Working on the Business vs in the Business

If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve heard “You should work more on your business than you work in it!” I would have enough money to buy a $50,000 ghostbusting detector like Lady Gaga. Yes, she actually did. Today, we’re ghostbusting the classic myth that has entrepreneurs scratching their heads: the idea that spending more time working on your business vs in the business, is the magical secret to success. 

And while I do think it’s a great idea, nobody seems to offer how to do it, when to start, or what you should prioritize. You probably barely have time to accomplish the honey-do list for your clients, customers, or donors, right? And sure, strategic planning, and delegating are all essential. 

But here’s Honey’s Hot-take: spending quality time working in your business can be just as crucial, if not more, AND inform how to work on the business.


Step 1: Trap Your “Ghosts”

For 2 weeks, investigate the day-to-day operations of your business as if it weren’t your own and you were trying to trap all the “ghosts” or the annoying things that are haunting your business and preventing growth. This third-party perspective allows you to gain a deep understanding of your processes, systems, and customer needs so you can begin to identify potential inefficiencies and areas for improvement. THIS is what you’ll take as your homework back to the Firehouse to work “on the business.” 

🔑 Takeaway: Take notes on things that bother you about your day-to-day—both big and small—from your email signature looking whack to your onboarding process being a little lackluster.

Step 2: Evaluate and Prioritize

After trapping the pesky” ghosts” in your business, you’ve got to ID them to determine what your plan of action is:

  • Contain ’em: If you’ve discovered that your onboarding process is all over the place, it’s time to reign it in. Get some systems in place to increase productivity. Try a CRM or write canned emails to organize your contacts, and clients, and automate as much as possible. 
  • Let ’em out: Have you been holding back? It’s not easy to put yourself out there but marketing and advertising go a long way! It helps to create a plan to hold yourself accountable. We created this user-friendly content calendar to keep ourselves on track. Try it out and let us know what you think!
  • Destroy ’em: Let’s say you’re spending too much time on social content but you’re seeing zero ROI. Been there, done that. Instead of endlessly scrolling or spending hours writing witty captions, use your trusty iPhone to set a timer and when that beep-boop-beep goes off it’s time to step away and move on to the next project. This method will help you destroy the habit!

🔑 Takeaway: Rate your “ghosts” on a scale of 1-5 based on the ease of resolving them and choose just one or two per 30 days to focus on based on your current workload with clients or operations.

Step 3: Set Aside Time to Fulfill Your Plan

Consistency is key. Pick a time every week or month that feels realistic and then treat your business like it’s one of your clients.  Some people call this a CEO day or a focus day.  It’s all about blocking time to tackle your honey-do list. You can still communicate with clients and check emails but try not to hive dive into any major client work or schedule meetings during this time. Give yourself permission to make your business your priority for that chunk of time.

🔑 Takeaway: Choose one day or even one hour each month to deep focus on your “ghosts.” Close out your email tab and block off the same time each month and stay consistent.


If you need a little extra help, our Honey-Do Days are the perfect support. We can cross a bunch of tasks off your list for you like designing print materials, digital graphics, website updates, campaign assets, copywriting, and more. 

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