I just arrived home from 4 days in San Francisco where I was teaching a workshop for creativeLIVE. I spent 3 full days guiding nearly 10,000 people through the underlying strategy behind guiding your business from your customers’ perspective, pricing your work for maximum growth and sustainability, and selling more. It’s been the best experience of my working life to date!

While I offered many practical and actionable ideas, I spent more time–as per usual–offering the why and what for than you’ll find in most business training online.

The reason is that I find way too many business owners getting bogged down in “supposed to’s” and “shoulds.” They’re drowning in all the easy-as-1-2-3’s that are out there masquerading as good business advice.

Knowing the why behind ideas and tactics means that you can make the best decision for what’s right for your business.

You feel less overwhelmed, less bogged down, and you end up asking less “How can I fit this in?” questions. You have better tools to organize your work, make decisions, and prioritize initiatives. That puts you in the position of CEO more often than mail room clerk.

You see, there are 3 kinds of work. And you as a business owner need to be constantly working to do less of two of those kinds of work.

First, there’s work that gets immediate results. It might be delivering the service you provide or creating the product you sell. It could be writing on your blog or updating product descriptions. It could be ordering supplies or promoting your work.

Second, there’s work that should be done by someone else. This varies depending on your business and your strengths within that business. It could be fiddling with your website, sending out emails, or scheduling clients. It could be writing copy or creating advertisements. It could be shipping packages or bookkeeping.

Third, there’s the work that contributes to long-term growth. Often this is work that requires your expertise but that isn’t the hands-on work that you sell. It’s systems work. It’s process work. It’s relationship-building. It’s working on the vision (and the byproducts of it).

You probably do a lot of the first and second kind of work. You are constantly after immediate results (they feel good, right?) because immediate results are better than no results. And you do a lot of work that you really have no business doing because you have chosen not to invest the time or money in having someone else do it.

That means that the work that contributes to long-term growth gets the short shrift. When you don’t work towards the future, you leave yourself in the hamster wheel of constant hustling. Sound familiar?

…while you’re doing it, doing it, doing it, there’s something much more important that isn’t getting done. And it’s the work you’re not doing, the strategic work, the entrepreneurial work, that will lead your business forward, that will give you the life you’ve not yet known.
– Michael E Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited

If you’re beginning to lose faith in the dream of having a business that takes care of you (instead of you taking care of it) and really becoming the Chief Executive of your enterprise, then it’s probably because you find yourself doing so much of the first two categories of work. When that type of work is disproportionate to the results you see, frustration is the natural byproduct.

When you exercise your responsibility to long-term growth work, even if you’re not seeing immediate results, you can better weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. If a particular idea doesn’t work out, you have the systems or relationships in place to get you through. Or you have the comfort of knowing your next idea or opportunity is already in the works.

If you’re ready to do more long-term growth work and less of the rest, you need to schedule it. Put it on the calendar. Honor it like it was a client appointment or a project deadline. This is the work that will keep your business in business – respect it.

Once you’ve got that kind of work on the calendar, make sure that you’re creating systems that reduce the amount of other work you’re doing. Use your scheduled time to create a training or on-boarding process for an assistant or business manager. Also use that time to plan for new products or services that require less effort or active time from you. Plan to shift your business model to one that leverages your time & talents.

Bottom line: how would you spend your time if doing work that contributed to long-term business growth was your primary responsibility?

‘Cause it is. Tell me in the comments.


For the last year, I’ve been nurturing a community of business owners in Kick Start Labs. Membership has been closed for 6 months now but the doors are about to open for new members again soon. Members get access to all the business training I’ve created to date plus monthly Q&A calls with me, and more. Keep your eyes out for when membership is open again.