Let’s talk about the difference between working ON your business and working IN your business. If you don’t know the difference this episode is for you!

In this episode, I lay out examples of what tasks fall into each of these categories and share some advice that, at first glance, may seem counterintuitive. I outline the differences, demystify them, and share why it matters that you do both strategically.

If you want to elevate your interior design business, services, and team to find and serve your clients more efficiently, you must take the time and energy to build the foundation instead of just going through the day-to-day hustle.

Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Hey, hey, hey, it’s Rebecca and you are listening to Resilient by Design. Today is a quick short episode all about how to find the time to work on your business. I recently hopped onto Instagram stories. I kind of got a little preachy and I started sharing about the fact that you are only going to see progress In your business, in the growth, in the types of projects you get to take on, in the incredible clients that are waiting and looking for you, if you actually spend the time to work on your business versus in your business.

So first of all, let me just share what is the difference, what the frick am I talking about? Working on versus inside your business. Here we go. When you are working inside your business, you are doing all of the things to serve your clients. You are, as an interior designer, you are likely outsourcing fabrics, sourcing tiles, sourcing lighting, sourcing furniture, sourcing flooring.

You’re probably meeting vendors, meeting clients, going to site, troubleshooting issues. You might be working on AutoCAD drawings, doing renderings. You might be doing a lunch and learn. You might be doing all the things, all the things that is the operations of your business. It’s delivering your service.

It is whatever that service or product, if you offer product is that you either create or resell, You’re working on that. That is being in your business. You are in your business and you’re responding to things that are happening in real time. You are creating, you’re creative, and you are communicating with clients that is being in your business.

Obviously, that is the first place we all wanna be, because let’s face it, if you are not in your business, it’s hard to make money, right? Until you start to hire and outsource and scale. I digress. The difference between. Working inside your business and working on your business is that working on your business is different tasks.

It is tasks that involve professional development, business development. Working on your business includes things like reconciling the books every month, looking at your profit margin, creating backend systems and processes like setting up on a sauna board, creating internal So SOPs, revamping your website, looking at your web copy, paying attention to SEO, perhaps looking at the marketing, creating a marketing plan, reaching out to potential contacts like realtors or builders or contractors or trades or family, friends, or, or, or it is things like sitting down and doing the work.

To make sure things are running smoothly on the backend, it could also involve hiring, putting together a list of the traits that you’re looking for in a person, or what are the tasks that you need help with then reaching out on LinkedIn, posting it on one of the platforms, posting it on Instagram, hosting interviews, getting that person onboarded.

That is working on your business. Hopefully by now you can see the difference. I think I gave you a bunch of tasks to help outline what those differences are. And here is the deal. So now that you understand the differences, let’s talk about why it matters and why do you need to do both? So the deal is that when you start running a business, really any design firm, any firm, any creative business, it really doesn’t matter.

You are so focused on delivering a product. Your service, you’re so focused on the product, the delivery and the client, which is amazing. And that’s where you should be. The problem is if you get too caught up in doing that, you never take the time to work on your business. You never take the time to actually craft out those systems and processes.

You never take time to consider your marketing plan. You never take time to really look at. How are we profitable? How many hours went into that project and what’s my profit margin? How do I set up a forecast? You never take time to think about, okay, maybe I should prepare a shot list to schedule a photo shoot and then pitch it to publication.

That is the type of task and the work that is going to help move the needle and help you grow. If you are constantly in this hamster wheel of continuing and responding and responding, responding, responding, responding. You are not giving yourself the time and the freedom to take a step back, look at the big picture and tackle the less sexy tasks, the things that actually are going to move the needle slower.

So it may feel counterintuitive, right? Why would I pause and take half a day on Friday to review the numbers and profitability in my business when I need to finish selecting fabric for my presentation next week. Look, I get it. That was me in the very beginning. That was me for actually more than just the beginning.

For many years. Even to this day, I struggle internally with the pull to do the immediate, the urgent, versus The things that I know are foundational and I need to do and improve inside my business. It is a balance. I’m not saying give up working inside your business, hire a bunch of people and just do the business development.

If that’s what you want to do. Awesome. But consider this. Any business that started with capital, let’s say somebody is in like Silicon Valley and they are fundraising and they are getting money and they’ve got an idea and they start a business. Most of the time, those people actually don’t deliver the service or product.

They are literally a person at the top who has money. Who then finds out who all the people are going to be. And then they work strategically on the business development and the business succeeds. We are looking at it from a totally different angle. We are the tradesperson. We are the craftsmen. We are the people who have the skill and the knowledge, and we’re the ones delivering the service.

So sometimes we have to take off that hat and put on The owner hat, the CEO hat to work on the business. When you start working on your business, even just for a tiny little bit, it can make a big difference. So now you know what the difference is. Now you know why you need it. And I’ll just add for the Y part of why.

