There are two broad categories of work related to your business—working on your business and working in your business. If you have read the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber, you already know what I’m talking about. Working on your business includes any type of work that will push forward the long-term future success of your business. These tasks include hiring employees, leading your team, finding new revenue sources, establishing systems, negotiating business development deals and long-term strategic planning. Completing tasks that fall under working on your business won’t move the needle on any of the day-to-day tasks of running your business, but they will position your company for long-term growth and success.
Working in your business involves doing the day-to-day tasks of running your business. In the online business world, these tasks include creating content, managing your website, doing graphic design work, managing your company’s books, moderating comments on your website and any other tasks that aren’t directly related to growing your audience, generating revenue, leading your people or establishing systems. If you are a one woman or one man show, it can be very easy to get bogged down completing the day-to-day tasks of running your business. You might be so focused on the current customer or the next blog post that you never get around to doing any planning that will establish your business for long-term success.
You can do all of the day-to-day work in the world, but your business won’t continue to grow without long term strategic planning, building a team and establishing systems. Conversely, if you do all of the planning in the world but never actually do of the hands-on tasks of getting your business off the ground, your business will fail before you even launch. Early on in your business, the key is to recognize when you are working in your business and when you are working on your business and making time for both categories of tasks. Over time, you will begin to build a team to handle the day-to-day operations of your business so that you can spend more time working on the long-term growth of your business.
Your online business will require a unique combination of skills, including, vision casting, writing, editing, graphic design, social media marketing, website management, ad selection and placement, product creation and customer service. Nobody is good at doing everything and chances are there are some skills in that list that you are pretty bad at or simply don’t want to do. If you want your business to grow and get better over time, bring on people that are smarter than you to handle the parts of your business that you are bad at.
I’m not very good at web design and front-end development, so I employ a full-time web designer. I’m also not terribly excited about answering the 25-50 customer support emails that come into MarketBeat every day, so I’ve hired a dedicated customer support person that can handle those emails with excellence. By hiring out those two positions, my business has a much better website and is much better at customer service than if I were trying to do everything myself. By delegating these two roles, I also have more time to focus on the things that I’m best at and the things that drive revenue for MarketBeat.
You also must recognize that your time is more valuable than you think it is. If you made $100,000 this year, the effective value of your time would be $50.00 an hour (assuming you work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks out of the year). If your time is worth $50.00 per hour, you probably shouldn’t be doing work that you can easily hire out for $15.00 an hour. This is why I never mow my own lawn or try to do any household repairs myself—I’d much rather write a small check and have someone else worry about mowing my lawn or fixing my shower. You might be able to replace the work that you are hiring out a relatively-low hourly rate with more valuable tasks that generate more revenue for your business. Even if that’s not the case, you still might want to pay $15.00 to $25.00 an hour to someone else to free up an hour of time to do things that you enjoy.