What sets small businesses destined for success apart from small businesses bound for failure? Forget New Year’s resolutions—what you need is the adoption of smart habits that lead to the growth and development of your business. Like the disciplines of diet and exercise, establishing habits for your business can build a healthier business and a healthier you. Here are seven we recommend focusing on this year:
- Up Your Networking Game
No matter what type of business you own, networking is an effective tool—never doubt the power of association. Networking is an art that helps you grow meaningful, authentic relationships that benefit you and your business.
Here’s how to regularly develop this skill:
Do your homework before you attend an event and come with an agenda of who you would like to connect with. Be a gentleman or a gentlewoman by making introductions and providing opportunities for others to build meaningful relationships. Focus on quality over quantity—fistfuls of business cards without meaningful connections are futile. And remember to be yourself—authenticity is golden.
- Spot Opportunities & Take Risks
Being a great small business owner means being a great leader. And being a great leader is all about being bold in the present and keeping an eye on the future. The best small business leaders are pioneers—willing to keep their eyes open for new ways to accomplish their goals and not afraid to take risks or pivot from their original ideas.
So take time to keep an eye out for trends and new products. Be willing to think outside the box and empower your team to experiment risk-free. The more open your mind and heart are to accepting the unknown, the more open you are to true innovation.
- Make Your ZZZs Priorities
Most of the time, small business owners fail to make themselves a priority. Working yourself to the bone will not make you a better business owner—it will make you a miserly, unoriginal crank. You need your sleep. You need your exercise. You need your vacation. It’s incredibly difficult to let go and leave your business in the hands of others—we understand. But not giving yourself time to rest and enjoy life is a recipe for disaster. Unplug and recharge regularly so you can come back with fresh ideas and renewed energy to lead effectively.
- Dream Big & Take Small Steps
Business owners create something out of nothing and make their dreams a reality. That’s why we have such hope in the American Dream of small business ownership. If dreaming big is something you’ve forgotten about lately, it’s time to dust off your dreaming cap and make big goals for business growth. Prioritize the most important goals. Engage in incremental, iterative progress on each goal. Over time, taking those daily, small steps will lead to great change and the realization of your dreams.
- Make Your Team Stronger
Your team is the backbone of your business—which is why you should focus on hiring people who bring the best traits and skills to the table. Empower your team to dream with you and provide fresh ideas. Give your employees clear assignments and goals, train them well, give them responsibility and authority, and get out of the way. Invest in their professional development. Provide opportunities to grow. Mentor those with strong potential. Be in the business of creating strong leaders.
- Delegate, Don’t Disintegrate
No one person can do everything required to keep a business afloat, especially a growing one. You and your business will fall apart if you don’t delegate roles and responsibilities. Learn to let go. Hand off projects to your skilled and (newly) empowered employees. Delegation will free you up for the important things only you can do, like acting as the decision maker and visionary of the business.
- Get a Life
It’s hard to separate work from our personal lives. However, it’s incredibly important to set aside some non-working time every day for your loved ones—and for yourself. You’ll come back to your work energized, inspired and better than ever. So get a life. Seriously. No one likes a one-stringed harp.
Laura Walton is a freelance writer and contributor for StreetShares. She is passionate about all things social media and public relations as they relate to the topics of small business and veteran entrepreneurship. You can find her on Twitter at @lk_dubs.