As an entrepreneur, your business is your baby, but as a parent you could find you’re being a touch overprotective.
Have you noticed some of these nine no-good habits creeping into your day-to-day practices?
Here is some advice from entrepreneurs who have found themselves in the same boat as you, and managed to turn things around:
Bad Habit No.9
Studies have revealed that your IQ level drops by 10% when attempting to multitask and productivity drops by 40%.
In fact, we should call multitasking, switch-tasking since you aren’t simultaneously completing two projects at once; you’re simply dividing your attention between them without allowing your brain to focus fully on one task at a time.
Trying to complete too many tasks at the same time can also reduce the quality of your final product. As an entrepreneur and the driving force behind your business, you don’t want to lower the quality of the products going out the door because you’re trying to do too much at the same time, or you think this process helps to increase your productivity.
“No one can be (switched) on 24/7, and the trouble today is that with Internet access and smart devices, we’re all reachable anywhere, receiving a constant stream of information we feel compelled to reply to.
Leaders tend to want more and more, but good managers should encourage their teams to take time off to recharge, and to encourage daily down time by making a habit of going offline,” say co-founders Melody Tomlinson and Diane Collier from the Performance Booster Programme.
“There’s also a multitude of studies proving that being ‘always-on’ negatively impacts your ability to be effective, and that downtime leads to higher productivity.”
Bad Habit No. 8
Failing to delegate tasks
To create a successful business, you need to be able to work independently as well as part of a team. But, if every project is causing a bottleneck when it hits your desk, then it could be a sign that it’s time to loosen the reigns a bit. Your workplace can be a harmonious environment if you include your team and share in the responsibilities of new projects.
It’s understandable that you’re nervous about giving someone else some control, but you can’t be everywhere and you can’t do everything. The sooner you allow your team to grow in responsibility and knowledge, the faster amazing results will start coming in your door. Your employees want to help you make your business great, which leaves you time to focus on the bigger picture and the strategy forward.
“One of the most important things I have learnt is to let other people in your organisation take the lead,” says social entrepreneur and co-founder of DreamGirls, Ezlyn Barends. “That has been an important realisation for me as I am involved in many initiatives, which makes time a precious resource.”
Bad Habit No. 7
Not making decisions
When faced with a sudden expansion of their business, the executives at Jones Lang Lasalle had to quickly find space to accommodate the new team. They took the opportunity to revolutionise how they worked by opting for an activity-based work environment.
“We chose The Firs in Rosebank because we wanted a pedestrianised, first-world location where our people can pop out for lunch or go for a walk whenever they choose. Because the move presented us with an opportunity to do something avant-garde, we decided to create a space that would double as a showroom for clients (which they love). We are living the offering that we’re proposing to clients and testing it in our own business,” explains Craig Hean, MD of JLL.
Bad Habit No. 6
Allowing interruptions to happen
The New York Times reported that the USA losses an estimated USD650 billion in productivity, due to constant staff interruptions.
Can your business really afford to lose on both productivity and money because your team is being unnecessarily interrupted throughout the day?
If you’re finding yourself in situations where you seem to just have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, then start noting down how this is happening in your day and for how long before you get back to the task at hand. If this is happening to you, it’s probably happening to everyone, and your company needs to set up rules about unnecessary interruptions.
When Z Capital, an investment and management consultancy group, started out, co-founder Amanda Cuba soon realised that she needed to focus on the strategy of her business, but prioritising planning over building a business seemed to be impossible.
“In the beginning, I was involved on a tactical level, and strategy came second. Then my coach advised me to set aside time for strategy unless I wanted the business to fail, even if that meant putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my door,” explains Amanda Cuba co-founder of Z Capital.
Bad Habit No. 5
Doing everything on the fly
Being the go-to-person in your company can only take you so far. If there are vital aspects of your operation that can’t function without you, you could be setting your business up to fail. There have been cases where entrepreneurs have tried to sell their business, but because the entrepreneur is the business they were unable to.
It’s healthy to play a central role in your business, but you need to be able to step away from your business, and not lose sleep over projects that are not going to plan. Implementing systems and processes within your business can help you to create consistency throughout, which brings everyone on the same page a lot faster.
