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Working “On” or “In” Your Business

Pulling out hair

“On” or “In” Your Business

The first three years I was licensed in Real Estate, I was coached by Joe Stumpf of By Referral Only. One of the principals Joe teaches is taking time to work “ON YOUR BUSINESS” and not just “IN YOUR BUSINESS.

Working on your business is when you are doing pro-active things to enhance and grow your business. Working on your business is doing the tasks that will bring in new business and help us systematize so they we can continue to grow. One of the ways Joe teaches to do this is to take one day a week or a minimum of 1/2 day a week to set aside time to do this.

Working “in your business” is when you are taking listings, writing offers, negotiating sales, inspections, fielding phone calls, following up leads, speaking with clients or lenders. You know the hundreds of tasks we do to get to the closing table.

Blogging, and social networking is working “on the business”. I blog so I can reach out to consumers, teach others new technology or just communicate with other folks in my industry.

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Take a Vacation

The last several weeks has been a “in the business” time. (Overwhelming actually). One of my top team members, a buyer agent moved and I have had to finish up with her buyers. A “short sale” approved that we had been waiting on since June 3rd, a forclosure finally uploaded all the documents, two pre-listing appointments, two offers on my listings came in, (one a short sale, so more paper work to the bank), two new listings up which includes the VT’s, and all we do to get our clients homes sold.

Oh, did I say my assistant is on vacation? This week?

Did I say I’ve had relatives in from D.C. ? This week?

Want more business, go on a vacation, send your assistant on one. Go to a conference…

First Things First

In Michigan our market is seasonal. We sell the most homes between March to August.

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Can I say I long for the snow? Well I won’t go that far, but I do long to be back, “working on the business”. My brain is mush, I don’t have a creative thought in it right now.

As my Pastor says, “and that is a slice of my life.”

What’s happening in your slice of life? Working “on” or “in”?

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Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Peggy Gist

    August 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I hear you loud and clear. Right now I am working on business. The company I worked with closed its doors and “sold” us to another agency. It has been heart wrenching, nerve racking and down right unbelievable to make this change. I never did it before and I never want to go through this again. It is worse than starting over (I think) and their is just soooo much to change. How does anyone get through this? Suggestions are welcome. I think I will go on vacation and just see what happens!!!!

  2. Paula Henry

    August 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Missy –

    It’s funny how when we need to work on our business, so much business comes in we work in our business. Finding balance is overwhelmingly difficult right now – but I am happy to have the business to work”in”.

  3. MIssy Caulk

    August 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Peggy I went through the same thing in July 05. Hardest thing I ever went through…being sold.
    I know how you feel, it is terrible.

    Paula, laughing so true. I am happy too, just overwhelmed this week. I leave Tuesday for my son’s wedding in Tn and that should be fun, with my assistant still gone and a short sale contract to submit.

  4. Sam Ingersoll

    August 8, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve tried to stop taking any client jobs to ensure my internet marketing, websites, CRM, billing software, email campaigns, etc…etc…are in place.

    If I take clients before my systems are in place I only end up losing time and money.

    I set up systems for Realtors who don’t have time to work “on” their business – even named my company q2 Results (after 7 Habits – Quadrant principles) – but have had trouble doing this myself.

    Right now we’re working on using the Listing Press WordPress Plugin to integrate IDX listings into wordpress blog and are being contacted all the time for it – BUT I don’t want to sell it until it is ready. It’s hard to turn down cash in favor of boring systems work….but necessary for now.

  5. Linsey

    August 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Boy do I relate. I feel like the last couple months I’ve spent so much time working ‘in’ the business and I know that there are things that are neglected (my poor blog). And although I understand that failing to work ‘on’ it will ultimately impact me – I’ve been spread a bit thin. I know better, so this week I’m going to really get back to some of my systems.

  6. Missy Caulk

    August 10, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Lindsay, “my poor blog” too.

  7. Joe Loomer

    August 10, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Wow – your post and the comments hit me right to the core. Four of the last six weeks we’ve had family in from England, and school started today here in Augusta. Hectic, hectic, hectic. On top of that I have a client looking to be in the country – drove 127 miles Saturday to show TWO houses. Did I mention gas isn’t too bad here? Just $2.58 a gallon…. “In” my business indeed….

    Then I read Peggy’s comment and go into flashback mode. Same thing happened to my wife and I in January of ’08. As a result of that sale – I’m here commenting on AG, working ON my business.

    @Peggy – things happen for a reason – find the silver lining in this move and you’ll realize you’re where you’re supposed to be!

    @Missy – this post – one you seem to infer is a quick dash of the pen to get something out there because you’ve been so busy – is one of your best yet! In-a-nutshell snapshot of the life of the busy agent, candid, quick, and educational. Best of all – makes one focus – perhaps generating an “Oh crap, I need to……..”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  8. Matt Stigliano

    August 10, 2009 at 10:17 am

    @MissyCaulk As someone who has a lot of reason to build his business as things have been picking up around here, I find I have to make a lot of time for both. Although I know that we all need to take time for ourselves and relax a bit, these past few weeks since my move have been dedicated to pushing myself so that the next few months go great for me. It’s working! I am working in and on. Once the ball is really rolling, I might slow down a bit and adapt some new ways to do both without working as long each day…until then, I’ll keep working hard!

  9. Jessica Eballar

    August 10, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Many professionals don’t even realize that they are doing work to do their work and all of a sudden they feel overwhelmed, wondering why they aren’t getting the results they were anticipating.

    @Sam Ingersoll Our Bill4Time trial users also voice out the same concern as yours. Battling the learning curve for a new piece of software while you’re doing your normal course of business can be challenging. I’d suggest applying a single client/project to the software. Once you get the hang of it, transfer your clients/projects one at a time at your own pace. This should help with the transition. Also, make use of all the tutorial videos and free technical support they provide. You shouldn’t have to learn it alone.

  10. Sheldon Neal - ThatBritishAgent

    August 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Hi Missy !

    I have been avidly working ‘on’ my business with the blogging, network and web attention I have been doing, and it’s certainly helped generate a stedier stream of business than in past years.

    … but I struggle with the vacation thing !!!!

    Hope you are well (and enjoying the lead up to the wedding !!!!)

    Cheers !


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