How to work ON, not IN your business

When is the last time you took a moment to pause, reflect and analyse your work?

This year has been a whirlwind, with deadlines of “ASAP” being the norm. It’s been relentless, exhausting and frustrating for many people.

I know from the conversations I’ve had with clients and blog readers, that creating time to focus ON your business, rather than being IN the business is tough.

If you are searching for a new role at the moment, being able to focus on yourself rather than yourself in a particular role could be helpful.

I’m talking about your personal brand – your reputation and promise as a practitioner.

Why? It’s what will get you hired. I’ll share more details in a moment if this resonates with you.

Further reading via the All Things IC blog: A beginner’s guide to personal branding.

How to work on not in business

Working ON not IN the business.

As someone who runs their own business, it’s critical for me to focus ON All Things IC.

I regularly look at my own professional development, systems, processes, wellbeing and plans to make sure everything is working well and improving.

This morning I had an hour-long consultation call with my business coach and our focus is always on the business.

We need to take a step back and analyse the way things happen. Why? It gives us the clarity to make decisions.

My wonderful PA Louise and I analyse constantly, she’s been with me for nearly three years and her appointment alone made that shift of mindset possible.

If you are working in an in-house role, taking a step back to analyse is a healthy thing to do.

We need to step back before we can move forward.

Working on your business matters for internal communication because it allows you to make informed decisions. If you don’t know why internal communication happens in the way it does, you will just continue doing what you’ve always done.

Here’s how to do this in reality.

At the start of September 2020 I launched my Online Masterclass: How to review and plan your 2020-2021 Internal Comms.

I made it available for free as my gift to the global Comms community and you’re welcome to enrol today. The course is worth £199 and will help you reflect, plan and get organised for 2021 and beyond.

The Masterclass is only available until 31 December 2020. To date, 1080 learners have signed up and you’re more than welcome to join them. You can work through the course confidentially and at your own pace.

All Things IC Online Masterclass

Debbie West and I were analysing the stats on Friday and were staggered by the results. I’m so proud of you for taking the time to do this course.

Comms professionals, Consultants, freelancers, students and people looking for new jobs have enrolled.

Enrol today: How to review and plan your 2020-2021 Internal Comms.

How does it help?

I created the How to review and plan your 2020-2021 Internal Comms course to give you the opportunity to think about your company in a different way.

It’s easy to get embedded in what we’re doing, rather than step back and look objectively at why we do things in certain ways.

Feedback shows it can take up to eight days to complete the course, which I’m not surprised by if you download all the resources and take time to plan properly.

If you’ve started the course, but not had a chance to complete it yet, that’s ok. Give yourself permission to forgive yourself and not put additional pressure on. You may find the first workbook alone is enough to help you think about your Internal Comms in the right way. I’m not going to chase you up, feel free to use it in the way you need, there’s no judgement here.

I created the course to equip you in your decision making. As you can see from the comments above, it’s helping Comms pros transform their thinking.

“It’s helped give me the confidence to understand what questions I need to ask myself to give me some structure.” – Online Masterclass student.

See my Online Masterclasses website to explore all the available courses.

How to work ON, not IN your business

As a Consultant, I regularly ask my clients these types of questions and pose these conundrums to help them focus ON their internal communication, not IN it:

  • Why do you do things that way?
  • What stops you from trying something new?
  • Please can you explain the purpose of that channel?
  • Is that channel working hard enough for you?
  • How well do you listen?
  • Are you achieving your aspirations for internal communication in your company?
  • What have you tried before that didn’t work?
  • What do you think the gaps are in your work? Do your stakeholders share the same view?
  • How do frontline workers feel about the way communication happens?
  • How do you know what you’re doing is working?
  • What does your measurement tell you?
  • What would happen if you stopped doing XYZ?
  • What’s the worst that could happen if…
  • Imagine it’s three months from now and…

If you’ve never asked yourself those questions, I encourage you to do so. Take a step back and see how it feels to view your work as a Consultant.

This can also be useful if you’re thinking about employee demographics and segmentation data.

(Long words, but essentially how you analyse and divide up your company e.g. so you have lists of all line managers, or an awareness of the different age groups, experience etc, which you then use to plan your internal communication. Sometimes this includes personas or internal audience and ambassador analysis).

Working on your personal brand.

I’ve written about personal branding numerous times on my blog over the years, following a period of research into my own personal brand back in 2017.

I also spoke about it at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Connect conference in Phoenix, last year, where I showed this slide…

I define personal brand as your reputation and promise.

It’s your reputation and promise as a Comms professional, as a Comms function or as a Consultant.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously described it as: “What people say when you’re not in the room.”

Jeff Bezos quote

What do they say?

The reason this is helpful when thinking about working ON not IN your business, is understanding the impact of your reputation.

I regularly talk about this in bespoke Masterclasses with Comms teams or in my mentoring calls.

I believe you own your personal brand and rent it to the organisation you work for.

If you are looking for a new job, what is your personal brand?

For example, how would you answer the question: what are you known for? 

The reason that’s important is because what you’re known for, will be what you’re hired for.

When I work with Comms professionals or Consultants who are looking for their next promotion, role, or client, I challenge them to complete my personal branding checklist. This causes you to define and determine what your reputation and promise is.

Further reading via the All Things IC blog: How to build a strong personal brand inside your company.

Let’s put this into practice.

For example, if you want to be hired as a Change Communication expert, then that’s what you need to be known for.

You need to be top of mind when people think about change comms.

How can you do that? Share content relating to the topics. Your LinkedIn posts or Tweets need to be linked to the topic. Write articles on LinkedIn sharing your own view or expertise on something change comms related in the media right now.

Want to know more about this? Enrol in my How to be a Comms Consultant – Exploration Online Masterclass.

When people hire you, they want to have a sense of who you are, how you work and what you stand for.

Writing content linked to that niche topic is a brilliant way to do that.

If you’re going for a job, what comes up when people search your name online? If it’s a page of links to articles, ideas and content about the subject matter you’re hoping to be hired for, it puts you on the front foot.

I’m curious to know your view on this, feel free to comment below or Tweet me @AllThingsIC. If you’re job hunting and think you have a guest post idea for me to consider, do get in touch.

Need help? 

If you want to talk through your personal brand, or ask my advice in your job hunt or promotion aspirations, why not book a Power Hour with me? We can brainstorm together.


If you’re looking for a new role at the moment, keep an eye on my jobs board and @AllThingsICJobs on Twitter.

If you’re recruiting, you can place an advert for just £250+VAT per week.

Further reading about personal brand via All Things IC

I hope you found this article useful. As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllThingsIC.

What’s resonated with you? What’s made you think?

Have a great week,


Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 26 October 2020.

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