Working ON the Business vs IN the Business



One of my goals this year at The Moery Company is to devote more time working ON my business to ensure it gets better, rather than working IN the business on projects for our customers. I’m being very transparent here, and I hope I don’t spook my clients. They can rest assured – I have fantastic people working for them.  But, a focus of mine is to ensure we have a successful, scalable business that can continue to serve associations.

So, let me explain this approach. In the early days of this company, I was working in the business.
‘In the business’ was selling association sponsorships, conducting research projects for the association, and interviewing association members to see what they like about the association.  Good stuff to be sure – but it was project stuff.

Now my focus must shift to “on” the business critical items. These include:

  • Ensuring our pricing is right.
  • As a company, evaluating our messaging and branding needs.
  • Identifying the new services associations need.
  • And, determining how we capture the data to ensure no one in the space is more knowledgeable about association sales than we are.

I strongly believe this approach is a big opportunity for associations as well. To be the best stewards, there could be opportunities for you to work on the business.  Begin by answering the following questions – (and, you may need someone to help you):

  • What are the mega issues in my industry, and the expectations my members have of us in the area?
  • What are other associations offering my members that could affect us?
  • Does my existing membership dues program enable us to sustain the association in the future?
  • What are revenue growth areas other organizations are engaging in? What could we learn from them?

My guess is as an association leader, you could employ this examination across all of your major departments.
Your meeting planner could be so focused on executing 8 meetings this year, she has no clue what the sponsors want from the association. Your accounting shop is working on getting renewals in the door, without time to reflect on the dues categories and pricing.

So, as a CEO, I would consider what activities or projects you have developed “on” the business this year. And, your role on these projects.

That’s how you make the organization better. The fact is, since 2010, most associations are so lean – they don’t have anyone working on it – everyone is working in it. So the approach is even more critical to the future growth and success of your organization. I’m using the strategy this year and expect great results.  You may want to consider them.


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