The arrival of 2016 means you’ve got one more year as fearless entrepreneur under your belt! Here are four simple business habits to incorporate into your routine this year to make sure you end 2016 even better than it began.
1. Stop multitasking—as business habits go, it won’t help you
Being connected to phones, tablets, computers, emails, and texts at all hours of the day and night may feel like the only way to manage the challenge of running a business. However, there’s plenty of research to suggest that trying to do it all, all at once, does just the opposite of what we intend. In fact, researchers at Stanford University found that college students who self-reported a tendency to multitask using electronic devices displayed a significantly decreased ability to ignore irrelevant information and distractions, even when not tending to multiple things.
2. Treat your time and attention as a valuable asset
End each day by scheduling your top three priorities to complete for the next day—a great business habit to clear your mind while also preparing for tomorrow. Shut off all electronic distractions—including email, social media updates, and text notifications—until you’ve completed your list the next day. This shift may be challenging for you and those are accustomed to you being available 24/7, but only at first. Over time, you’ll stop being so reactive and distracted, leading you to be more productive, effective, and present in all areas of your life.
3. Commit to being a better active listener
Being an entrepreneur often requires that you be energetic and extroverted. Unfortunately, you can miss a lot of important business cues—from clients, peers, and staff—by talking more than you listen. Being an active listener is an important business habit to have, so don’t underestimate it!
- Imagine a visual that matches the speaker’s words to stay present in the conversation. The mental image will help you remember what they’ve said after the fact and reduces your temptation to think of your response while they speak.
- Say less in every conversation. (Ideally, you’ll get to the point where you listen for about 75% of the interaction.)
- Limit your questions to be relevant to the speaker. If a client mentions they’ve had challenges with their website, it’s natural to share a story about a similar experience to build rapport. But that remark shifts the conversation away from them—and onto you. Instead, ask about the kinds of challenges that occurred, why they think the issues happened, and what they’ve tried—with genuine interest, not judgment.
4. Learn one new piece of information a day
Regardless of what you sell or to whom, your ability to connect helps you to win confidence, trust, and loyalty from others. Note, however, not all people have interests, dispositions, or personalities that mesh with yours to easily form that sense of shared connection.
You can overcome that hurdle with breadth of knowledge. Each month this year, make a list of five things you know little about. Spend 15 minutes a day learning about one of the topics: Listen to a podcast, read articles, watch a YouTube video, or research the influencers relevant to the topic on social media. At the start of the new month, select five new topics to explore. Not only will this spark your own creativity and curiosity, but it will also become easier to form connections with a wide variety of people.
5. Chart a monthly path to growth
You want your business to flourish, but do you have a plan in place for how to fuel growth, month by month?
Start each new month by asking these questions:
- What one thing exceeded my expectations last month? Why did it work?
- What one thing didn’t go how I’d hoped last month? What did I learn from it?
- What can I change to make my business more efficient?
- Are there “low-hanging fruit” opportunities I can seize? (This may include expanding relationships with key accounts, cross-promoting with other partners, or contributing content to publications to improve your business presence.)
- What three things do I want to accomplish this month? Why?
- How will I measure my progress to the goals I set throughout the month?
These simple questions can help you detail the steps you need to take throughout the year to remain focused and excited about your business, even in challenging months.