July 9, 2024

Working on your business versus in your business

By Guest Contributer

By Dr. Jonathan Baktari, MD, CEO of US Drug Test Centers

Every successful entrepreneur has to start somewhere. If you’re a business owner, then maybe you can remember wearing all the hats in the very beginning, when you were first getting your company off the ground. You might’ve managed sales, marketing, finance, and beyond, mostly by yourself.

However, this is not sustainable, let alone scalable. This is why it’s important to understand the difference between working on your business and working in your business — and which one should be your ultimate priority as a business owner.

When I talk about working in your business, I’m mostly referring to the tasks required for day-to-day operations. Think of these as your business’s basic functions.

Examples can include managing your company’s marketing by posting on your Facebook page, sending email blasts, conducting product demos, and other day-to-day responsibilities.

This is an important time for your company. Understanding these various roles and responsibilities means that when the time comes, it’s going to be easier for you to hire the right people to take over. You’re going to have invaluable, firsthand experience.

You won’t know what to look for in candidates if you don’t know what that job entails.

To work on your business means that you hire other people to manage the day-to-day operations while you focus on the big picture. For instance, you might be researching future opportunities that could be profitable for your company, finding new investors, or meeting with potential new partners.

With employees or contractors handling the day-to-day functions that keep the lights on and the business running, you, the entrepreneur, have more room to find business opportunities that will ideally equate to significant growth.

This is where you will really be able to shine as an entrepreneur. You have a huge part in determining whether the business falls or soars to new heights.

It’s the job of the employees to handle the day-to-day matters — not the entrepreneur — and this is a key distinction that separates successful entrepreneurs from ones who will flounder.

But why?

One of the biggest things to remember is that nobody will ever know your business as well as you do. You are the only person who truly has the vision, the perspective, the ideal outcome in mind. This is what you need to focus on: ensuring that your business grows.

You can’t possibly do that if you’re also trying to handle administrative tasks and other responsibilities that you can hire other people to deal with. And remember, those folks are relying on you to give them a target to hit. They might be executing those daily tasks I mentioned a moment ago, but you’re at the helm, sharing your overall business strategy so that they can ultimately do their jobs better.

By focusing on the business, the entrepreneur plays a paramount role for those who are busy in the business.

For many people, a business idea starts with a passion. For instance, someone might love baking, so they decide to open a bakery.

However, this leads to a very warped idea of what it means to run a business: Loving baking and being great at it does not mean you’re going to love running a business and be great at it.

The two are completely different things, and this might very well be one of the toughest hurdles you have to overcome as you begin setting up your business. Running that bakery is going to be nothing like baking because you must start focusing on much bigger things.

Remember, in the beginning, it’s normal to work in the business. After all, you might be your company’s only employee! This means your to-do list might include posting on TikTok, consistently creating new blog content, and capturing opportunities to source new leads.

However, as your revenue climbs, your business will demand that you shift to working on the business, or it’s going to fail.

Thus, if your idea for a new company has been ignited by something you love doing, ask yourself this: Are you prepared to shelve doing that thing you love to run the business? This is the next stage in growing your company. If the answer is no, then entrepreneurship might not be the right path for you (and that’s okay!).

What if you’re that baker I mentioned, and while you do want to run a company, you still really want to bake? Can you do both?

Well, yes, but that’s not to say it would be easy — or advantageous.

Let’s say you put 40 hours a week into your business (although I know many entrepreneurs work a lot more). Is it really that bad if you designate one of those hours to bake a cake? Will your business crumble? Will the cake crumble?

Probably not, but that’s assuming you still spend the vast majority of your time on the business.

You can still make room for the stuff that brings you joy, but excellent time management skills and, importantly, keeping the bigger picture in mind are crucial if you want to become an entrepreneur and see your business succeed.

As I’ve grown US Drug Test Centers over the years, I’ve ushered it through several stages (with the help of my incredible team, of course). These days, we have accounting teams who handle our finances, office teams answering the phones and providing customer support, and other knowledgeable professionals who manage the day-to-day smoothly and efficiently.

While they’re doing that, I’m working on value expansion, growing into new markets, and creating an environment where my team can do their very best work and have a real impact.

That is why we care about the difference between working on and in your business.

US Drug Test Centers is an NDASA Preferred Provider. NDASA members have the opportunity to take advantage of a 10% discount on US Drug Test Centers’ “High Converting Call Class.” This business development course, led by USDTC CEO Jonathan Baktari, MD, is designed to help companies of all sizes convert phone calls into business opportunities. If you are starting a TPA business or expanding your current drug and alcohol testing business, this training will help you obtain up to 80% call conversion rates without sounding salesy. For more information, contact Calee Davis (866) 566-0261 / (702) 496-7622 /