How to Work ON the Business, Instead of IN the Business

July 23, 2014

by Mark Paggioli

One of the most common challenges that Business Owners face is that they oftentimes handle everything from running and maintaining the shop floor to managing the organization’s books to leading sales and marketing efforts. This is all too common an issue – and stems from the fact that, in many cases, it may have been a “necessary evil” to wear any number of different hats to start one’s own business and keep it running.

It’s easy to become consumed by working IN your business, but consistently working in instead of ON the business is also inherently fraught with risk. You could find yourself missing out on opportunities, current trends in the marketplace, and much more if you’re so caught up with attending to present items that you don’t look far enough up the road toward the future. As the leader and chief visionary of your organization, your time is best spent working in “ON” mode.

Working On Vs. Working In

When you’re working ON the business, you’re deliberately and proactively taking strategic initiatives to move your organization forward. You’re always focused on what you need to be doing in terms of your business’s capabilities and competencies – you look inward to assess your value and outward at risks, threats, and customer issues that need to be addressed. You aim to capitalize on opportunities by plotting a course and applying your resources strategically.

When you’re NOT working on the business, you’re reactive and there’s a high likelihood that you’re spending resources on areas that don’t further the organization over the long haul. Neglecting activities that enhance sustainable business can have a negative effect on the value of your organization, and can take away from value others perceive when evaluating your business for potential purchase.

Shift Your Mindset

For many leaders, shifting from “lead firefighter” to a more strategically-focused role can bring some discomfort, as the latter may be a completely foreign mindset for some. But it is crucial to the future success of your business that you break free from operating according to habit, or doing what prior generations did just because that’s “how things have always been done”, and instead focus on the actions need to take your organization to the next level. Reviewing job descriptions for President, CEOand the like can help paint a clearer picture of the role that is required to lead the business.

Be a Visionary

Working on the business offers a space in which an Owner can truly focus on actualizing their vision—where sales plans, market trends, finances, workforce talent, technology needs and other key elements become more than daily fires that need attention. They begin to align in their rightful place as strategic drivers of business value.

An assessment tool like Core Value can be very illuminating, as it dives into the critical issues of your business that are responsible for increasing value, such as:

  • growth
  • customer diversification
  • financials
  • management
  • operations
  • differentiation
  • …to name a few

3 Types of Leaders We Often See

CONNSTEP typically encounters three types of Owners/Presidents in the small to mid-sized space that benefit hugely from our assistance in driving organizational change:

  1. You’re an expert but not a leader. Perhaps your role as business leader evolved from being a technical expert and problem-solver in the business, or you grew up in the company, and taking it over became the logical next step. In a case like this, CONNSTEP can fill in any gaps you might struggle with as a business leader with executive coaching in areas related to sales, marketing, and strategic planning/execution.
  2. You’re one of the lifestyle set. It’s perfectly reasonable to view a business as a means to a comfortable lifestyle. But concerns can arise – especially when it’s time to start thinking about retirement, succession, and what is needed to increase business value and enhance salability. In these cases, a business valuation tool like Core Value can help you assess your organization and determine the true value so that all stakeholders achieve the most positive outcome possible.
  3. You recognize the need for help, but you aren’t sure where to turn. This represents a large portion of our community, and clearly these businesses are at risk. Too often, this group is so afraid of making a bad decision about where to turn for assistance that they make no decision at all. Competitive benchmarking assessment tools like PROBE can help you pinpoint where to focus your time and energy to get the most “bang for your buck”.

Mobilize Your Leadership Team

As Owner, President, or CEO, you are ultimately responsible for leading the development and execution of the company’s long term strategy and increasing business value. This necessitates an ability to manage and communicate with stakeholders about organizational performance and key organizational metrics that relate to your long- and short-term plans.

Make the most of your time and organizational resources by empowering your team and holding them accountable for enhancing the daily outcomes of their job functions. After all, a single mind may create a great vision, but it takes a unified team to move an organization forward. Build a core leadership team with departmental representation, and have regular meetings where you check in on action items and discuss progress. Delegating some of your current responsibilities may seem easier said than done, but will inevitably grow business as you get more comfortable and mobilize key management leaders to assist you.

Benefit from Third-Party Expertise

CONNSTEP is a trusted resource for CT businesses looking to grow and increase business value. Our experts help Owners and Presidents who might be in over their heads or need help with goal-setting prioritization and tactics, strategic or succession planning, or marketing and sales.

Are you spending the right amount of time working on the business, not just in the business? Do daily obstacles get in the way of profitable growth? Don’t risk another day. Start improving the health of your organization today by building an infrastructure and revenue streams to sustain it over time.

Start the Conversation

CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

CT manufacturer Pegaasus

Chris DePentima

CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

“I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

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Mark Burzynski

President, Arthur G Russell Co

“CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

esi CT manufacturer

Ron Delfini

President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

“CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

Tom Lucas

Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

“CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

Greg Safarik

VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

Bruce Wheeler

VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

“The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

Tornik CT manufacturer

Dan Rubbo

General Manager, Tornik LLC

“The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

Bill Lathrop

President, Colonial Spring Co.

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