2016 is well on it's way now and I'd love to ask you the same question that I ask myself “What is 2016 going to look like for you?”. Well of course we all want to have the most amazing year ever, both personally and in business. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say “sales were up this year”, “I had a great flow of new customers”, “I'm feeling great about the life/work balance I was able to sustain this year”.
Creating good business habits now early in the year will ensure that come December 31st, you can look back and say “Wow, I had a brilliant year! Let's celebrate and bring on another dynamic year”.
The reality though for many is that January starts off all gung ho and then “stuff happens”. We run around putting out fires and doing whatever is on our “should have been done last week” pile. Business ends up feeling like we're running around in circles and not really doing anything as well as we'd like to.
Well let's make this year different! Creating good business habits now will save you time and help you feel free to work on the things that are important in your business – that is, finding new customers and creating revenue.
First things first
So that you know you're on the right track, a good way to start is to do a quick overview of your current business. There's no use in taking off at lightning speed down one path to later on realise you're on the wrong road.
What Why How
Take time to analyse your business and ask yourself these questions:
- What is it that my customers really want from me. A clue: it's not product! it's a solution.
- What do I offer my customers that other people can't.
- Why do my customers (blog readers, social media followers etc) keep coming back to me?
- How can I give more value to my customers and prospects
Get in the habit of of focussing your activities around what's important to your business
Once you know the answer to these questions then you can confidently start to plan your business activities. Any time you are ‘creating' product for your customers, any blogging that you do, connecting on social media and so on, you can come back to your answers to these questions to guide you so that you stay focussed. This is especially great for those times when you want to run after that shiny object, that is “this isn't working, I wonder what everyone else is doing”.
A tip for you is to write your answers to the What, Why, How questions in short sentences or groups of words on sticky notes, or printed onto a small card somewhere on your desk so you can see them while you work. They'll keep you focussed on what is right for your specific business and individual needs.
Work with a To Do List
Yes, it's been said a million times. And yet some of us (yes, me in the past) still think “no problem, I'll remember that”. Working with a to do list, whether it's a notepad, planner, online or app will keep you on track with what's important so you don't end up down a rabbit hole of whatever looks interesting online at the time. There's also something to be said about the great satisfaction of ticking things off as you do them!
I know from experience that when you're an entrepreneur and you love what you do, you don't think you really need a break, or you don't feel like you can afford the time. Aren't you always in your office when you work for yourself? For your own sanity and for productiveness you want to have planned breaks. Whether it's lunch at the same time each day or ‘get up and stretch' times each hour, or the weekend to do things with friends or family, you need to actually make it a habit and block this time out. Keep this break time the same way that you would keep an appointment. It's so easy to slip into your home office in the evening or over the weekend when you should be spending time recharging yourself. Get into the habit of having planned breaks in your business and boost your productivity.
Track your sales and expenses
This is the boring stuff, especially if you have a small business with a product that you are passionate about. All you want to do is get out there, spread the word and talk about your products. But checking your bank balance to see if it's in the positive or negative is no way to keep track of finances. Track all your expenses including any cash you spend on your business along with all money coming in. Whether the money is in your bank account, paypal or cash, make sure it's all accounted for so you can really see what money is coming in. You'll also want to get into the habit of checking your expenses every quarter to see whether there's some expenses you can trim down on.
My favourite habit! I love to read something business related each day. Whether you read something directly related to your business, motivational, or a book on being productive or management money, it's time very well spent each day. If you're not a reader then listening to audios or watching YouTube videos related to business is a great way of getting that knowledge in while doing other things. You can find my recommended reading list here, I'll be keeping this page updated through the year so check back every now and then if you'd like more reading recommendations.
Capture your ideas
As an entrepreneur, you no doubt come up with quite a number of great ideas for your business all through the day. Some will be for something you're working on now and others will be for “one day”. Get into the habit of capturing these ideas quickly before they disappear and collate them for future reference. I love to use Evernote for gathering ideas before they get lost in a dark corner of my brain forever. You can have Evernote running on your computer and phone/ipad at the same time so it all syncs up automatically. Or if you prefer paper, you can use a binder or notebook divided up to capture your ideas. Create Evernote folders or sections in your notebook for “Things to do One day”, “Creative Ideas”, “Sales Ideas”, “YouTube ideas”, “Course ideas” etc. All your brilliant ideas will be in a handy collection so that they're easy to reference when you're having a business brainstorming session.
Now I want to know what business habits do you have? I'd love to hear what habits keep you on track. Post a comment to share here or head on over to my Facebook page to share.