Habits can be the ‘make or break’ for any small business owner who has the daunting and time consuming task of managing their entire business on their own. And with no one to keep you in check, it’s up to you to analyse your daily behaviour to make sure you’re serving your business, not hurting it. By turning destructive habits into efficient day-to-day behaviour, you can work towards building a well-oiled machine with staying power.
Here are 3 not-so-great habits that small business owners fall prey to without even realising it, and tips for flipping them around to your advantage.
1: Ignoring your business model
When you launched your business, you had a mission. Maybe it was to provide faultless customer service, expand your offerings as fast as possible, deliver a completely unique product/service, or all of the above. Whatever your goals were, it required a plan to get you there. As your business unfolds, sometimes it’s necessary to expand upon the original plan, but completely veering off the path can waste resources. Focus on one growth area at a time, as making multiple changes at once can be detrimental to workflow.
If you want to add a new product or service, take it on a trial run. Focus first on the work that makes you profit, then introduce the new idea carefully. Try polling your customers to see if your idea is something they will be interested in. If you have a good response, try a small focus group with either a discounted or free trial to see if it will fit within your business model.
If you discover the new idea requires too much time and money to acquire new interest and customers, shelve it, try another new idea, or stick to your original plan.
2: Losing track of time
It’s hard to think of time as a commodity, but you need to apply value to it. This builds productivity and ensures your time is going towards profits. If you’re consistently short on time, pay attention to where it’s going.
Hold yourself accountable for time spent on daily tasks. Keep a task list and prioritise each job to ensure time-sensitive and profitable work is finished first. Schedule time each day to complete back office tasks so they don’t pile up and potentially cost you money. Mobile technology can be a lifesaver here. Scheduling and admin work is much easier with task-management apps like Todoist and invoicing apps which takes a lot of the work out of billing and collecting payment.
Automate what you can to further save time and decrease the chance of human error. Bills can be set on autopay so you won’t be out late fees. Schedule social media posts with apps like Hootsuite so you’re not interrupting daily work flow to post a promotion.
3: Having tunnel vision
The busier we are, the more we tend to ignore areas of potential growth. To ensure your business is the best version of itself, you need to continually reassess your efforts vs. results. What is your most profitable service or product? Are you spending the most time and money on that, or is your attention divided between time-sucking products or services with smaller profit margins?
Some other questions to ask yourself:
- Are you networking? Keeping yourself visible and active within your professional circle is key for gaining leads and expanding marketing campaigns. You can also learn a lot from those who have been exactly where you are.
- Are you different? While maintaining good relationships with your peers is important, it’s also important to stand out among them. What can you offer that they don’t? Whether it’s personalised customer service, unique packaging, or quick turnarounds, capitalise on what differentiates you from the rest.
- Are you listening and learning from your customers? As technology and trends change, so do your customers’ needs. Instead of assuming you know what they want, make sure you’re staying in contact and asking for their feedback via polls, surveys, phone calls, etc. Then, most importantly, act on it.
Adapt your strategy where necessary to accommodate change, and be flexible enough to not only benefit when business is strong, but to stay afloat when things get difficult. Break bad habits to ensure that internal processes are tight, and your outlook is sharp. This allows you to capitalise on new opportunities and stay ahead of competition.