SpendingTimeintheFellowship: WorkingOnandInYourBusinessWorking 'On' and 'In' Your Business

Every business has a series of stages through which it naturally evolves. Whether for-profit or nonprofit, the early idea stage of a business requires the founder to imagine, envision and plan for future viability and sustainability. As the business or nonprofit becomes operational, future-oriented thinking often gets replaced by present-focused thinking as staff attend to the immediate needs of the growing organization. But across the lifecycle of organizational development, from idea to early operation to scaling up to maturity, successful entrepreneurs learn to balance the amount of time spent working in and on their business.  

Working in the business is managing day-to-day operations, including addressing the inevitable urgencies that pop up and require immediate attention. Working on the business is analyzing the past to learn from experience and imagining and planning for the future. It’s putting in place the infrastructure and processes necessary for one’s venture to pass the test of time.  

By design, the Fellowship includes individuals who are working on social enterprise ventures at different early stages: idea, testing, early growth or scaling up. As a result, it’s natural for some Fellows to spend more of their time focused on the business and for others in the business. However, to be most effective at running and growing their social ventures, Fellows must find their own best balance between these two orientations. The program helps them do so. 

The Fellowship requires Fellows to spend at least 20 hours per week tending to their social enterprise. To ensure they give adequate time and attention to working on the business, Fellows are given regular assignments and participate in frequent cohort check-ins during which they present their homework for feedback or, in some other way, use their peers as thought partners. These activities require that Fellows work on their ventures rather than be consumed by the often more urgent demands of working in the business.  

Fellows should expect to spend at least one-third of their time, an average of six to seven hours per week, working on their ventures. This program requirement, with its accompanying deliverables, is intended to help them thoughtfully plan for short-term business viability and long-term sustainability.  

Contact, Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at cfastner@ifound.org or (320) 631-2019.