Founder, Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment realised early on that having systems and processes were so essential to a business that he created a business that offers creative chefs a framework to work with.
“We love what we do because we provide the magic that makes everything happen behind the scenes. We give celebrity chefs like Luke Dale-Roberts, of The Test Kitchen fame, the tools to produce the wonderful dishes he creates. That gives me so much joy. Our clients are creators, and they inspire us. In turn, we take satisfaction from knowing that we add real value to their lives by helping them to meet their goals,” says Yacoob Carr from Munaaz Catering Equipment.
When customers choose Munaaz Catering Equipment, he explains, they purchase peace of mind, and not just a product. This is a critical factor in the hospitality industry and in the high-end food service business in particular, where consumers are fussy and have high expectations.
Bad Habit No. 4
Yes, thinking short-term can help you out of a tough situation, but there’s a time and a place for everything. If your business is surviving with tactics your team is developing from one month to the next, you may find it almost impossible to scale your business and hold on to customers when you’re not cultivating repeat business.
It may seem like your company is doing well but you need to shift gears and plan for the long game if you want to scale and retain clients. Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove created a unique business that thrives on solid relationships that he cultivated long-term.
“I’ve stopped taking on one-off jobs. I think it’s better to create a long-term relationship with a client. When considering a new job, you have to ask if the job is worth your time. Is it big enough, or will it only be diverting you from jobs that are potentially more lucrative?
Getting repeat work is not about being the cheapest, but about being the best. If you can show that you really add value, clients will be more than willing to pay, explains Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane from ShowLove.
Bad Habit No. 3
Taking unnecessary risks
Starting your own business can be risky; you took a big risk from the word go when you started your business. But there’s a difference between taking calculated risks with the potential for reward, and unnecessary risks caused by poor systems and processes and ‘unforeseen’ circumstances.
The digital landscape, for example, allows you to connect with more of your customers than ever before, but it also leaves you open to PR nightmares. There are numerous channels of communication available that you will need to somehow manage, or risk damaging your company’s image.
“Scenario planning and risk management is incredibly important,” says Magna Carta CEO Vincent Magwenya.
“You need to have some sort of strategy in place for the day when you find yourself at the centre of a social media debacle. An online catastrophe arrives quickly and unexpectedly, and managing it effectively can be tough. The last thing you want to do is to lash out like a snake trapped in a corner, behaving counter-productively and fanning the flames, so you want a strategy in place that will take emotional responses out of the equation.”
Bad Habit No. 2
You chose your team for their knowledge, expertise and experience; by not listening to what they have to say you’re only making more work for yourself.
As the creator of the business, some entrepreneurs feel the onus is on them to come up with all the ideas and strategies. But this isn’t true; your team are a part of your business because they want to help you achieve success.
Otherwise, it’s as if you have a great rugby team, but all your players are sitting on the bench and you’re the only one on the field. How can you succeed like that? The only trick is, hiring a great team to begin with, so you can feel comfortable collaborating with your staff.
“People go to work to fulfil what’s most important to them. Because of this, you need to ask yourself two questions when hiring an employee: Does the prospective employee’s vision align with the company’s, and will their daily tasks inspire them.
You need to find out what a person’s values are. If a job in no way aligns with what a person is already dedicated to, the fit won’t be ideal and the work will suffer,” explains Dr John Demartini of The Demartini Institute.
Bad Habit No. 1
Taking on too much without direction
The benefit of adopting a Lean Start-up methodology is that it provides a start-up the opportunity to find its niche and become the best at delivering its product or service. Your business could find itself in trouble if you are trying to be in every part of your value chain and offer your customer everything they could ever need.
At some point you will find your business is just stretched too thin and can’t maintain competitiveness operating in so many different, diversified spaces. This is when you need to decide to pull the reigns back, and figure out exactly what you want to do with your business and where you want your business to go.
To make your start-up a success you need to find your niche and you need to launch into that niche with everything your business has. You need to own that niche and everything there is to do with it, become the best at what you do, even if you only offer one product.
