Working on Your Business Instead of Just in Your Business

I have a friend who owns a busy photography business; a very busy photography business. Not only does he have a popular portrait studio, but because he is a good marketer and a master schmoozer, he also has a very hectic wedding photography schedule. Between the two, he often works seven days a week.

That was not the plan. He started out after college apprenticing with an architectural photographer. Often working 10 hour days, his job was to lug around all of the heavy equipment and set it up. After several years of this, and longing to do his own art, my buddy ventured off on his own.

Now he longs for the days when 10 hours a day was all he had to do.

The problem for my friend is two-fold. First, he didn’t really create a business for himself, he created a job. And it’s not a very good job. It’s a demanding job. And he has a bad boss to boot who makes him work insane hours.

The second problem is a little trickier. Our photographer has fallen into the trap explained by Michael Gerber in his great book, The E-Myth. My friend spends too much time working in his business and not enough time working on his business.

What do we mean by that?

It is easy for any of us to fall into the trap of spending too much time doing the “technical” thing associated with our business – whether it is shooting photographs, baking bread, or writing articles. That is called working in our business. It usually leads to stagnation and overworking.

Instead, what Gerber suggests is the smarter use of our time, is to work on our business: Spend time growing it, not doing it. Create systems that allow others to do the technical part. Spend your time instead on growth. Use tools to free you up to spend your time more wisely. Network. Market and advertise. Dream and plan.

In the case of my friend, both of his issues will be fairly easily solved once he starts to look at his business this way. Yes, he still has to shoot the portraits, but he can also hire other people to help with that. He can train them in his techniques. He can make a guest appearance at the weddings when necessary and have a less expensive assistant shoot the event.

Doing so will free him up and give him time to 1) work on his business and grow it less hectically, and 2) have some fun and free time.

Ironically, working on your business can make a huge difference in your business.

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