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On or In?

by Randall Craig on March 16, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Career Planning, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

Most people spend years getting good at what they do. They become superb analysts, salespeople, engineers, or managers. They are rewarded for their efforts with promotions, better pay, and fancy perks. Interestingly, entrepreneurs do the same: they work hard for every sale, delivering on every promise; they are the president, but also the janitor, HR manager, IT manager, purchaser, and run the mailroom. They too are rewarded for their efforts.

But is the reward worth the effort? What separates the most successful from those that merely just become “good”?

The most successful employees spend as much time ON their careers as IN them. The most successful entrepreneurs spend as much time ON their businesses as IN them. Consider what this means:

ON a Successful Career:

  • Set (or update) your career goals: What would you like to be doing in 3-4 years?
  • Choose “filling in the gaps” activities that move you towards this goal.
  • Stop doing things that are not goal-oriented.
  • Share your goals and activities with your support network.
  • Allocate time each day for “ON” activities.

ON a Successful Business:

  • Set your business objectives and break it down to tangible goals.
  • Choose 90-day activities that move your business towards its goal.
  • Stop doing things that are not goal-oriented.
  • Delegate goal-oriented activities to your staff and partners.
  • Allocate time each day for “ON” activities. The larger the business, the more time you should be spending each day ON activities, not IN them.

To be successful in any particular year, you need to be good at what you do – that’s working IN your job. But to be successful over a career – or to be a successful entrepreneur, you also need to be working ON it, all the time.

This week’s action item: Take an inventory of how you spent your time last week, in hours and minutes. How much was spent IN your career or business, instead of ON it? If it’s more than you’d like, then do something about it. (Schedule some time today.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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