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Drive Growth - Work on and in your business!

The reason your business isn’t growing is likely within your control. Everyone has the same hours in the day, but great business builders use their time more effectively than average executives. Most slow or no-growth businesses are led by hardworking, well-intended, but mostly reactive executives who are consumed and reacting to the problems of the day. Many describe being overwhelmed, and exhausted and can’t see a way out of the daily onslaught of problems they feel they must personally resolve. As a result, they don’t consistently dedicate time to developing these drivers of growth:

1. Product and service innovations.

2. Business strategy, messaging, and supporting content creation.

3. Business development discipline and sales management effectiveness.

4. Recruiting and developing key people to drive growth and scale.

5. Operational excellence through structural clarity, role/function/incentive alignment, and continuous improvement.

Businesses don’t mysteriously grow; they grow because the leader has designed and built a business system capable of continuously increasing client value and operational capability. No business outgrows the leader’s capability. EVER! In fact, until a business leader gets control of at least a small portion of their time, every objective outside of survival is unlikely.

Effectively working in and working on your business are two of the most important executive habits contributing to executive performance. The good news is you are more than capable of being a successful business builder and the greatest performance influencers (time, creativity, consistency, discipline, and focus) are mostly under your control. See my blog: Control Your Time, Create Your Future (

What’s the difference between working “on” vs. working “in” your business?

WORKING IN YOUR BUSINESS (Tactical) - is anything related to current clients, prospects, services/products, operations, and employee issues. It’s anything related to current tactical sales and service operations. Working in your business is about performance and execution for the current quarter and year.

WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS (Strategic) – is anything related to building or enhancing products, services, processes, technologies, or related to driving growth and scale in the future. Working on the business relates to the leader (You) imagining, designing, strategizing, building, or buying (through M&A) the products, services, technologies, talent, organization, or geographic footprint that will drive growth next year and beyond. In working on your business, you are consistently investing a portion of your current time for future growth.

EXAMPLE: “Working In” and “Working On” The Business

A good example of an executive who effectively manages short-term tactical (working in the business) and strategic longer-term (working on the business) is Apple’s, Tim Cook. Cook effectively manages the short-term delivery of the next iPhone every September, while building the technology, talent, and organization to deliver iPhones (and other products) of future Septembers. Like a master chess player, Cook has Apple’s short-term operational execution and long-term strategic product cycles synergistically working together to grow and dominate the market for years to come. See my blog: Be in Command of Short Term Execution and Long-Term Growth (

Working on and working in the business will mean different things to different people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual salesperson, team leader, small business owner, or an executive running a global entire enterprise. Working on and working in the business are both key to your success! The size and maturity of the organization, the scope of the role, performance metrics, and the industry will inform what working on and working in the business should look like for you.

While working on and in your business are simple concepts to understand, mastering them takes time, and consistent discipline. Once most people start to practice and see the benefits and forward progress, they’re unlikely to return to daily reactive chaos and feeling constantly overwhelmed and out of control. Like any behavioral change, you’ll likely have several iterations of taking two steps forward and one step back until you ultimately master your game.

Do your best and forget the rest!


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