Think about something positive you do during the course of any given day that would be considered habitual. Jogging every morning before work?  Checking in on a loved one with a phone call?  Reading at least a few pages a day of a new novel?  Chances are you have established some good habits throughout your life that enrich you in some way.  Building a successful business also requires good habits.  How many on the following list are part of your business protocol?

  • Set goals.  This tip includes both short term and long term goals for your business.  Maybe a short-term goal would be to update and enhance your website.  What can you do each day to achieve it?  A long-term goal might be to expand your overall online presence by year’s end.  What can be done each month to reach it?
  • Define success. Success is measured differently by everyone, so take some time to reflect upon what is important enough that represents success to you.  For some, it might be a dollar amount; for others, the flexibility to make one’s own hours.  Your definition of success may change throughout your time as an entrepreneur, but having a concrete idea of what it actually is will keep you motivated and on task.
  • Prioritize. It can be tempting to try completing everything that needs to be done all at once.  However, this is unrealistic.  Owning a business requires stamina, and without pacing yourself, burnout is bound to happen.  Prioritize your tasks and reassess your list regularly. 
  • Organize.  Disorganization can literally cost your money.  If you need to bring order into your office, do so immediately.  If you are already sufficiently organized, establish habits that will encourage you to stay that way.  Small business ownership is a sort of juggling act, one in which chaos and clutter have no place.
  • Personalize.  The one huge advantage small businesses have over corporate giants is customer relationships.  Assess the relationships you have with your customers and the service you provide them.  How can they be improved?  What can you offer that goes above and beyond?  Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and being a poster-child for exceptional customer service will benefit your business in a multitude of ways.
  • Identify the bad habits.  The creation of good habits must come from the replacement of bad ones.  Figure out what you are perpetually doing that is ineffective for your business, and come up with a way to replace those things with good habits.  For example, do you procrastinate when following up with customers?  Replace this bad habit by dedicating a set window of time every day or week to exclusively contact your customers that need a follow-up.  Stick with this plan consistently, and before you know it, it will be second nature for you to stay on top of customer service.
  • Change one thing at a time.  As with anything new, it takes time to make the behavior habitual.  Do not try to change your whole work life in one fell swoop.  Choose one element on which to focus, and perfect that first before moving on to the next.  This will facilitate consistency and long-term maintenance of those good habits. 

What habits do you practice that contribute to building a successful business?  Please share with us in the comments below!

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