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Work at the business, not in it… MAN it's hard!

Every day, week, month I am trying to work AT the business. I know in theory that as a business owner it is better to work AT the business… grow the business and work on the business processes, control, governance and . Every book I’ve ever read about business shares the same mantra: “work AT the business, not IN it…” And it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a small, medium or large business. The owner should NOT be 100% occupied with working in the business.

But you know? It’s hard!
Example: I have a monthly meeting with my forum and it has now been decided to move that meeting to 2.30pm. Very important meeting and only once a month… BUT… as I am also utilized as a trainer I can’t guarantee that I can always be there for the meeting. Attending the meeting would be working AT the business, delivering the training course would be working IN the business.

What do you do? Tell the client (who is paying for the course) that you won’t be able to deliver this program because you have a 3 hour meeting in the middle of it? After all, I run an education company so delivering training courses is part of what we do.

And this week was another classic: We came back from the conference and all of us were ready and prepared for the follow up activities that are to be done. We had it all sorted: Juliet would work on the direct sales leads with her sales team and I would follow up on the CxO level interest – not as a sales related activity but as a relationship building and general staying in touch.
On Monday most of the people in the sales team are coughing and spluttering and on Tuesday the sales admin person calls in sick. So what do you do? Continue with the original plan and take much longer to follow up with the leads from the conference? Or step in there and help out with the operational jobs to be done… the show must go on right?!
Taking a long time to get back to clients is not our thing. We have a policy to get back to clients within 12 – 24 hours with a reply or answer. So I find myself writing emails, completing excel spreadsheets and performing overall admin tasks.
Yep… I am working IN the business, not AT it… or am I?

I still haven’t figured this one out yet…