“Work on Your Business, Not In It”
This popular, and somewhat cliched refrain, has for many years been suggested as a managerial and entrepreneurial best practice, and as “the dream” of business owners everywhere.
Because if only…
…We could extract ourselves from all of “the stuff” that takes up our business day: customers, prospects, employees, contractors, regulators, meetings, emails, texts, social media, and more…
…and we were good enough at delegation, at process improvement, at separating the truly important from the chaff and the noise then…
…We would be left with the time and the clear and reflective energy to:
- Research, define, and document exactly the direction and destination toward which we wish to manage and lead our organizations.
- Start and make steady progress on those mission critical projects – marketing and branding, business development, product and service quality – that slowly but surely build key business assets and momentum.
- Create and sustain those key relationships – with customers, prospects, partners, employees, investors (current and prospective) – that make possible those oh so incredibly exciting exponential business leaps forward.
A business hero of mine that does all this and more is Richard Branson. Branson is rightfully admired for having built from scratch one of the most iconic and successful brands and family of companies in business history, and having a ton of fun while doing it.
When studying a business legend like him, I look for “lever points” – small areas of emulation that when mindsets and behaviors are modified (sometimes just slightly) to match, big productivity gains result.
Here are three great Richard Branson “work more on your business” lever points to emulate:
#3. Write. Wherever he goes, Branson famously carries with him a journal. He says there is “strategic magic” in writing, greatly because most of us learned to think in academic environments at impressionable ages with pen and paper in hand.
Because of this early-age imprinting and because writing is inherently a “quiet” activity, business work done this way is naturally more reflective and strategic.
#2. The Day’s First Hour: Sharpen the Saw. In Richard Branson’s “Why I Wake Early” post, he notes:
No matter where I am in the world, I try to routinely wake up at around 5am. By rising early, I’m able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.
Investing in ourselves, from the day’s get go – with exercise, meditation, spiritual reading, etc. – counteracts the entropy that can downgrade our business day into just a frenetic “one task to the next” squabble.
#1. The Proactive Comes First. Good executives react well to business stimuli – they return calls, they answer emails, when a co-worker says hello, they smile and say hello back, etc.
Great executives proactively create their business reality. They define and prioritize the most important projects. They cultivate the right relationships. They invest in their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being and in their capacity for creative work. They are the masters of their domains, of their fates.
And from this confident, unhurried, centered place, easily completed are more of their mission critical “on the business” projects, tasks, and to dos.
What is more fun in business than that?