“Smaller operations can remain competitive even when behemoths invade their market. Despite the presence of Apple Music, Indie Shuffle has remained relevant by offering niche content that’s carefully curated, and by staying at the forefront of technology. It might depend on tastemakers rather than algorithms for curation, but it fully realises the importance of technological innovation,” explains Jason Grishkoff of Indie Shuffle.
Read next: 5 Habits That Made Elon Musk An Innovator
How To Control What You Can And Influence What You Can’t In Your Life
Every day you need to get up and face numerous challenges. Here’s how you can keep your head in the game — even when all you want to do is quit.
On Monday you wake up ready to take on the world. You’re focused, determined and business is doing well. Tuesday feels like you’re invincible and things could not be going any better. Wednesday, your world collapses. You doubt your ability to deliver to your clients. You wonder whether you should still pursue the same business. You think that quitting at this stage is easier than dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And you are dramatically reminded that entrepreneurship is hard.
Mix in human nature and it becomes borderline insanity to try and build a business. And yet, the reward is worth it. I therefore want to share three strategies that might help you cope with this tough but deeply rewarding pursuit.
Influence and control
Most of the things in business and life are out of our control. You cannot control how other people react to your service or product. You cannot control how your employees will show up. You cannot control how the market will react and how that will affect your business.
Related: How You Can Do Big Things
This makes it very important to control what you can and then influence the rest to the best of your ability.
So, what can you control? You can control your actions, reactions and perceptions of the challenges you face. Meaning essentially, that you can control yourself and your efforts.
Do this with excellence and you will automatically influence the people around you and the situations you find yourself in.
Override your moods
If we only did the hard work when we felt like it, we would hardly get anything done. Our moods fluctuate like the tides of the ocean. Not because we are temperamental but because the external world has a profound impact on us.
When you wake up to news that the economy is in recession, it has the potential to plant seeds of doubt in your mind. When you receive an email from a disgruntled customer complaining about your service, it has the potential to ruin your day.
The fact is that you can receive a hundred testimonials singing your praise, but you will obsess and become despondent over that one negative comment.
This means that we have to move beyond our emotions. Sure, they are important in the decision-making process and for fostering meaningful relationships. But you cannot allow them to dictate when you will do work.
In other words, work hard, irrespective of your moods, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.
Create a calibration practice
One of the best ways to deal with this rollercoaster effect is to create a daily calibration practice. I am a big fan of any action taken on a daily basis. Not only because of the accumulation effect that occurs over time, but also because it keeps you focused.
So, what does a daily calibration practice look like?
It differs for everyone. It could range from meditation to a vision board to journaling to listening to a specific playlist of songs. My suggestion is that you give journaling a go.
Because it’s sometimes difficult to start a new calibration practice, I have included my journaling template for you.
It’s called ‘J1G’ (pronounced as jig). I use Evernote or a notebook from HumanWrites for journaling purposes.
For the first few minutes, simply allow your hand to run across the paper. The idea is for you to dump as many of your thoughts onto the paper as possible.
Some questions you can answer in this section are:
- What am I currently excited about?
- What am I currently worried about?
- Where am I currently winning?
- What can I learn from what happened yesterday?
1: The one thing that you want to get done today
In this time, I usually have a look at my to-do list and decide which one action I want to get done today. Write it down and then expand on why it is the most important action. How will it move you or your business forward?
Related: Better Thinking For A Better World
In the last section, you simply write down three things that you are grateful for. Trust me, this is an important daily practice, but even more so on the days when you feel as if life is beating you down.
When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you crowd out fear and shift your state of mind to a more positive and productive one.
The punch line
If you can stick to the three ideas I outlined above, I guarantee you will develop more resilience and perseverance. You are an entrepreneur because you chose to be one. Do not allow life to impose its will on you. I have no doubt that you will be better off because of all the challenges you face. Not in spite of them.
Practice This Important Skill To Get Your Way Every Day
Listening is a powerful tool to deepen trust and understanding.
“Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” – Richard Branson
Did you know that an anagram for the word listen is silent? As an entrepreneur, have you ever found yourself frustrated trying to speak to someone who would not be silent and simply listen?
