Recently, I filled in at a tradeshow for a friend who could not go at the last minute. It’s the first time in about two years I have worked in my business consistently for a week instead of on it. This sudden change of working the tradeshow led many of my employees, clients, friends and family to ask what I do during my days that would cause me to fall behind.

One morning, I sorted all my work so I could “catch up” over the holiday weekend. For fun, I thought I would categorize it and see what I do when I work on my business instead of in it:

Finances

There are a slew of financial tasks that I hate. I put those in one pile. It is tedious work. But I learned several years ago that to stay fiscally healthy, I must watch the numbers like a hawk. I review all the metrics regularly to ensure that things have not gotten behind or ahead of each other. A few months ago, a client asked about our billable hours. While we record every minute of every day, I wasn’t worried about how that played out in billable time. Seeing we consistently bill far less than we put into a project has led me to analyze every step of every process.

New business

Prospecting for new business is a continual system in our agency. But that system needs feeding. This includes everything from content for our social media to contacts for our list. My primary job is to stay in touch with my clients and watch to see who moves to what company.

Employees and team

The key to our success as an agency is providing training for our team. Things rapidly shift in the digital world. My job is to seek out new marketing opportunities, create best practices for them and be sure our team has the proper training. Another role of mine is to seek out benefits and introduce new incentives to our team. For example, we now allow our employees a “day off” on their birthday, where they spend the day volunteering in the community.

Processes

When you’re not working in the processes, noticing their inefficiencies gets easier.  A big focus of mine is on technology and our processes. Faced with keeping our technology up-to-date and polished, I guide our internal tech team to find these solutions. Sometimes we need to rely on outside help to get there.

Strategy

By far, my favorite thing to do is review all the jobs and all the stats for each program. My staff responds well when I plug an idea for a twist on their projects with the intention to enhance it or generate bigger results. If I see a project not hitting my standards, I like to make a list and look for a way to mention this carefully. It’s important that no one feels threatened, but the program may need to shift to make up lost ground.

This requires reading. Lots and lots of reading. I love the trade publications and skim them daily. I have favorite blogs and favorite people to follow on Twitter. I love to nose into financial statements and look at my Google alerts for news items about my clients or their competitors. There’s something comforting about the number of lists I have and the places feeding me news. While I parse it out during the day to snack on little bits of content, I do most of my reading at night when I have time to relax and study.

Certifications

My own learning is a constant effort. I keep track of all the new tools and ensure our team stays certified in Google AdWords, Analytics and all our marketing automation tools. Staying abreast of changing technology is critical to what I do.

Switching to work on my business rather than in it has really helped us determine where we are successful and better point us toward growth.