How has the first few months of the new year treated you and your business? Over the holidays, small business owners that have the time, reflect and plan out their vision for the next calendar year. We all think about where we want to be this time next year and we always aim to set a resolution of what we’d like to achieve from our business. Perhaps a better turnover? More profitability? Or perhaps a tighter work system and more time out with friends and family. The elusive work/life balance that we all dream of is not impossible to achieve. However, it does require us to change our general living habits if you are looking to succeed.
We start each year, maybe each day, with great intentions; but have we really taken the time to cement into our routine the healthy habits of the successful small business operator?
"I don't’ think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” - Richard Branson
Here are some of the habits of today’s successful small business owners. If you tried to improve and focus on making even just one of these traits second-nature, you’re bound to see a positive effect. With only four months until we’re looking down the calendar barrel of another EOFY, here are four great focuses for each month before tax time. By the new financial year, you could be looking at a whole new future.
1. Never Stop Learning
The world is moving at a pace with which few of us ‘normal’ business owners can keep stride. It’s important to constantly learn,evolve and keep yourself up to date with changing trends. You may be an expert in your field; but you can’t know it all (even if you do, it won’t be for long). The world’s greatest experts and entrepreneurs are constantly looking to broaden their knowledge and embrace new ideas. The willingness to absorb the world outside your life and business like a sponge is a powerful fuel for success.
Keep up to date and adapt to the latest technology. Be mindful of your competitors and their systems, and study those who you aspire to be like. Many businesses have folded because they failed to innovate. Remember Blockbuster video? Founded in 1985 it was an iconic household brand. In 2000 Netflix approached Blockbuster with an offer to sell their innovative company to the industry giant for $50million US dollars. The Blockbuster CEO was not interested in this "very small niche business.” Therefore, remember to not only be open to innovative ideas but to also keep your options open. It is important to not set strict guidelines in areas of your business where there is potential for development and growth.
Ten years later, having failed to transition to a digital business model, Blockbuster
filed for bankruptcy. Netflix however, recorded an annual revenue of US15.8 Billion in 2018. Crazy? Not really. Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith and to accept the changing dynamics of your business as technology grows.
Thanks to technology there are a swathe of seminars and conferences we can attend online, e-books we can listen to as we commute, and courses we can take in our own time to improve our skills. Follow the influencers in your field (the up and coming ones too) and lap up their insights at every opportunity. Taking the time out to read about current business trends of your niche. Bury your nose into autobiographies of successful businessmen and how they made their way to the top. Learn from their mistakes and implement them in your own practices… it will surely prove to be worthwhile.
2. Invest in yourself and your business
It really is survival of the fittest. You must maintain a healthy mind
and a healthy body in order to effectively manage, grow, and ENJOY your business.
Have you ever worked with a lazy, scattered, tired staff member with a short temper that could bring the team down? When you’re not looking after yourself and letting the stress and strain of overworking filter through into the business - you become that staff member!
There’s no glory in telling people how busy you are, or that you skipped breakfast, or complaining about how many years it has been since you last had a holiday. Even if people DID feel sorry for you, they can’t help… only you can fix it. (They probably think you need to manage your time better!).
What is impressive, are those happy and passionate business owners that have hired the right staff and put in place systems to ensure everyone is managing their time effectively and actually enjoying what they’re doing. Taking time out to eat, sleep, exercise, socialise, plan, learn, grow and play, will help you reach towards a more successful business growth as well as a healthier lifestyle!
3. Plan properly - don’t take on too much at once
The old saying goes, "Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The same applies to your small business. It’s fantastic to plan and identify systems and growth methods that you want to implement; but when your to-do list for the last three months keeps growing without shrinking… it’s only a matter of time before your stress bubble bursts and you require additional help.
Strip back your ideas and simplify them into bite-sized actionable tasks. This will help you identify your priorities. What CAN be delegated as opposed to what SHOULD be delegated. What you can realistically handle yourself, and where you might need some added support. This is a great time to fill some gaps in your team, restructure or outsource staff.
Creating a budget and business plan is not always easy, many people benefit greatly with the external insights of a business coach or mentor to help you create a roadmap to your success.
"One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
4. Nail it, before you scale it
If business is going well and opportunities are popping up left right and centre, it’s exciting! This excitement can make it easy to bite off more than you can chew. The danger here is a loss of quality control. You should be obsessed with providing top quality, and value to your customers. If you grow too big, too quickly, your services might begin to slip. Suddenly you’re facing poor stock control, you’re understaffed or underskilled, there’s slow customer service response times, sloppy accounts and recordkeeping. Little customer care and attention. Any one of these slip-ups can send you in a downward spiral.
It’s okay to take risks and try new things, that’s what the great business owners do; but as your business and brand strengthens, keep it at a manageable point when it comes to your customer base. As swiftly as you can, nail the systems, processes and staffing skill sets and levels that will ALLOW it to grow with the same - or even better - passion, care and quality that your happy customers have become accustomed to.
If your business hasn’t quite reached this point yet - it can’t hurt to plan for when it will ;)
Onwards and upwards our hard-working small business friends! Your friendly bookkeepers are always here to help when you need us.