Being a successful small business owner requires a dedication to hard work, confidence, and the adoption of positive habits (to name just a few requirements). We all know how detrimental bad habits can be to building a business: poor time management can push back project milestones; poor focus can distract you from your priorities— the list goes on. But what are the habits that small business owners must have in order to succeed? What should a small business owner be doing on a daily basis to ensure his or her profitability? Consider the following habits, which are of course not the only things you need to be doing in order to be successful, but a good start to put you on the right path.
Plan your time in advance using value driver “buckets”
All successful small business owners know that time can be their most limited resource. That’s why the most effective small business owners have a method of allocating their time effectively. One strategy is to plan your time in advance by using the bucket system. This means that you should focus your time and energies around your to-do list items that drive business value. While this can be a challenge even for the most skilled time-managers, don’t get bogged down on the little things, which will only get in the way of achieving your big-picture tasks. This minutia doesn’t drive value for your business, so why focus all your efforts there? Every weekend, try to plan out the next week by deciding how much you will spend on each big category. However you decide to divvy up your schedule, the key is to plan ahead, so you don’t get off track when the week actually rolls around.
Know your numbers
Without keeping track of your income, expenses, and profit, you’re flying blind! You need to know your numbers inside and out, and that requires careful, regular check-ins. Devote time each week to reviewing your revenue, margins, expenses, cash flow, inventory and net profit. To keep track, you can do it the low-tech, manual way and keep an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or, you can use QuickBooks or a bookkeeper to manage and report your numbers to you. Regardless of your preferred approach, knowing your numbers is critical to being a successful small business owner.
Always look forward
It’s easy to get bogged down in your current workload, but in order to grow your income streams, you need to always be looking for the next deal or client. High-performing businesses are always generating leads, so it’s key that you have your sights on the future, even while working with current clients. Practically speaking, try to set a daily goal for yourself. For example, commit to reaching out to a minimum number of business development contacts each day. While some days may be a bust, if you’re consistent, you will inevitably generate real positive returns on this allocation of your time.
It’s rare that you’ll have customers knocking down your door for business opportunities, especially as a young business. Instead of assuming that business will come your way, take action: take initiative by making cold calls, sending emails, and following up until you get a definitive ‘no.’ Be persistent. These days, everyone gets distracted, and leads may need a friendly reminder from you that you’re still interested in their business. To follow up effectively, leverage technology to reach more people with your business opportunities. You can try email add-ons, which will remind you to follow up on emails from potential clients that are sitting in your inbox and/or schedule emails for later, more optimal times. The idea is to keep the conversation moving. Ultimately, you will see the pay-off via your bottom line.