The other day, I read a statistic that said by 2017, 40% of the workforce will be independent workers. That number excites me because I love entrepreneurs. That entrepreneurial spirit is passionate, hardworking, gutsy, and creative, and the world needs more people like that. According to Business.com “every minute a new business in the U.S. is started.”
All my life I have been around small business owners. My father was a contractor, and my mother was a real estate agent. They gave birth to two more entrepreneurs, my brother and me. My brother opened his own law firm one year after graduating from law school. And as a two-time business owner myself, I mentored and mingled with a lot of small business owners.
As you can imagine, some small businesses are more successful than others. According to the Small Business Administration, “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.” There are thousands of articles written about what makes a small business succeed, and equally as many pieces written on how to be a successful entrepreneur.
However, this is what I have learned from personal experience. There are 10 habits every small business owner should say yes to if they want to maximize their chances of success. The fewer of these habits you develop and master, the more you will struggle and vice versa. So even if you tackle one of these habits at a time, you are taking baby steps to even greater success with your small business. These habits are not listed in any particular order – they are all important.
Even after 25 years in business, I am still amazed that I have things to learn. In my eight years as a professional coach building a private practice, I could not believe how much education I needed in business building, and I came from the business world. Many small business owners know their trade well, but have no idea how to start and grow a business. You might be a great cabinetmaker or dance instructor, but that is just one small aspect of being a solopreneur. Successful entrepreneurs are engaged in constant learning – reading, taking classes, and engaging mentors is a way of life. New ideas, perspectives,
Using the Latest Technology
This morning I spoke with a prospective client who let her assistant go because she was unable to keep up with the technological changes in her business. Technology changes faster than anything else in your business. New apps and software enter the marketplace every day, and many of these tools can help you be more organized, efficient, smarter, or richer. Technology can help build your brand, and market your company to new clients. Successful small business owners get on board with the latest technology, or they hire someone who can.
Honoring Balance and Health in Your Life
Balance and health go hand in hand. Successful entrepreneurs understand that illness threatens their livelihood. When you honor balance in your life by taking regular vacations, minimizing the number of hours you work, and making time for laughter, fun and exercise, your health will be good. When you feel good, your business thrives. You will be more productive and creative, and your happiness will shine through. Most people want to do business with happy and healthy people; consider it a client magnet. So make the time for you. Give your body the attention it deserves.
Setting Up and Streamlining All Business Processes
From the beginning of the marketing process to the delivery of the finished product or service, there are numerous processes you go through. Many of these procedures you follow happen naturally or have been developed through years of doing business. Some you might still stumble through. But is every process in your business smooth? Are you constantly asking yourself if you could streamline or handle things more efficiently? And are these processes documented so anyone could jump in and take over? Success in small business depends on developing, documenting, and following consistent processes that making your business operations run smooth. Analyze all your procedures and be honest about areas that need improvement. Fix the glitches and bumps so you can take your business to the next level.
Being on Top of Your Financials
Unless you are a financial consultant, accountant, or bookkeeper, you probably hate keeping track of your finances. Most small business owners do. There are other aspects of your business that are much more fun, or demand more of your attention. It’s easy to put the bookkeeping on the back burner. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know, in any given moment, how much money you are making, or who owes you money? Are you curious about whether your profit margins are growing from year to year? Numbers don’t bite (literally) but they do give you important information about your business success. Awareness is power. Use financial awareness to implement the changes you need, and make those numbers work for you.
Outsourcing in the Areas You Need Help
You started as a solopreneur wearing every hat a small business needs. You marketed your business, called on prospective clients, closed deals, delivered your product or service, managed your bookkeeping, and anything else you needed to grow your business.
Continual Marketing and Branding
Do you remember when you first started your business, and the only way to obtain your first client was to market? Maybe you spoke to everyone you knew to spread the word, or perhaps you ran some ads to market your business. Then you got busy and didn’t have to worry so much about new clients. This is when many small business owners stop marketing. Marketing keeps your pipeline full. If you lose a client or simply want to keep your business growing, there are more prospects to convert. Another aspect of marketing is building your brand. All of your marketing efforts should be consistent and in line with the brand you are wanting to convey to the public. Even if you have more business than you can handle, don’t stop networking, posting to your blog, or running small marketing campaigns to increase awareness of your business. You never know what new client will come your way that could change your business dramatically.
Cutting Losses Early
One of my clients recently hired a subcontractor she thought was going to be a great addition to her team. The guy started out strong but within a few months, little problems began to pop up. He would fail to show up at a job, or he would tell her something and not follow through. The quality of his workmanship declined slowly, but she was in a bind because she needed the help. Thankfully, my client was smart enough to cut her losses early. She quickly began networking to find replacements for her customer jobs and put herself in a position to fire him. Successful small business owners know bad decisions, if not remedied quickly, can significantly hurt the business. As entrepreneurs, we sometimes make mistakes, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is if we are slow to fix things, learn from our missteps, and move on.
Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – your business success depends on setting goals. Without goals, you have no idea what you are doing, or what direction you are heading. Your personal and business goals keep you focused and motivated to accomplish great things. If you are new to setting goals, start small and set daily goals. Every morning, I set three goals that I want to accomplish for the day. If I complete them, I can set more, but at least I know I handled three important items. Write out your goals on paper. Share them with a trusted friend or business partner. These two actions alone increase your chances of reaching your goals. When you see them and speak them into the Universe, and take appropriate action towards your goals, the Universe will deliver.
Thinking Bigger Than You Are
You’ve seen the image of the small kitten who looks at himself in the mirror and sees a lion. There is no room for small thinking if you want to be a successful business owner. Small thinking comes in the form of negative thoughts, putting limits on yourself, and holding onto beliefs that stunt your growth. Yesterday I saw a great graphic on Instagram. The picture was divided in half. Both sides showed a mom with her child, making reference to the janitor working in the background. One mom said “If you do not study, you will end up like him.” The other mom said to her child “If you study well, you will be able to make a better world for him.” This is a perfect example of small thinking versus big thinking. You don’t have to be arrogant to think big, but you do need to be confident. Believe in yourself, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve (and you always deserve the best). Pay attention to your thoughts, and to the ways you make yourself small. Surround yourself with big thinkers. Shift those patterns and allow yourself to play big in the world of business.
I’m curious. Which of these 10 habits have you mastered? And which habits do you need to develop to take your business success to the next level?
10 Habits Every Small Business Owner Should Say YES To
September 20, 2016