Does your business need a boost? Learn the habits successful business owners practice on a daily basis.
By Bruce Hakutizwi
Owning your own business is hard work. In fact, statistics show that more than half of new businesses fail during their first year. From the daily operations to the accounting, legal, marketing and other tasks, there is a lot to keep track of and oversee. In order for a business to succeed today, there can be nothing left to chance. That’s why it’s important to set goals and develop habits that keep you focused on the things that matter.
While some of the habits and skills you need to hone for success may not come naturally — at least not at first — it can be helpful to identify and practice the things that will give your business a competitive edge.
If you’re not sure what things might make the biggest impact on your business, take a look at the things successful business owners have in common.
Here are the top 10 daily habits successful business owners share:
- They get busy before the daily “busy-ness.” We’ve all heard the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” For business owners, this is absolutely true. Those who are successful devote time to focused work before the chaos of the day ensues. This time may or may not be directly related to the business. It may be tying up the loose ends from the previous day, it may be brainstorming new ideas, or it may be spent on exercising or personal journaling to help you prepare for the day ahead. There is no right or wrong way to spend this time, so long as it is focused and free from distractions. Doing this allows you to get a jump on the day.
- They plan/time block their days. The idea of focused work can be carried throughout the day. When you don’t map out our agenda and tasks for the day it’s easy to find yourself well into the lunch hour realizing that you’ve been spinning in circles and not really accomplished anything. Returning phone calls and emails, Facebook and Instagram… these distractions derail us. That’s why it’s important to use time blocking and outline what tasks you will work on, when, and for how long. For example, block one hour of your day and dedicate it exclusively to returning phone calls and emails. Block another hour out to devote to marketing initiatives, and so on. It may be helpful to use a timer method such as the Pomodoro Technique where you identify a task to complete within a certain amount of time. By doing this you’ll find that you’ve accomplished a lot more in a week than if you leave your schedule and tasks to chance.
- They focus on the tough (and profitable) tasks. Successful business owners focus on the work that will generate the highest payoff first in their day. This can seem counter intuitive since, oftentimes, this is the work that is most tempting to put off. Your toughest tasks are usually your most important ones, however, and the ones that will have the biggest impact on your business. Set a goal for yourself that you will tackle your toughest task first. Then set — and stick to — a deadline for when it will be complete.
- They take breaks. No matter how busy you are, everyone needs a break. It’s important to refocus and refuel during your day. Make time to get up and stretch, take a walk or meditate, and you will find yourself overcoming that midday or afternoon lull where motivation and creativity tend to tank. Your mind will wander at points during the day, whether you’re sitting at your desk or taking a walk, so you may as well give yourself a real and meaningful break.
- They’re always learning. Even experts in their field strive to grow and learn new things that can positively impact their business. Whatever your goals are, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest developments and technologies that can help you reach them. For example, SEO is changing all the time so it’s important to stay up to speed on best practices. This can include receiving ongoing education within the platform on which you’re running your business, or it can be as simple as networking with other like-minded business owners about the things that are working in their businesses.
- They stay in tune with their customers and clients. When you’re immersed in the tasks of running your business on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to lose sight of what truly matters — the customer. Customer data makes it easier than ever to stay attuned to your customers’ needs. Make sure you are taking time each week to check out what the numbers are saying about your business. If you have a customer service department, conduct regular check-ins to talk about what they’re hearing from clients, both positive and negative.
- They delegate. The most successful business owners realize that they can’t do it all themselves. Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson is a big proponent of delegation. The multi-billionaire credits his longevity to building a strong team around him and getting involved with only the key issues of his businesses. While we can’t all delegate at that level, it is important to keep your focus on the parts of your business where you can add the most value and leave the rest to others.
- They set a stop time. When you start a business you may have a preconceived notion that the only way to succeed is to put in 18-hour days and burn the midnight oil. This may be necessary at different times and seasons of your business, but it is also important that 18-hour days don’t become your norm. When you go too hard for too long you are setting yourself up for unavoidable burnout. Call it work-life balance, or just good common sense, but having a defined time to end your day and sticking to it — at least most of the time — will pay dividends in both longevity and sanity.
- They realize it isn’t all about the money. If you’re in business purely for the profit, you will most likely fail. Money is a great motivator and there is nothing wrong with that. Just remember that working at something only to make money is far less fulfilling than finding a business you truly care about. Whether you’re running a law firm or a liquor store, your level of success will ultimately reflect your personal investment and passion in the business.
- They keep their goals at the forefront and reassess often. As a business owner, goals aren’t something to simply set and forget. Your business goals should be clear and you should reevaluate them on a frequent basis. Quarterly goal setting and revising is a good practice. Why? Because something that seemed vitally important at the outset of your business may turn out to be less so and vice versa. For example, as you learn about your customers you may discover that the bulk of your business is in your retail store vs. online. If putting a lot of resources into your online store was an initial goal, you may want to readjust goals and budget.
While you may not be able to do all of these things every single day, this is a good overview of things you should be striving to do every day to help your business succeed.
Bruce Hakutizwi is the Director of Dynamis, owner company of BusinessesForSale.com, a global online marketplace for buying and selling businesses. With more than 60,000 business listings, it attracts 1.4 million buyers every month. Bruce manages business development, account management, content building, client acquisition and retention in United States of America, Canada, South Africa, and Europe. He frequently writes about entrepreneurship and small business ownership. Connect @BizForSaleUS.