Work On Your Business – Not IN it

Ever feel like you are constantly spinning your wheels with your business, always busy, but not making much progress? Of course you have. Every business owner feels this way, especially in the tree care industry. With all of the responsibilities of owning a business, a successful owner must be able to take a step back and work ON their business not IN it. Because this is extremely hard to do, I want to give you my 6 tips for beginning to work on your business and not in it.

Desire to work ON your business – If you want to achieve large goals for your company, you must have a desire to work on your business. This is an internal motivation that only you can provide and requires daily discipline and energy to stay focused on what is truly important to your organization.

Establishing the vision and core values – After you’ve committed to working on your business, you must get serious about creating a vision and a set of core values for your company. There are a lot of ways to write vision statements and create core values, but don’t get hung up on the exact words or way to do it right now. Start brainstorming what you want your company to look like in the future and what do you want it to stand for. This is a vital exercise that should be done at least once a year to properly evolve as a business. Over time, you will see a crystal clear picture of who your company is and where it is going.

Hire the right people – The only way you can successfully work on your business is to have the right team members to do the tasks that you used to do. I have always been a large proponent of hiring for attitude and culture fit and then training for the job. Sure the employee must have a base level of competency in the position before I hire them, however, it is much easier to teach the right employee than it is to manage an employee that doesn’t fit in. Now, hiring the right employee isn’t that easy. One of your responsibilities as the business owner is to develop a hiring and recruiting process that will eventually create a pipeline of new talent to your organization for years to come.

Delegation and Empowerment – What tasks do you do every day that could be handed off to someone else? Why do you still do these tasks? Are you afraid that they won’t get done the same way that you would do them? Most owners have a difficult time delegating anything to their employees, however time never stands still and the lack of delegation is the surest way to a stale business. Once you have identified what tasks and responsibilities you can delegate, give your employees the power to make decisions for these. It will only be natural to check on them and question their decisions, but resist this urge. If you have communicated your vision and core values well enough to your team, they will earn your trust by being allowed to carry out that vision. No one likes a micro-managing boss, so allow your employees to take ownership in projects and reward them with encouraging feedback when they do a good job. If an employee’s decision or actions do not result in a positive outcome, work with the employee to help them come up with a different solution for the future. Of all of your efforts to work on your business, this is the most important, your team must know that you trust them to make decisions on your behalf and that their job will be secure if they make a mistake.

Training on Standards and Procedures – The best companies build systems that are standardized and allow for employees to enter in and out of the system with minimal interruption. Developing the way your company operates around a process versus a person may seem foreign and a bit intimidating, but is the surest way to building a rock solid organization. Dissect every aspect of your business from the customer experience to the pruning standards to your equipment maintenance schedule. Create standards for each area so that a new employee can come into the company and know what is expected of them. Please don’t try to do this on your own. Part of the delegation and empowerment is getting your team members to help out with this. You will be surprised how much better your standards and procedures are when you involve your team to develop them.

Block out Time – This is my last tip, but really could be listed first. As the owner, you have to block out time to work on your business. This means uninterrupted time where you focus on the most important aspects of your company. Blocking out time is really hard to do if you work out of your home or if you have a busy office, so what works best for me is to schedule time away from my normal desk. This allows me to work on the proactive tasks that I need to do without feeling like I’m ignoring the needs of my team. Find a physical location that you can do some deep work for your business and regularly schedule time to go there.
Starting to work on your business is hard to do, however, by slowly implementing these tips into your work life, you will start to see a transformation within your company.

Written by: Eric Petersen