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Are You Working More IN Your Business, Than ON It?


Are you working more IN your business than ON it?


Do you find your time being consumed by "urgent" matters, as opposed to things you would really like to do?

Do you find yourself moving from one demand on your time to the next, whether they are truly important or not?

Do you find yourself with little or no time to work on truly strategic initiatives? What about your vision, the reason you originally went into business? Do you have time to think about that?

If you are are like many owners building a business, you find yourself spending too much of your time responding to "urgent" matters - that may or may not be helping you to achieve your vision. If this is a challenge you face there are some key steps you can take to spend more of your time on the things that really matter to you and your vision. Here are couple tools to help start the process.

The First Tool

The first tool is often ascribed to Steven Covey, but actually has its roots in something created by President Dwight Eisenhower. Below is the Eisenhower Matrix. This simple, but very revealing model, helps us to analyze how we spend our time. This grid organizes our activities according to the relation between two qualities, Urgency vs Importance, to arrive at four possible ways to describe the things we work on.


Quadrant 1 is where much of an owner's time gets absorbed. These are matters that are both important to the business and have a true urgency. While these may be the best use of your time, do you really know that to be true?

Quadrant 2 is an area that could be called the Bermuda Triangle of business - because much time and energy is lost here. This area captures items that present as urgent, but are really not important. The next category that captures our time is Quadrant 4. These are things that are not urgent and not important, but they may also be less taxing, so we can find ourselves procrastinating here, in between handling the urgent matters.

Last but not least - is Quadrant 3. This is the area for the things that are important but not urgent, or better said - they do not present themselves as urgent today. Yet, in reality, this is possibly the most urgent section for a business owner to be focused on. This is the section where strategic and visionary thinking happen. These are the things that determine the real long term success and value of a business. These are the matters that determine what in Quadrant 1 is truly important. This is where a business owner or leader is actually working ON the business, not IN it. Yet, this is the area where the least time is typically spent by most business owners and leaders. So how do we change this? How does an owner become freed from the so-called "urgent' tasks to work on what is really important? We need to look at how President Eisenhower applied this tool.

Let us begin first with a poignant quote from Eisenhower: "What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important." This so true, but is so easily lost in the flurry of "urgent" matters we face day to day. The former President explained how he kept this truth top of mind by providing specific suggestions on how to respond to items in each quadrant:


The Path to Freedom

The matrix above is an outstanding starting point to begin to filter the activities of your day and week. It is one that will take diligence and commitment, but if applied it will be a key step on your path to freedom to do what you really want to do. It is also one that will require you to communicate with your team so they understand your new method for overcoming the madness. In order to be truly effective at this, you will also need to think bigger picture about what really is the best use of your time. The following tool is a guide to help you in further assessing what you should be delegating, going beyond the questions of importance and urgency. This matrix helps you to determine what is really the best use of your time, based on two factors: you abilities and what you really enjoy doing.


As this matrix indicates, if you really want to achieve the freedom and happiness you desire with your business, you need to candidly assess, what do you do best and what do you like to do. You will have the greatest success and productivity, if you can focus not just on urgent matters - but on the things you are best at and enjoy most - like working ON your business, not just IN it.

In order to achieve this shift in mindset and management process, there are some bigger picture questions you may already be asking that you will need to ultimately address such as:

  • Do I have the team in place to allow me to effectively delegate?

  • Is my vision focused and clear enough to guide the team when I delegate?

  • Can I truly trust the business to run in my absence?

  • Do I have the systems in place to give me visibility into the company and ensure people are being held accountable when I delegate?

  • Do I have the resources to effectively fund building or improving these processes and hiring the right people to fill the right seats?

We Can Help!

We are passionate about helping people to achieve their vision for growth. We can help to bring clarity to your vision and your organization. We specialize in integrating your vision into your strategic plan, your capital structure, systems and your people to ensure every part of your business is aligned for success. We would love to help. Please call Joe Valentic at 313-418-6629 to take that next step to working more On your business than IN it.


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