Biz Owner Conundrum: Working ON the business or IN the business

Ryan Buchanan
Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Everybody always wants something from you. And, it’s amazing how many people come out of the woodwork to give you advice…on everything. As a business owner, I’ve often received advice from consultants to work ON your business (planning, goal-setting, long-term vision, reinforcing company values), not IN your business (sales, day-to-day operations, weekly 1:1 w/ staff, account relationships, doing any billable work). My experience is that it’s an absolute DISASTER to do only one or the other. This post looks specifically through our own sales + marketing lens about when a business owner should work ON his/her biz and when to work IN his/her biz – when to do planning and when to hit the pavement to do some real selling.

Working ON the business: Creating a Marketing+Sales Plan – a real one, not half-assed

We spent 9 months to birth an in-depth Marketing and Sales Plan with 5 different deliverables –

  1. Marketing Channels Assessment + Recommendations: gathering insights across our web, email, social analytics, asking the hard questions of our clients, and scrutinizing our approach across all of our digital properties and events
  2. Client journey mapping + sales process
  3. Social media + thought leadership
  4. Email + events + PR
  5. Marketing + Sales planning execution: Marketing calendar

This a distilled presentation of the 5 planning deliverables that gets across the key message and is only 50 slides instead of a cumulative 250 slides in their entirety. Back to the conundrum at hand…If I were to only spend my time digging deep into planning and completely disengage in building relationships with existing + new clients, eROI would feel a significant financial strain before long. There is a yin and yang, a Tango and Cash, a Mr. Rourke and Tattoo, or in simple terms, a balance to Planning and Doing. It’s critical to leverage your unique abilities among your Executive team + key players to reach that balance collectively.

Working IN the business: Execution

Through our planning efforts, it became abundantly clear that we needed to hire a Marketing+Sales Coordinator to help me as business owner and head of sales as well as our Pitch Team to organize our marketing execution and sales outreach and create better discipline to our follow up + sales nurturing. On Oct 1, 2014 – our M+S Coordinator started and we’re full steam ahead executing on our plan. Design Week Portland was a huge success where we hosted 6 events in 5 days under the theme Mortality of Design. Now, the next big test is how to continue to build on our positive momentum with lots of little day to day wins. The key conundrum now is that I just need to figure out if I’m more like Tango or more like Cash…

Ryan Buchanan
Ryan Buchanan, CEO at eROI.