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5 Ways to Work ON Not IN Your Business

Only by hitting pause and working ON your business will you ensure you are in the driver's seat.


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Cynthia Lockrey

3 years ago | 4 min read

As business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s easy for the days and months to fly by as you have your head down, busy satisfying customers and managing staff. While this may help keep your business running, it won’t allow it to grow in a strategic way. Only by hitting pause and taking the time to work ON your business will you ensure you are in the driver’s seat.

I recently was reminded of the importance of this lesson.

Earlier this year I took part in a one-day retreat with a group of fellow entrepreneurs. While the retreat sparked a number of ideas, I knew I needed to dig a bit deeper.

So, I booked a half-day session with my business coaches from LeapZone Strategies. Yes, it was an investment of time and money, but I knew it was key to growing my business on my terms.

When I’ve shared with fellow entrepreneurs the great learnings from my day, I often hear “I’d love to do that, but I’m just too busy. I could never slip away for a day.”

Seriously?? If your organization (even if you’re a sole proprietor) can’t exist without you being present 100% of the time, then it’s not sustainable.

Here are some reasons why it’s important to take time to work ON your business not IN your business (and lessons learned from my coaching session).

1. Create space

Whether you hire a business coach, host a management retreat (even if it’s virtual) or clear a day from your calendar, what’s important is you set aside space to plan. Make sure you remove all distractions. This means your phone is off, you have no meetings to break your concentration and you are in a space that sparks creativity, not your usual working space.

For me, I was able to meet in-person with my coach (respecting physical distancing) in her space, which is designed to spark creativity. This allowed us to really dig into my values, my client work, what’s working, and identify new business opportunities based upon my strengths.

2. Follow your passion

As you think about how you want your business to grow, dig in to your passions. What do you love about your business? What gets you excited, motivated and inspired? What are the tasks that come easy to you, and what task do you need to delegate?

As you explore your passions, you may find there are untapped products, services or markets.

I discovered I spend a lot of time coaching my clients on communications skills and techniques, but don’t offer coaching services. Rather, it’s wrapped into my work with them. My coach helped me realize the value of offering a new stand-alone service that not only is something I enjoy, but also benefits my clients. I’m now offering communications coaching sessions which are independent of project work, to help my clients build their knowledge and confidence.

3. Brainstorm

Don’t enter this session with a pre-set plan. Yes, it’s okay to have some broad areas for discussion, but you want to ensure there’s space for creativity. As innovation is the by-product of creativity, by skipping this step you won’t be able to innovate.

How do you do this? By being setting time for brainstorming. If you work with a team, make sure everyone knows the rules – there are no right or wrong ideas. This is a safe space where all ideas are welcome. And the words – yes but – are not allowed to be used.

For those of you who are self-employed, these rules apply to you too. Give yourself permission to explore the possibilities – free of judgement.

4. Be accountable

Now here’s the tough part – carving out space to implement the new ideas or your vision for the future. There is no magic fairy who will make this happen. You need to set aside time to ensure your ideas become a reality.

I have a list of ideas that were generated from my time with my coach that need further refinement so they can take shape. Despite having a busy client load, I am planning to book a couple of nights in a B&B, ensuring I have the time and creative space to do the work that’s needed.

Being a mom of two kids, I know if I don’t carve the time I need, the new ideas will just be ideas.

5. Regular check-ins

While this all sounds great, working on your business can’t be a once a year event. You need to carve time throughout the year to see what’s working, what’s not working and make the necessary refinements.

This is why it’s important to have someone who holds you accountable. Whether it’s a business coach, staff member or fellow entrepreneur, you need to have someone who helps ensure you don’t spend months with your head down working, not taking the time to pause and evaluate.

As I continue reflecting on the aha moments from my time with Isabelle and Margarita from LeapZone Strategies, I’m excited about the future that lies ahead of me. It’s a future that fits with my values and passions, allowing me to not only provide my clients with the level of service they deserve, but also give me space to grow as a person and professional.

I encourage you to look at how you can create space to work on your business so you are in the driver’s seat, setting the course for your future.

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Cynthia Lockrey

Cynthia is a speaker, writer, advocate & public relations professional who's passionate about helping people share their stories & be heard! Having worked in pr for over 20 years, she's understands how to make a personal connection through clear communications www.howtocommunications.com


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