where we need to get honest with ourselves and make sure we’re setting ourselves up to achieve those dreams.

Let’s start now!

When thinking about your business, answer these questions:

  1. Do you operate in reactionary mode the majority of the time, mostly on the defensive?
  2. Are you not getting to those marketing activities, like writing your next blog post or connecting with people, on a regular basis because you just don’t have the time and/or energy?
  3. Do you enjoy working in the weeds of your business, controlling all of the details?
  4. Is taking action towards your business goals not your top priority? (it’s up there, but if you’re being honest, it’s not #1 based on how you really spend your time)
  5. Do you avoid planning for the future, such as the exact actions you want to take over the next 3-6 months to move your business forward?
  6. Are you in your inbox more than four times per day?
  7. Is the first thing you do to start your day, diving right into client work?
  8. Do you not make time to plan how to reach your business goals because there’s just not enough time or a specific task can’t wait?
  9. Do you respond to business communications within 2-3 hours (or less)?
  10. Is more than 75% of your week spent working with clients (directly or indirectly)?

Did you answer ‘Yes’ to four or more? If so, you’re working too much IN your business, which can lead to stagnation, overwhelm and, eventually, burnout.

Good news is, there are solutions and we’ll talk about one very specific course of action next time.

Until then, what did you learn from today’s quiz? Comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

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