5 Daily Habits of Successful Small Business Owners

Jim Ryun, the Olympic track star, once said, “Motivation is what gets you started, but a habit is what keeps you going.” He was talking about running but the same could be said of entrepreneurs. It’s easy to be motivated (and a little scared) as your business comes out of the starting block. But to go the distance, you need to acquire healthy habits. Break the tape at your finish line by developing these habits of successful small business owners.

Start with a To-Do List

Stuff happens in a small business. A problem with a delivery or an equipment malfunction can easily derail your plans. That’s why it’s important to start each day with a to-do list. After you attend to the “emergency,” the list can help redirect your efforts and get you back on track.

The night before, make a list of the 4-5 things that you want to finish the following day. Then look at your list and star the two or three items you must do. Prioritizing the list in that way will train you to focus on what matters most. Be sure each task is realistic. Break down larger tasks into something you can do in one day. For example, post one entry on your business Facebook page.

Innovate on Schedule

When it’s just you, it’s hard to be strategic and take care of the day-to-day too. Yet that big-picture focus is what propels your business forward, especially when it comes to innovation. What new thing is out there that will help you stand out in the marketplace? The challenge is squeezing in time for innovation while running a business.

So, try making innovation a habit. Each week, complete one “What if” statement about your business. For example, “What if I offered a delivery service?” The nice thing about this approach is that you don’t have to find solutions; you’re only generating possibilities. Then each month, pick your best “what if” and investigate it further.

Establish Delegation Milestones

It might seem easier to do it yourself, but successful owners know their time is better spent elsewhere. That’s especially true when it comes to operational tasks. Yet some fear the job won’t be done right or done as well as they could do it. But isn’t that the reason you hire or outsource staff—to free you up so you could pay more attention to running the business?

When you delegate, make it a habit to establish milestones along the way. Don’t wait until the task is completed. Each of these checkpoints gives you the chance to evaluate progress and provide feedback (while there’s still time to make corrections). It increases the likelihood of success and boosts your confidence in delegation.

Ask for Help

Just because you’re in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself. There are a number of ways to tap experts, often for free or a reduced price. That includes your local chamber of commerce or organizations like SCORE that provide business mentoring and education.

But to make it a habit, you need to do it regularly. An easy way to do that is to post a question to LinkedIn interest groups about a problem you’re experiencing. Here’s a list of possible small business-related groups. You’ll be surprised at the response you may get from people who are in the same situation as you. The advantage of this idea is you can do it on your own schedule. You don’t have to attend a meeting or schedule an appointment. Try posting one question per week. 

Schedule Me-Breaks

Often, the best things happen when you least expect them. The trick is to make room for them to occur. That means balancing the demands of work and life. But that isn’t always easy when you’re trying to run a business.

Develop that habit by scheduling 10-minute “me-breaks” on your calendar. Use that time to take a walk, call a friend, or watch a laughing baby video. The space these breaks create between your work and your personal life can help reduce stress and provide a fresh perspective. Many fitness trackers can remind you when it’s time to take a break.

Make success a habit. Start with these simple ideas that you can add to your daily schedule. Each develops the business stamina to help you run the distance to long-term success.

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