I recommend you work on your business and not in it is that if you want this to be a business and not a hobby, like if you’re treating it like a hobby and you’re just doing this for fun, first of all, you’re probably not listening to this podcast. Let’s be honest because this podcast is business advice business.

But if you’re treating it like a hobby, It’s going to be really hard to get out of the chaotic cycle of just serving projects and responding to emails and going, going, going. If you want to either elevate the type of project you work on or grow a team or elevate your name and brand in your city or in the industry, then you need to work harder.

on your business. It’s not until you take time and you take a step back that you can really flush out how you serve that you can better serve those clients to get better clients and projects that you will actually have some marketing initiatives in place so that you can get featured and you can elevate in the industry.

It’s when you can finally sit down and look at the numbers and figure out, can I hire, do I want to grow and scale my team? If this is you and you understand the difference, you understand why it’s important.

You might be feeling like, I get it, Rebecca, but I don’t have time. This is where my hard truth is coming in. I recommend that you set aside a portion of time every week. When you first start doing this, it’s going to look a little different. I know that when I first started trying to work on my business, I would say, I’m going to work on it Friday mornings.

But let’s face it, by Friday, I was either tired or Or I was hungover or I had so many other things that I hadn’t done yet for the week that I felt like I needed to knock them out before the end of the week that more often than not that time got pushed aside and it kept getting deferred. I would slowly start and maybe every few weeks or every month I would put in a few hours and that’s how it began.

So I want you to know this is not an all-or-nothing approach. Sometimes these things take time and I can tell you that when I finally had. Time to work on my business really was when I had hires, not set, not necessarily full-time employees, but I would have a contractor, a freelancer. I had somebody helping me in assistant and intern because what I was able to start to hire and grow, it actually gave me a bit more time.

That said, you can still find the time. I recommend you start with one hour a week. If you’re feeling like this is overwhelming, I know I need to work on my business, but all I can really muster is an hour. Pick an hour. Ideally. I’d say half a day, if you can, because if you haven’t done any work on your business, there’s probably a lot you need to do, but start with an hour, get it in the calendar, schedule it.

My time now is on Monday. Friday’s just wasn’t working for me. I kept thinking Friday would be a great day. Cause like everyone’s heading out for the weekend, but because everyone’s heading out for the weekend, there’s so much I need to wrap up. Like today, for example. Bye. It’s a Friday and I’m recording this shorty episode.

I have four shorty episodes to record today because I batch work everything. And that’s my time management system. And I’ll share that maybe in another episode, but essentially I’m here recording these four shorty episodes. Cause I ran out of time the day I was supposed to do them. And I’m like, shoot.

They, they need to be done by the end of this week. And so if I had left Friday as my business development day, it would probably get pushed. But instead I started my week with business development and so there was nothing that could really creep in and I feel more relaxed knowing that I still have the rest of the week to do the work, to get the quotes for the revisions that I’ve got happening next week with our client project, to do the recordings for the shorty episodes or what have you pick one hour a week.

Start with a bite-size, little bit. What can you do? Is there a podcast episode that you’ve heard that maybe you’re like, you’ve earmarked it for later and you want to go back to it and do the exercises that I recommend in the podcast? If so, schedule that in next Monday, next Wednesday morning. When is your time to work on your business?

What are you going to do? Because if you just set aside a time block and you show up, And you don’t know what you’re going to work on, you’re going to spend half the time trying to figure out what it is you need to do. Also, try not to overschedule yourself. That’s the whole opposite end of things. That is it.

That is leading me to the next point. This summer I decided because we have time, right? We have time to work on our business. The biggest mistake people make is when things get slow or when things get busy, they stop working on their business. So even if you’re someone who has the best of intentions and like you’ve been working on your business, it all of a sudden gets busy and you stop working on your business.

And what happens is if you get too busy or you take too much time off. The working on your business, your efforts start to dwindle and then the pipeline isn’t filling and then you get back to work in September and you’re like, where are all my projects? Oh my gosh, I was so busy in the spring and then I was too tired in the summer that I haven’t done any marketing initiatives or I haven’t done the update to my website or I haven’t done those what to expect documents, those PDFs to send my clients, or I haven’t figured out my discovery call script, whatever it is.

So. Be the business owner that makes that mistake. Stay consistent with your efforts. This way, you can have a consistent pipeline. This way you can consistently bit by bit grow your business. So I say you take one hour. The summertime is a really great time to just start bite sized. I hope you find time this summer to relax, be with your families, but also spend a little bit of time working on your business.

It’s going to pay off in dividends. That’s it. I hope you enjoyed this shortie episode. I’ll see you soon.