Gini Dietrich

How to Work On the Business Instead of In It

By: Gini Dietrich | May 1, 2018 | 
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How to Get Yourself to Work on the Business Instead of in itUp at 5 a.m. Write, check email, Facebook, Twitter, InstagramLinkedIn, text messages, blog traffic, web traffic, and Google Analytics all while brushing your teeth and feeding your family and getting them off to school and work.

Make time to exercise, do some more writing, get ready for work.

Work a full day.

Rush home to make and have dinner with your family.

Write, check email, Facebook, Twitter. Instagram, LinkedIn, text messages, blog traffic, web traffic, and Google Analytics.

Sleep by 11 p.m. Do it again the next day.

How familiar does this sound? Maybe there is a tweak or two in there, but if you’re an entrepreneur, your days are long, your weeks are long, your months are long, and your years fly by while you’re left wondering where your time went.

Create White Space in Your Life

A few years ago, I read a Harvard Business Review article about keeping white space in your business life, and it’s stuck with me.

The idea is that we all need time to think and reflect, consistently, in order to do a better job.

But, as illustrated above, leaving white space goes against the norm.

When I started Arment Dietrich, I spent all of my time working in the business. About three years into its existence, I realized we were stuck and it was because I didn’t work ON the business. At all.

Clients were in great shape. They were happy. But my own business suffered because of it.

A few people made some suggestions: carve out two hours a day that you don’t work with clients. Or carve out one day a week where you work solely on the business. Or schedule appointments with yourself so you can do things for the business.

Those things stressed me out. Big time. Not because they weren’t doable, but because I’d miss my appointments with myself or a client would ask for a time during my two hour block and I’d give it to them.

And then, suddenly, I was another quarter into another year and I the idea to work on the business was still just an idea.

It’s a conversation I have often with other business owners—how do you make time to work on the business versus in it?

Unfortunately, it’s a conundrum we all face and it’s one we all fail at doing.

All of us.

How to Work On the Business

I tried a few things: I blocked Friday afternoons to begin with and I was fiercely protective of that time (mostly because I had an assistant who made me,  so find yourself someone to hold you accountable, if you have to).

It worked some of the time. What I found come summertime, though, is I used that time not to work on the business, but to ride my bike outside. And that was amazing—I was tan and toned and relaxed.

But I still wasn’t working on the business. Generally, even if you aren’t going to give in to a three-hour Friday afternoon bike ride, you’ll likely use it for a long weekend or to day drink or to lie on the beach. Whatever your vice, Friday afternoon is a good time to do that instead of anything work-related.

So I chose a different day—Thursday afternoon seemed to work well. Again, I was forced by my colleagues to be fiercely protective of that time.

Then, as clients and staff got used to my not being available on Thursday afternoons, I added the morning, as well.

For nearly 10 years, I have worked on the business every Thursday, which has led to not only growth of Arment Dietrich, but the addition of our online products and services.

We now have nine revenue sources and we had only one when I started this.

All because I spend one full day every week working on the business. I don’t take client meetings. I don’t meet with my team. The things I do are those that need to be done in order to grow one, or both, companies.

What to Do During Your Business Work Days

It’s scary to do it and I get all sorts of pushback when I suggest it to our clients.

I mean, I did the same thing so I understand.

But get past your bad self and your objections and figure it out.

You can start small. Try it in two-hour blocks, if that makes you more comfortable. Choose two days and block two hours on those days for a month.

The days can even be different each week, depending on what you have going on. But do it for a month. And protect that time fiercely. The only thing you are going to do is work on the business.

Make sure you have a good priority list of things you want to accomplish during that time or you’ll find client work takes it over without your even realizing it.

This could be:

  • Craft a plan
  • Content for the month or new website updates
  • Take an online course
  • Build a new product
  • Create a webinar or other larger pieces of content that will drive leads
  • Update your privacy policy to adhere to GDPR
  • Create a month’s worth of videos or podcasts
  • Pitch your own media and contributed content
  • Write said contributed content
  • Build a partnership with another organization or trade association
  • Work on Facebook ads that will drive leads and conversions

The opportunities are endless to work on the business—I’m confident you have a list of things you want to do that keeps getting moved from week to week to month to year.

This Isn’t Just for Business Owners

After about a month of doing this, you’ll want (need) more time. So add two more hours of blocked time to your week.

Continue this process until you have a day that is solely devoted to working on your business.

This isn’t just for those of us who run businesses (and want to grow them), either. This is for everyone. We all need white space.

If you’re consistent about it and you keep your commitment to yourself, I guarantee some of those things that have been sitting on the back burner will get accomplished.

A year from now, let’s sit back and look at what you’ve done with your one day a week.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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