“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” - Aristotle
Running a successful small business is not just about having a great product or service. It's about consistently making the right choices and building good habits that lead to long-term growth and prosperity.
The Habitual Path to Success
As a small biz owner, you've got a lot on your plate when it comes to managing all the moving parts and pieces of your operation. And this can be overwhelming, especially if you don't have a structured approach to handle all the moving parts and pieces.
That's why developing good habits is key.
Habits are the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make consistently but are the silent architects of our routines, gradually shaping the course of our businesses and our personal lives. For small business owners, recognizing the significance of these habits and harnessing their power can make all the difference between thriving and merely surviving.
Think about this: Do you have the habit of starting your work day without a clear plan? Do you react to whatever urgent task lands on your desk, navigate the day without a strategy, and often feel frazzled and unproductive?
Instead, what if you got into the habit of beginning your day with a well-thought-out plan? Instead of just jumping into whatever fire needs to be put out, you take time to prioritize tasks and systematically work through your to-do list.
This simple habit of prepping for the day, which may only take 10 or 15 minutes of your time, could help you tackle challenges, seize opportunities, and grow your business in the long run. That trade-off is more than worth it.
Of course, habits are not formed overnight; they require consistent, deliberate choices. But by intentionally creating habits that align with your goals and values, you can streamline your daily routines and decision-making processes. This allows you to enter into a sort of "auto mode" and makes the multifaceted demands of a small business much more manageable.
Selecting the right habits to develop is crucial. Your choice of habits should align with your business goals and personal values. Consider these factors when deciding which habits to cultivate:
Relevance: The habit should directly contribute to your business's growth or your personal development as an entrepreneur.
Sustainability: Choose habits that you can realistically maintain over the long term (the key word is realistic), avoiding those that lead to burnout or excessive stress.
Incremental Impact: Focus on habits that provide small, consistent benefits that compound over time.
Alignment: Ensure your habits are in line with your business vision and values.
The Habit of Waking Up Early: Early bird gets the worm, right? Small business owners quickly learn that waking up late leads to playing catch-up. Starting early gives you more time to work and keeps you ahead of colleagues and partners.
The Habit of Daily Planning: Start your day by setting clear objectives and creating a to-do list to keep you on track. Consider categorizing them into Must Do, Should Do, and Could Do. Complete your must-dos first, and then work your way down from there. Release yourself from the guilt if the should-dos and the could-dos don’t get done. They weren’t your priorities.
The Habit of Email Management: Depending on the nature of your business, you may find yourself reading and responding to emails multiple times during the day. This seems innocuous, but if you're stopping what you're working on whenever that notification appears on your screen, your attention has been interrupted, and your productivity can suffer. Consider scheduling specific blocks of time dedicated to handling emails, perhaps morning, afternoon, and end-of-day. This will minimize interruptions and allow you to allocate more concentrated, uninterrupted time to your most important tasks. “But what if there is an urgent need?” Anything so urgent that can’t wait for 3-4 hours shouldn’t be sent in an email. (Just our opinion.) But to be safe, set up an auto-reply alerting the sender you check e-mails at designated times only. If it truly can’t wait, they’ll figure out a way to reach out.
The Habit of Connecting with Your Team: It's important to stay connected with your team on a regular basis. While too many meetings, back-and-forth messaging, and phone calls can be time-consuming, consider blocking out just 10 minutes a day or 30 minutes a week (or whatever works for your group) to share updates, ensure everyone is on the same page, etc. Even if there isn't anything urgent to discuss, the habit of touching base with your team will result in a more cohesive, motivated, and productive group.
The Habit of Delegation: Unless you’re new here, you know we believe that entrusting responsibilities to others is a pivotal step in enhancing your productivity and efficiency. It frees up your time to focus on important things like planning and goals, empowers your team, gives you a healthier work-life balance, allows operations to run smoothly even when you're not available, and is essential for scaling your business. Break the habit of saying, “I’ll just take care of it.” Get in the habit of delegating it out.
The Habit of Learning: We hate to break it to you, but you do not already know everything there is to know. Get in the habit of learning through books, podcasts, newsletters, etc. The medium doesn’t matter; what matters is taking the time to expand your knowledge and skills continuously. Learning fuels innovation, contributes to your personal development, helps you be a better problem-solver, and gives you more confidence. Be a perpetual student.
The Habit of Batching Tasks: This is simply grouping similar (mundane) activities together and tackling them in one dedicated session. Examples could include posting to social media, returning phone calls, running errands, doing admin stuff, balancing your books, etc. Rather than jumping from one thing to another and back and forth, do ‘em all at a designated time. You’ll save a ton of time and reduce decision fatigue.
Small choices may seem insignificant at first, but over time, they accumulate and yield substantial results. Just like compound interest in a savings account, the effort you invest in building good habits for your small business will steadily grow and pay off. Consistency is the key to reaping the benefits of your habits.
How to Create New Habits in 21 Seconds, Not 21 Days: Interview with Blaine Oelkers
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
Habitica (A task-management application that treats your real life like a game.)