Work on the business, not in the business

"I'm a digital artist - so the business was built on my output. I realised when I was working in the business we weren't evolving it as much."

Dines | Co-founder | Studio Blup

How would you explain what “work on the business, not in the business” means?


It’s a philosophy that I only just worked out. I'm a digital artist. So the business was really built on my output. A lot of the time I was working inside the business, trying to create this thing and not poking my head up through the roof. Seeing what's happening in terms of new business, getting inspired and speaking to new people. I realised when I was working in the business we weren't evolving it as much.

It was a case of taking a step back and thinking: “All right, look, if we've got what we got now and it's as good as it can be. How do we get it out there? How do we look at the studio as a product.” That way more people can see it. More people can talk about it. Which opens the doors for different tactics and different collaborations. That’s been quite useful, as my business partner, Alex and I both tended to work more in the business.

The problem is when we both worked in the business, it wasn't working as well. Because we were looking at it all from the same point of view. That’s when we made a decision, that he works mainly in the business, looking at how things work and what we are doing internally and what we need to fix.

And I worked on the business. That way I can stretch myself a lot more and speak to a lot more people. When we found that beautiful balance, that's when we started understanding that sentence “work on the business and not in the business”. Because we were both doing different things at the same time to make things explode.

What do you think about this ‘advice’?


I love it. It was something that I always used to hear when we were starting up. I didn't really get what it meant. But when momentum started slowing down a little bit and we were wondering why things weren't going as quick as we wanted to, that’s when we understood what that sentence meant. You have to look at yourself from a third party point of view seeing where things are going wrong for you and where things are going right. Taking the time to just concentrate on the things that will take your brand to the next level.

So when that sentence came up, I started using it quite a lot actually. I even started advising a lot of my friends who are in start up businesses and freelancing saying: “You guys gotta work on the business and not put your head down too much in books and bury yourself in just your own thoughts.” Because again we learnt the hard way. As soon as you poke your head out of the box then good things just will start happening.

I love it and I still use it to this day. Even to remind ourselves!

Would you give this advice to other people?


A million percent. When I do seminars and talks, that's actually one of the slides. I actually break it up into two parts, then talk about what you can do when you work inside the business and what you need to thrive in that mode. Then when you work on the business and what that actually means.

So what I tell people is to make sure you break it down into two parts. Because when I first heard about it was just one word to me. I couldn't digest it. I couldn't understand it. So when I break it down it's a lot easier to digest and people get excited about working on the business.

What was Dines' end goal at the beginning of building his business and how has it changed since?


Throughout our time as Studio Blup we’ve always needed to innovate in the work that we do. We've always had to keep on top of style trends, marketing and how we do things differently.

The end goal was always to pioneer that and actually create stuff that people are inspired by and create that noise. We were hitting our targets very slowly and doing things thoroughly. But the end goal for us was to be known worldwide! Help build an industry. Have a bit more inclusion. Have a bit more diversity. Inspire a new generation of creatives to start something up.

We're doing a lot of things with universities at the moment. We're doing a lot of stuff with communities. The business has shifted from not just being an agency where we're getting work, we’re becoming an agency that helps breed new talent. That’s spearheading where we want to take it. It also gives us a little bit more of a purpose. It's good working on the brands, good money, etc. But at the end of the day, when you look at yourself in the mirror, it's just like, what have you changed?

That’s how we evolved our business of thinking bigger, giving ourselves a backbone.


Dines' full bio

Dines is the co-founder of creative Studio Blup.

Humble promo of Dines and Studio Blup


Dines is an artist at heart. It's how he started his agency with his business partner Alex. And it's how Studio Blup will always be known - as a business with an artistic DNA. Studio Blup represents modern cultures that are set to define the future of our world. Following Dines and Studio Blup will definitely keep you on the forefront of creativity. If you're looking for agency to push you beyond the boundaries of what you thought is creatively possible, definitely speak to the team at Studio Blup.

Daniel (Polymensa founder)  

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