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In entrepreneurship there is a concept called Working IN your business vs. Working ON your business.

Working in your business means you are the force that creates revenue for your company.

Working in your business means you are the business. Should you fall sick, the business falls sick. Should you take leave, the business takes leave. You are the business and the business is you.

Working on your business allows you to grow your company to the point that your business can create revenue even if you aren’t there.

You create systems and processes that allows the business to run on it’s own even when you are not there.

I would like to argue that the same principle [working in. vs working on your business] also applies to non-entrepreneurs, but to employees in companies.

We spend a majority of our days working in our jobs.

This involves doing what we are, at least on the surface, hired to do.

We execute our job descriptions at least according to our employment contract.

For those who have the privilege to work in offices, it is some mix of problem finding and problem solving, bringing people together to solve those problems, and selling, lots of selling.

Working on your job, on the other hand, is all about taking the time to get direction right.

  • Are you investing in the right products?
  • Are you developing the right skills to operate in your workplaces, build and sell these products?
  • Are you set up to work on the stuff that matters?
  • Are you building the relationships that helps you working “in” your job better?
  • Are you making directional progress in your career?

Working in your job vs. working on your job is analogous to efficiency vs. effectiveness and managing vs. leading.

Our natural bias tends to favour a focus on activity, busy-ness, and efficiency.

Our natural bias tends to favour a focus on managing our careers instead of leading it.

That is why it matters that we force ourselves to carve out time every week to ask ourselves the effectiveness and leading questions.

As Peter Drucker wisely reminded us:

There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

2 thoughts on “Working in your job vs. working on your job

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