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Work habits of successful entrepreneurs

You’ve heard the phrase “work on your business, not in it,” but do you know what it means for you and how to go about it?

Working in it means doing the work of your business, which is probably the work you know best.

Working on it means creating a business that serves your life, a business that works whether you’re in it or not. It’s the strategic work you do to turn your vision into reality.

The starting point for working on your business is knowing what you want from life, and having a vision for your ideal business. With those two things in mind, you can identify what's really important to you and set priorities.

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The next step is making time to do the strategic work of building your business according to the picture you have in mind. You can use time management systems and tools to find time for this, but be mindful. Don't free up time only to spend it fighting fires. Instead, use your new-found time to fireproof your business by cleaning up the things that spark those fires in the first place.

Here are two mindset shifts that will help you focus your attention  on strategic work:

  • Make working on it an absolute priority every day no matter what else happens. Strategic work is actually the most important work you can do. It may not have an immediate payoff, but it's the only way to get the results you want from your business for the long term.
  • Be willing to step into the unknown. Don't be foolish or careless about it, but also don't be afraid to make educated guesses and take calculated risks. Inaction is just another form of making a decision—one with real consequences for your business.

Use these mindset shifts to start building productive habits like these into your days:

  • Aim to spend at least one hour a day devoted to strategic work—planning, managing or quantifying how your business is doing. You may have to work your way up to an hour a day over time, but set your intention and follow through to prioritize your strategic time over everything else.
  • Cultivate a spirit of innovation. Try doing something different at least once a week; let your frustrations be your guide. If your employees keep doing something in a way you don't want them to, try training them in a new way. If your customers are a mystery to you, start some conversations with them. Whatever's bothering you, even if you don't have all the answers and aren't sure how it will work out, try something new.
  • Closely observe something going in on your business. Watch to see what's working and what isn't. Be curious about what could be contributing to the results you're getting and let your observations point you to adjustments you can try out to see what changes.
  • Look for ways to delegate tasks to others. If you spend a lot of time working in your business, leverage some of it to pay attention to how you do something, then write down the steps and a description of how you go about it. Turn that over to someone else and see how it works in their hands. Maybe it won't be perfect, but it'll be a first step in freeing yourself from doing that thing yourself.
  • Declare an interruption-free zone when you're doing strategic work. Few strategies will have a greater impact on your productivity. And, you'll find out that most of the interruptions you normally get don't rise to the level of an emergency that needs your immediate attention anyway.
  • Document a clear plan for the future of your business. Picture what it will look like when it's working the way you want it to. Get the picture out of your head and into a form you can review once a week. Ask yourself: What progress did we make this week? What needs to happen next? What's holding me back? What needs to change?

Making these mindset shifts and habits a regular practice is what we mean when we talk about working on your business, not just in it. It'll take time, patience, discipline and effort—and the payoff will be worth it. It's the only way you'll get your business from where it is now to where you want it to be.



EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

We share free resources and stories from our clients, Coaches and team members about how to build a business that serves your life. Our posts will give you updates on our business insights and free educational content.