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The Critical Difference Between Working On Your Business and In It

We have all heard the advice many times that to succeed in a big way you have to learn to work on your business and stop working in it. But what does that really mean, how do you do it and why is it so hard?

The Textbook Definition
First, you must have a clear understanding of the difference between working in and working on your real estate career. Working in your business covers all the things that you do to conduct real estate, it includes creating your marketing, handling calls, selling, showing, servicing, running, earning – you know, the seemingly endless “stuff” you have to do to get a sale closed.

Working on your business means taking a step back to look at how you do each thing and trying to figure out if there is a more effective way, order or system to do the things that have to get done in order to complete a transaction.

Don’t Slip Back Across the Line
It does not sound that hard and it really isn’t, but you do have to avoid some of the pitfalls that trap a lot of agents and prevent them from reaping the great rewards that come from mastering the art of working on their business. A lot of agents set aside some time to work on their business and they say, “Well, lets start at the beginning of the cycle – how do I attract clients through my marketing and advertising?”

They take a look at what they are doing and they say, “Wow, I can see some room for improvement,” and they instantly start working to improve their marketing materials. Suddenly, with out even being aware of it, they are back working in their business, not on it.

Think “Big Picture”
When you work on your business, you have to think strategically. Instead of thinking about how to improve your marketing, ask the following questions:

  • “What am I trying to accomplish with my marketing?”
  • “Is the marketing medium that I have selected the best way to communicate my message?”
  • “What are the alternatives?”

Through your thinking you come up with a written outline of the marketing strategy and reasoning behind that strategy. You will then follow this strategy when you go back to work in your business to actually create and improve your marketing materials.

Resist the natural urge to go directly from strategic planning to implementation. If you give into that urge, you will find that most of your time will get spent working in and not on your business. This sounds easy but forcing yourself to think through, evaluate, and then create a strategic guideline is hard work. When you are done you may feel like all you have accomplished is creating more work because now you have to implement this in your business.

Don’t Bite More Than You Can Chew
Another pitfall that ensnares a lot of agents is failing to break things down into manageable pieces to work on. One day they have the epiphany that they desperately need to systematize every aspect of their business if they truly want to do a large volume of business and still have a life. So they set aside a day to start the process and start thinking about every step of the process from beginning to end and how it all interrelates.

What they find is that they lay a plan for step 1 and then start on step 2 but realize that step 1 should be changed to support step 2 more effectively. So they redo it, and then they do step 3. But now step 2 needs to be reengineered to support 3 more effectively, which requires that they redesign step 1 again. About the forth time they redesign step 1 they are mentally exhausted. By this time, it seems so big and overwhelming to get it all done at once most people simply give up.

Prioritize Your Work
The best way to make progress is to start with one area that desperately needs to be strategically thought through and then implement it in your business. Then go back and create the strategic plan for the next piece and then the next. Once you have completed that process, you start over and redo the first piece that you did. This should be a never-ending process of refinement and improvement. If you ever find yourself saying, “everything is now perfect and cannot be improved,” you have stopped growing as a person.

The advantage is that once you start spending more of your time working on you business rather than in it, you can finally get your business and your life under control so that you will enjoy each day of your life and the journey that you are on. There is no shortcut to the process. You have to do it for yourself, but the rewards are huge.

I strongly recommend that you start by working at least 3 hours per week on strategic planning and eventually work yourself up to one full day per week. In addition, you should block one week, twice per year, to work on your business.