Whether you were immersed in a conversation with a client, at a company meeting or stuck in the negotiation of a business deal, it can be annoying when someone interrupts the flow of things, stealing away from your experience.
Related: Are You Listening Enough?
It can be especially difficult when you have an urgent need to communicate something important or accomplish an objective and you need to get your way.
However, did it also occur to you that perhaps you’d been the first to interrupt, thus neglecting to listen? Oftentimes, though largely unintentional, we force our opinions upon others, simply due to a lack of awareness.
The act of listening seems like it should be natural. However, in the business world, it’s one that needs to consciously be developed to manifest greater success. The act of listening varies from situation to situation, but it can be used as a powerful weapon to overcome adversity and ignorance.
So, ask yourself: Are you merely hearing, or are you actively listening? If your honest answer isn’t a favourable one, consider these five steps as reliable ways to not only connect on a deeper level with people through listening but to get your way as well:
1. Repeat or rephrase to demonstrate understanding
First, listen intently to what was just said. Then, either repeat or rephrase it so you know you’ve understood. Even better, your listener will know you did what mattered most – took the time to actually listen. This forces you to stop thinking about a response. Later on, if your audience makes a strong claim about what was said, you’re able to reference what you did to ensure mutual understanding.
Related: (Video) Shut Up and Listen!
Of course, when dealing with difficult individuals, there’s not much that can be done. As is the case with every rule, there’s an exception, and for this one, this is it. To avoid this kind of situation, should a critical conversation be on the horizon, consider taking notes. When it comes to listening, it’s one of the most sincere forms of flattery.
Also, be sure to pay close attention to listen to what is not being said, too. Like subtle body movements and other nonverbal cues that will alert you to critical information that will help you to get your way. Pay attention to them. They will help you to get a better feel for where a discussion is headed and how you can be more persuasive.
In his international bestseller What Every BODY Is Saying, former FBI counterintelligence officer Joe Navarro states, “Just as careful listening is crucial to understanding our verbal pronouncements, so careful observation is vital to comprehending our body language.”
2. Make your listener feel important
This isn’t easy, but if you can completely focus your attention and energy when listening, people will like you more. As stated above, the people you engage with want not only to be recognised but to be understood. When you don’t actively listen, it’s all but impossible for a favourable impression to be made.
Make your listener feel like they’re the only person in the room. Give them your undivided attention. Resist the urge to look around or check your phone. In today’s day and age, with so many competing distractions, this kind of focus is rare. You’ll be remembered and respected as someone who does things differently.
Former President Bill Clinton was famous for his ability to do this. No matter how long the engagement, treating people properly can curry favor for a future need. It’s no secret that people typically will help those they like, right? Needless to say, it’s much easier to get your way when you’re liked, and this is a great way to increase the likelihood of that happening.
3. Resist the urge to always be talking
In any business-related conversation, you’d prefer to be in the “driver’s seat,” right? Believe it or not, during a negotiation, the person who speaks the least tends to be perceived as the one in control. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs believe the opposite – if they’re busy talking, they’re in control.
The truth of the matter, however, is that he or she who’s loudest frequently comes off as aggressive, egotistical or even desperate.
By listening, you learn. As you learn, you gain knowledge and wisdom. As you grow wiser, you’ll gain influence and become more charismatic. If you develop your listening skills and become an exceptional listener, you’ll be amazed at how attentive people will be when you finally do speak your mind.
Now that you have their attention, you can share everything you’ve learned from your conversation and you’ll know exactly what to say to get your way.
4. Be present in the moment and listen to your intuition
Imagine for a brief moment that you’re in a conference room at a large networking event. The majority of your peers can’t wait to “vomit’ all over you with mind-numbing information about what they do, how they offer it and why you stand to benefit.
Sound familiar? It’s a familiar scene for relationship-driven entrepreneurs.
Yet, what’s funny about all this is that it really takes only one introduction to the right person for your business to take a quantum leap forward. So, rather than trying to meet everyone, focus on how you feel around those in attendance before introducing yourself.
Are you ready to learn the secret of being a great listener? Simply pause for a moment and take a deep breath.
