Do you have the same thing for breakfast every day? Or at least, variations on a theme? Do you get up at the same time (ish) every day? Do you have a favourite pair of jeans that you throw on when you can’t be bothered to think of something else to wear?
That’s because we are hardwired to be creatures of habit.
Our brains make millions of tiny decisions every second, many of which we have no control over; it just gets on with the job of remembering to breathe, feed us, rest us and pump blood around our bodies.
With so many thoughts passing through our brains, either consciously or otherwise, it can be tough to make decisions.
If we remove those minor decisions (like breakfast and trouser preferences) it gives our heads more space to work out the bigger and more complex stuff.
One of the biggest challenges facing anyone who is self-employed is establishing a routine. It’s had to discipline ourselves to remove those minor decisions that we can agonise and procrastinate over instead of getting on with the business of being in business.
When we work to someone else’s schedule we have to adopt their routine, but when you work for yourselves, it’s up to you to form good habits that lead to productive routines. We’re the only ones who can prevent the scourge of procrastination from stealing our time, it’s all too easy to get into bad habits when there is no-one looking over our shoulders.
Here are 10 great habits for productive entrepreneurs to form:
Write your ideas down
Many successful creative entrepreneurs swear by the power of their notebook.
We have hundreds of ideas every day. If we don’t capture them, we forget them. Don’t filter, just write them down – filter later.
Tip: Write different points in different colours to break up the text and make individual items stand out. Also, colours stimulate creativity.
Having a new perspective can give you clarity and confidence. Ideas get better when we feed them with nutrients from multiple sources and let them thrive.
Dream Big, Start Small
Have a vision, then break it down into smaller actions and you’ll start to work out a path to success. Baby steps are far more sustainable.
The key to successful marketing is little and often.
The answers are rarely recognisable at first glance. The way you ask a question often reveals different responses and parameters. Get the obvious questions out of the way first and dig deeper.
Gems are only precious because they are hidden, if they were obvious, they’d lose their value.
Creativity is a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. Don’t be afraid to experiment and test things out. Getting feedback is the best way to make improvements and testing things out is the only way to know what works.
People fear change, accept it, be ready for it
We like our comfort zones, we like stability. If you need to make a change that involves the buy in of others, what are the benefits to them? Always be thinking about the benefits to others in everything you do in your business, this is the surest way to build a loyal fan base. It’s up to you to sell the benefits to the sceptics.
Customers are ultimately only interested in one thing ‘What’s in it for me?’
Change your methods
If you always do the same thing, in the same place, at the same times, with the same people, you’ll get the same results.
Our brains need diversity to create diverse ideas. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Have a plan
You don’t necessarily have to have a big fat document the size of war and peace, but you do need to have some sort of a plan, recorded in some way: written, audio, visual, it doesn’t matter.
A business plan is a living document, an agreement with yourself to take your business seriously and keep it sustainable. It’s not something you just do to impress an investor.
Use it to make decisions, allocate your resources in the most efficient way and manage your progress towards whatever success means for you.
Tip: Have an overall business plan sketched out, then have a weekly list of things to do – aim for one big thing a day.
The weekly feeds into a monthly plan – know what you want to achieve that month and make sure that your weekly actions feed into it.
Take money seriously
You may use the services of an accountant or bookkeeper, but you are still the financial manager of your business. It’s not your accountants job to tell you where you are haemorrhaging money or that you are not charging enough. Ultimately, the main person who will suffer if the finances get out of control is you.
Write stuff down. Have a process in place to get things done as efficiently as possible i.e.: letter, email and invoice templates. Take regular, focused actions. Know where you are, what you’ve done and where you’re going next – your business plan is your road map.
What good habits work for your business?
Amy is an author and entrepreneur (an authorpreneur) and regular contributor to Prowess. She is a business trainer by day and performer of random acts of creativity by night. Finding inspiration in the everyday, creating something from nothing and enabling others to do the same. Author of The Bronze Box and number 1 Amazon best seller Solomon's Secrets (writing as Amy C Fitzjohn). Her next book 'Operation Author: So You've Published a Book... Now What?' is coming soon.