Working on your business, not just in it: the path to sustainable growth


As a business owner, you've likely experienced the daily grind of running your enterprise – dealing with operations, managing employees and handling countless tasks that seem to keep you busy from sunrise to sunset. While these day-to-day responsibilities are essential for keeping the wheels turning, they can sometimes distract you from the bigger picture.

The concept of "working on your business, not in it" was popularised by American author and business consultant Michael E Gerber. It emphasises the importance of taking a step back from daily operations and dedicating time to strategic planning, process improvement, and long-term growth and I have witnessed firsthand the transformational impact this approach can have on businesses of all sizes.

Working ON vs working IN your business

Working in your business involves the day-to-day tasks and activities necessary to keep your business running smoothly. It encompasses everything from managing operations, serving customers, handling administrative duties and ensuring the overall efficiency of the organisation.

On the other hand, working on your business focuses on the larger strategic aspects. It includes activities such as setting long-term goals, devising growth strategies, optimising processes and building a strong foundation for sustained success.

Both approaches are essential, but striking the right balance is the key to unlocking your business's true potential.

Are you trapped working in your business?

Many business owners find themselves stuck in the never-ending loop of working in their businesses. The operational demands can be overwhelming, leaving little time for proactive planning and strategic thinking and can lead to:

  • Lack of vision: Without dedicating time to work on your business, you may lose sight of your long-term vision and objectives. As a result, your business could veer off course and fail to reach its full potential.
  • Missed opportunities: Focusing solely on the day-to-day activities can cause you to miss out on opportunities for growth and improvement. Innovation and expansion often require careful planning and strategic decision-making.
  • Burnout: Constantly working in your business can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Burnout can lead to decreased productivity, increased stress levels, and ultimately, a negative impact on your business's performance.

What are the benefits of working on your business?

When you allocate time and resources to work on your business and not just in it, you create a foundation for sustainable growth, improved efficiency and long-term success. The benefits include:

  • Strategic focus: Allows you to align your actions with your long-term goals and enables you to develop a clear roadmap for achieving success and staying ahead of the competition.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness: By analysing and optimising your processes, you can streamline operations, reduce waste and improve overall efficiency. This can lead to cost savings and increased profitability.
  • Innovation and adaptation: Staying in touch with the bigger picture enables you to identify market trends and seize new opportunities. You can innovate and adapt your business to meet changing customer needs and preferences.

Role of an accounting business adviser

Our role is to help you transition from working solely in your business to incorporating a healthy balance of working on it as well.

We can provide you with valuable financial insights and reports that help you understand your business's financial health, which is vital for making informed strategic decisions, and with careful budgeting and financial forecasting you can set realistic financial goals and measure your progress toward achieving them.

By implementing modern accounting software and technology you can streamline your financial processes, freeing up more time for strategic planning.

Meanwhile, optimising your tax strategy, can help you minimise tax liabilities, freeing up resources to invest in growth initiatives.

Armstrong Watson can also offer strategic guidance on expansion, mergers, acquisitions and other business decisions to help you achieve your long-term objectives.


It is vital to embrace the concept of working on your business, not just in it. For more information and advice about the right balance for you, please get in touch.

Contact us

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