Are you too busy working ‘in’ your business not ‘on’ your business?

working in your business

Are you too busy working ‘in’ your business not ‘on’ your business?

Starting your own business is a whole different ball game. As you’re no longer working for someone else and it’s up to you to execute on your vision, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind when you instead need to be thinking large.

That’s why CommBank started their original business podcast, Leave Nothing to Chance. The podcast features comedian Yianni Agisilaou, who chats with successful business owners on starting, running and growing a business. They’ve been there, done that and lived to tell the tale. Here are the main lessons we have discovered from the series so far:

1. Listen to feedback

Getting not-so-positive feedback on your business – a.k.a. your baby – can often feel brutal. The thing is: it’s very easy to get caught up in your own vision and miss something important that only new eyes will catch.

“… Real-time feedback on something you’ve poured your heart and soul into … it’s crushing,” says Edwina Sharrock, founder of antenatal education platform Birth Beat. “But it’s also quite educational.”

Make sure you find that essential balance between listening openly to feedback and staying true to your business purpose.

2. Learn to delegate

It might be fine to control all areas yourself when you’re just starting out but if you want your business to continue growing, you must learn to delegate.

“I think as a business owner you can get very stuck working in the business and not on the business if you don’t have enough time,” explains Alex Adams, who runs Secret Foodies and Eat, Drink Play.

“When you’re in the business you’re replying to every single email, you’re doing every order … You are the business,” Adams adds.

“Bringing other people [in] and growing the business meant that I could have more time … to work on the business and be a little bit more strategic about the direction where we’re heading.”

3. Find your competitive advantage

It should come as no surprise that the very thing that makes your business unique is what will make it a success.

Catherine Hyde of renovation project management company Space Agent says that finding what is unique to your business is crucial to success.

“… When I researched it there was just this huge gap in the market, there was nobody that does what the Space Agent does,” Hyde says, “Because I am not classed as an interior stylist or, I don’t categorise, I don’t pigeon hole myself into those categories.”

“I’ve got that much broader offerings, so I walk in and I say, I do x, y and z. Whereas a builder will probably just do x.”

Find what sets you apart and use it to your advantage.

4. Be disciplined with your finances

You wouldn’t spend outside your means in your personal finances, and you shouldn’t be doing it when starting a business either. Use business tools, make graphs or do whatever you need to do to keep a regular and detailed eye on your expenditure.

Lydia Sedrak, the managing director of Lighthouse Childcare, says that you can always get some outside help to track your financial situation.

“I’ve got an internal bookkeeper as well, that helps,” she says, “She works part-time, so you don’t have to be a high-flying big executive to have a bookkeeper.”

5. Stick to a business plan

A lot of business ideas evolve from a personal passion. Once you start putting your plans into action, you’ll start getting a lot of compliments and ideas from friends, family and other people in your industry.

All of this is great, as is the concept of following your gut, but it’s important to set out a real business plan and stick to it, rather than acting on impulse.

“As much as you love doing something, if you’re not getting the return on it and it’s taking you away from your other business, it’s actually costing you money…” explains Daniela Riccio of Boutique PR, “At a certain point I looked at it and thought okay we need to be serious about this.”

6. Be driven by more than money

It’s totally OK to be a person who is driven by money, however, it’s going to take a little more than that to make a successful business.

“I think in business you’ve got to be fascinated, you’ve got to be interested in the business,” says Stephen Dyer from Clay Cups,  a new business that is trying to make sustainability a staple of café culture. “… it’s a bit trite, but if you enjoy what you do you’ll never work a day in your life and that is absolutely true.”

Sylvana Mahmic from not for profit organisation Plumtree agrees.

“…It’s that sort of passion and sort of drive to respond to what’s happening around you that I guess that’s helped us to develop a new business,” she adds.

Certificate III in Micro Business Operations

Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business

First published on Business Insider at

Skip to content