In my experience, most small business owners go through their workdays in a habitual state of coping.

Coping with all the things that go wrong during the course of a day.

You know the things I mean:

The lights go out.

The toilets won't flush.

The office manager calls in sick.

And those are just some of the minor things.

What about the really important things you have to cope with on a regular basis:

A major client goes to your competitor.

The inventory shipment is late.

An employee sues you for wrongful termination.

I'm sure you're all too familiar with what I'm talking about.

You put out one fire only to find three more needing your attention.

Because you are the Master of Coping. You're the one--probably the only one in your company--who can make decisions about what to do when something goes awry.

Who else would you trust to do the right thing?

Unfortunately, you also know only too well the mental, physical and emotional toll all of this coping takes.

It's exhausting; it's demoralizing. (Don't let the temporary jolt of adrenaline fool you.)

And, worse, it sucks all the joy out of what your business is supposed to be about:

The joy of delivering a great product or service to your customers.

The joy of collaborating with your team.

The joy of being your own boss so that you can take control of your life and have the time, the energy, and the money to make a great life for your family.

So how do you get out of the trap of putting out every fire and coping with every unexpected problem that arises?

The answer is simple.

You need to discover--and implement--the best coping mechanism there is:

Work ON your business, not just IN it.

Work ON your business, creating the systems that show your people how to handle any and every situation that might occur.

Can you really prepare your company for everything?

Yes, you can.

No matter what the naysayers may tell you.

You can prepare for any eventuality if you adopt a "working ON it" state of mind.

To do this, you need to rise above the current reality of your business and see it in its entirety as a finished product.

Expect the unexpected.

Anticipate where the risks and problems are going to come from.

Determine how to avoid them and how to prepare for handling them when they do happen.

Ask yourself, "What would the systems look like that would immediately turn on when each of these disruptions occurs?"

Then build them, document them, and teach them.

Put them into practice and continuously improve them.

Engage your employees in the process.

Working ON your business, rather than just IN it, is the most important point of view any business owner or manager can have.

Because it calls you to rise above where you are, to see where you're not.

It calls you to transform yourself from a Master of Coping to what I call a Master of Business Design.

This, I believe, is the calling of every true entrepreneur.