The onset of spring means fresh starts and new beginnings. Why not apply some of its inspiration to ditch some of your bad behaviors—and start spring off on the right foot?
Here are common business mistakes small business owners make—and how to replace them, and start fresh.
The Old Habit: Checking email first thing in the morning
Checking email first thing in the morning may seem like a necessary component of running your business, but it has bigger implications than most entrepreneurs realize. When you start your day with email, you instantly get swept into someone else’s to do list, says productivity expert Sid Savara. You lose control of the flow of your day, and where you’ll direct your attention. That often means you can’t focus on the truly meaningful accomplishments that build the business you want, on your terms.
The Fresh Start: Keep the first 45 minutes of your official workday email free.
The Old Habit: Creating a To Do List You Rarely Complete
“To do lists” can help you keep track of the many tasks you juggle each business day. But study your to do list patterns for a week. You’ll likely notice that there are consistently one or two tasks that tend linger, day after day—and never get completed.
Instead of approaching each day with a laundry list of random tasks, limit your “to do” list. Include only priorities you can realistically complete on that day. Each morning, read through your list, and pick out the one item you least looking forward to; start with it. If you can’t complete it in a reasonable amount of time, outsource it to someone who can—and get it off your list!
The Fresh Start: Prioritizing tasks, and committing to their completion
The Old Habit: Doing various business tasks just to save money
Overhead costs eat into your bottom line. But when you’re the boss, the adage “time is money” has tangible meaning.
When your time is dominated by tasks that drain your enthusiasm for running a business, or you manage projects you lack the technical skills to complete efficiently, it’s costly: You compromise your ability to build the business you intend.
Review your monthly business financials to estimate your “hourly rate.” Then log the amount of time you spend on various tasks. Using your hourly rate, calculate what being “lean” ultimately costs your business, considering what you must postpone as a result. You may spend $25 an hour to hire a freelance marketing assistant, for example, but if that frees up hours in your day so you can focus on more valuable business tasks, it’s money well spent.
The Fresh Start: Viewing your time as a critical resource
The Old Habit: Random attendance at networking events
Networking events are intended to connect you with like-minded professionals. While some events deliver on that very objective—not all will. Instead of spending countless hours at random networking events on the chance you’ll meet the influential entrepreneurs and members of your community you admire, seek them out.
Make a list of all the people in business you’d like to meet, learn from and emulate—which may include fellow business owners, community leaders, thought leaders in other industries, and online influencers. Whenever you have plans to get out of the office for lunch, reach out to a local contact on your list and invite them to join (your treat).
When you travel out of state for business, check to see if anyone on your “wish list” is located nearby. If they are, send them a brief email expressing your admiration for their accomplishments. Let them know when you’ll be in town, and offer to buy them a coffee, a drink or dessert for a brief meet and greet when you’re in town. Not everyone will take you up on the offer, but when you approach your networking with a purpose, you’ll waste less time and energy, and feel more fulfilled by every connection you form.
The Fresh Start: Purposefully building relationships