How to work on your business not in your business

How to work on your business not in your business

03 November 2023

There exists a fundamental distinction between working ‘in’ the business and working ‘on’ the business, and it can separate thriving businesses from the rest. All too often, business owners find themselves immersed in the daily grind, diligently tending to the daily operations that keep the revenue flowing, they are working ‘in’ their business. Working ‘on’ your business, however, means focusing on the vision and the work you do for your business. This includes envisioning the future, developing strategies and plotting the path towards sustainable growth. As a business owner, it’s important to understand these distinctions and determine where your energy is best invested for long term success.  

AR Advisors Director Mark Giglia believes business owners need to be working ‘on’ their business, adopting a long-term view to achieve their goals. Mark states, ‘Owners and Directors are responsible for clarifying the vision and developing the strategies to drive the business forward. Hiring organisational leaders such as a CEO and CFO to run the day-to-day operations, allows them to extract themselves to spend time on creating and adjusting the business’s strategies and making big capital decisions that will propel the business towards success.’ 

5 ways to transition into working ‘on’ your business 

While it may be challenging to remove yourself from daily operations, working strategically on your business can ultimately lead to more significant growth and success. To make the transition a little easier, Mark suggests the following:  

  1. Set clear goals 
    As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to chart the course for your business’s future. What do you want to achieve in the next year? Five years? Ten years? You need to get clear on both your personal goals and your business goals because from an organisational level, these goals will drive the vision for your business. If you’re an owner that enjoys working in your business operationally and one of your personal goals is to continue in this role, then hire an experienced professional to take on the strategic role and business planning. You will still have the final say but they become responsible for delivering on the vision.  
  2. Evaluate your leadership team and hire the right people 
    One key aspect of transitioning from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ it is to evaluate your leadership team and ensure you have the right people in place. Organisational leaders such as the CEO and CFO play a crucial role in implementing your strategic vision. Operational leaders can help to manage the day-to-day operations and teams throughout your business. Often, business owners spend too much time at the operational level, which can hinder the growth of the business. It’s essential to have a strong leadership team in place and delegate responsibilities to them so you can focus on strategic decisions. 
  3. Delegate tasks
    Once you have solidified your leadership team and hired the right people, it's time to start delegating tasks. Identify tasks that can be handled by your staff and empower them to take on those responsibilities. This may require education, mentoring and training staff to complete these tasks to your standards. By delegating effectively, you free up your time to work on the strategic decisions that will drive growth.  
  4. Systemise your business processes 
    Creating systems and processes in your business can help automate many of the day-to-day tasks. This automation frees up your time to concentrate on more strategic initiatives. By systemising your operations, you streamline the workflow and ensure consistency, reducing the need for your direct involvement.  
  5. Seek help
    It’s crucial to recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed and not hesitate to seek help. Whether it’s seeking advice from mentors or industry experts or considering professional services, you don’t have to navigate the challenges of working on your business alone. Speak to us about setting up an advisory board to assist you with the strategic decision making and transition to just working on the business.  

Transitioning from working in your business to working on it is a fundamental shift that requires a strategic approach. By assembling the right team, delegating tasks and developing and automating processes, you can free up valuable time and resources to work on your vision. If you would like some advice on how to make the transition to work on your business, give us a call and ask about our Virtual CFO and Board Advice services. For more information call 9321 3362 or email  

Business Risk Assessment with AR Advisors 

If your business would like some help identifying key risk areas, we recommend taking our free Business Risk Survey. For help with strategic planning and risk management contact one of our advisors or visit our website to learn more about the Virtual CFO services we offer SMEs. 

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