Running a small business is a rewarding experience. It’s hard work and the hours that you put in can be crazy at times, but there are no regrets here. I’ve been running the business since 2007, so officially it’s no longer a startup — we’re firmly past the 5-year mark!
That doesn’t mean you can be complacent about how you run your business. Reviewing what Avidmode and Indigo Girl have achieved so far, with a little nudge from Chris Brogan, Daniel and I are taking stock and thinking about the good habits small businesses should form.
Raising my hand firmly in the air, I’ll state that good habit forming is something that I struggle with… actually it’s not the forming of the habits, it’s the staying on the proverbial wagon that I’ve had issues with.
After 2-3 months, some good habits start to slide into bad ones, and I don’t notice until it’s too late!
A few nights ago, it became apparent where I’m slipping up. Now it’s been pointed out I’m like, duh! This month is turning out to be an amazing learning experience.
Well, after that long ramble, here are the good habits that have helped us to nurture our business in the hopes that you can adapt them to do the same for yours.
#1 Take a top down view of your business
Making decisions in the wider context of your vision for the business will help you to keep focused and on track. Every decision you make about resources and clients impacts upon the achievement of your goals.
So, you need to set a mental framework that you go through when making decisions so that you don’t stray off course. I find balancing our decisions between increasing cash flow, our visibility, and speculating on projects that will increase opportunities in the future works well for us.
Choosing to pursue too many projects in any one of those categories can throw you off course.
#2 Review your business processes regularly
Business practices develop overtime, creating new contact points with your customers. This can happen on the fly as and when something needs addressing, possibly because of action taken due to firefighting efforts!
This is normal, and businesses need to be agile in this way, but there also needs to be consistency of approach so that your prospects and customers are receiving a consistent experience.
Each member of your team needs to act in accordance with your brand image and the ethos of your company. Jarring customers with something out of place can lead to loss of reputation, trust, sales, and lower customer satisfaction rates.
So, it’s important to review periodically to make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page, and then if anything is out of alignment it can be caught and fixed.
#3 Important daily tasks should be a routine
There are certain things that you need to do every day so that your business runs optimally and keeps moving forward.
These are the first things that slide to accommodate the needs of others — be it staff or customers. This doesn’t do you or anyone else any favours even though you might think it does at the time.
You need to make sure that you don’t over schedule your day. Build in time for reflection and the tasks that you need to complete.
Learn to draw a line in the sand to control interruptions. These can have a big effect on your day. Don’t try to eradicate them, they are a normal part of business life, but mitigate the damage that they can do to you getting your work done.
You might want to look at implementing something like the Pomodoro Technique, which splits your work time into short sprints and breaks. You can quite effectively slot in interruptions to this type of schedule.
The habit that I’ve struggled with is number three, and the reason that I was falling off that particular wagon is that I wasn’t reinforcing my behaviour.
I would keep it up for a few weeks; it would even be something that I reviewed as part of my weekly review. Once everything was going well, I assumed it would tick along by itself, rather than monitoring it on a monthly and then quarterly basis to make sure the habit was fully embedded.
I think I may have learned that lesson the hard way!
Are there any habits that you think are vital for small businesses to form? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences —feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section.