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Working on your business versus working in your business

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Fiona Rollings

April 2019

Going back to the Q&A with the members who were awarded TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards it struck me that even in the peak season these members still worked on their businesses as well as working in them.

Working in your business is “spending time” doing the things you have to do each day (breakfast, laundry, etc); it is focused on achieving results for your guests and could even be considered reactive.

Working on your business means you are “investing time” to make your business better than it is today – working for the future; achieving results for you and your guests; a proactive approach.

As small business owners we have to work both in our businesses and on our businesses to succeed and this isn’t always as easy as it seems. Many of us are tempted to only focus on our businesses in the quiet times. I thought it noticeable that the Traveller’s Choice Award winners all took time out during the busy periods to work on their businesses - ensuring guests received followup emails after their stay.

Working in your business is doing all the daily work that generates income for your business such as meeting guests, ordering supplies, paperwork and invoicing, cleaning, cooking etc. For us B&B owners, working in your business requires a level of proficiency in a large range of skills. It can also be busy, demanding and tiring.

Working on our business forces us to assess what we do, how we do it and whether it is necessary. It includes learning about new technology, marketing our businesses (either on OTAs or to travel agents), keeping up with new trends in the accommodation industry, updating property photos, attending industry updates, etc. For many of us it is very tempting to put this type of work into the too hard basket – or leave it until we are no longer busy.

When you are working in your business it is hard to see out of it – to try and work towards what you want to achieve and your goals.

When you are working on your business you gather all the relevant information around and look at your business to see where you are, where you are heading and what, if anything, you need to change.

Entering the Association’s Excellence Awards is a great example of working on your business. By focussing on a process and your business you see what you have achieved and how you are progressing towards to your goals. Not only does your business benefit from the additional focus on it but there is also the potential to win an endorsement from the Association for you and your business going into next year’s season.

The Travel Trade afternoon (for those members who are assessed) and Conference are also great opportunities to work on your business – networking, learning, building relationships, meeting suppliers, etc.

But these events all require a commitment to be made in the busy season – ie. taking the time to work on your business even when it is busy.

Working in your business is important – it is, afterall, what is paying the bills today and cannot be neglected. But working on your business now is equally as important – it provides the backbone of your business, streamlining it and pointing it towards future success – namely more guests next year!

Fiona Rollings

April 2019

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