"Work on the business, not in the business” is a business saying that was probably coined by Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth series of books about business entrepreneurship. Gerber argues that an entrepreneur must work on his or her business in the marketplace, and not simply spend time working in the business.
“The point is to work on the business, not in the business” has been cited in print since at least 1995.
Wikipedia: Michael E. Gerber (non-fiction writer
Michael E. Gerber (born June 20, 1936) is an American author and founder of Michael E. Gerber Companies, a business skills training company based in Carlsbad, California.
The E-Myth (1986) ASIN B004KIC420
Power Point (1992) ISBN 978-0-88730-536-8
The E-Myth Revisited (1995) ISBN 978-0-88730-728-7
The E-Myth Manager (1998) ISBN 978-0-88730-959-5
The Jensen Group—Book Reviews
The E-Myth Revisited:
Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It
Michael E. Gerber
New York: HarperCollins/HarperBusiness ©1995
Gerber makes the case that knowing the technical aspects of the business becomes its greatest liability, that by not knowing them, entrepreneurs are forced to learn how to make a business run, not to do the work of the business themselves.
Therein lies the message: in order to succeed, owners must work on the business, not in the business.
23 March 1995, San Jose (CA) Mercury News, “Entrepreneur says you can profit from his failure,” pg. 1C:
The point is to work on the business, not in the business.
(Michael E. Gerber, chairman of Petaluma-based Gerber Business Development Corp.—ed.)
Bread and Butter:
What a Bunch of Bakers Taught Me About Business and Happiness
By Tom McMakin
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
As Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth, puts it, the goal is to “work on the business, not just in the business.” Focusing on systems, however, is difficult, harder than blaming your people for making mistakes.
22 July 2001, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “10 pieces of advice to succeed in business”:
Work on the business, not just in the business. Many people are so busy doing the business that they don’t have time to improve it.
It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small...It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow:
How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business
By Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton
New York, NY: HarperBusiness
Starting to work on the business, not in the business.
Points of Productivity:
Turning Corporate Pain to Gain
By Phillip G. Perkins
Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse
Managers and owners generally have a skewed view of the issues, problems and opportunities that pop up each business day. If they follow the rules set forth by other business writers they “work on the business, not in the business.”