When you breathe deeply and in a controlled manner, you’re forced to focus on the present moment. This allows you to sharpen your self-awareness as you observe your surroundings with clearer and broader vision.
In this deeper, more intuitive-driven stage of listening, you’re free to release tension and doubt, helping prepare you for difficult questions, rejections or even objections. When not placed under pressure, you’re able to listen with your entire self: the body, the mind and the heart.
Bringing consciousness to your breathing develops intuition. With intuition on your side, you’re prepared to listen and (and learn) through the lens of your highest logic. The result? Others feel content and confident. Even better, you’re in a position to truly connect, as opposed to correct. All this from taking a much-needed breath or two before talking.
5. Invest in building “relationship equity.”
Have you heard of the term “relationship equity”? It’s become very popular recently. Truth be told, there’s a reason for it – every time you demonstrate the ability to listen, you deposit “relationship credit” into your audience’s account.
Then, when it’s your turn to speak, the chances of the favour being returned with deliberate listening are increased. If not, gently remind the other person of the fact that you gave her the stage to speak her mind first and you’d simply like the same respect and courtesy now.
By listening first, you’ll influence others to reciprocate and return the favour. Reciprocity is a powerful subconscious tool to creating influence according to behavioural scientist, Robert Cialdini, in his latest bestselling book, Pre-Suasion – A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. As an entrepreneur, you can use reciprocity to your advantage through listening.
People not only need to be heard, but they deserve it, too
Both inside and outside of the working world, at the core of each one of us, lies a need to be understood and accepted. Active listening is a simple method that supports emotional intelligence. It not only makes others feel special but also demonstrates your ability to focus.
With this new focus, we can now effectively shift our attitudes from those of want and neediness to those of gratitude and even compassion. Actively listening summons feelings of security and stability in others. This is important, as it is actually an evolved form of recognition.
Even in business, listening is one of the best gifts that can be given. Listening magnifies your perceived value and validates your power of authority as a leader and an expert in your field. Intentional listening unlocks greater self-awareness, which is a state of consciousness that leads to joy and fulfillment.
In this state, you have a much better chance to influence conversations and get your way by listening, as long as you have the best intentions in your heart and that it is for the highest good.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Ways To Develop A Success-Oriented Mindset
Confidence empowered entrepreneurs to take decisive action, and decisive action is what builds confidence.
Take a minute to imagine an entrepreneur you deeply respect. Think of that person at the start of his or her career, working on a product or service that will eventually make it big. Regardless of whom you’ve chosen, chances are the entrepreneur in question had a success-oriented mindset from the outset.
Entrepreneurs who lack confidence or who have a pessimistic mindset will usually fail. It’s hard to motivate people to invest money in a new idea or work for a fledgling company if the entrepreneur behind it lacks confidence. But having a successful mindset isn’t just helpful for those who are launching a new venture. It can also help readers from all walks of life to make smarter decisions that result in better personal or business outcomes.
Here are 10 strategies that can help you develop a winning mindset.
1. Put yourself in challenging new situations
You gain confidence by overcoming challenges, but when you fail to put yourself in challenging new situations because you assume the outcome won’t be positive, you will be unable to grow.
Instead, develop a list of exciting challenges you’re interested in overcoming. They could include exploring a foreign city on your own or enrolling in a challenging business course at your local university. Even volunteering to help with a new project at the office can provide a challenging situation that will foster growth.
Whatever the challenge you select, be sure it is something that interests you; otherwise, it may be difficult to stay focused along the way.
2. Be open to finding a mentor
Mentorship is often discussed with regard to self-improvement and business success. But many professionals assume that finding a mentor is as simple as asking a senior professional for help.
However, as Sheryl Sandberg argues in the Harvard Business Review, finding a mentorship doesn’t work that way. Instead, professionals need to put themselves in situations where they can build real relationships with senior business leaders.
In time, after an existing relationship has formed, it may be appropriate to ask a senior professional for mentorship. That means readers will need to make themselves available to build professional relationships before they can secure a mentor who can help them grow.
3. Think of failure as a learning opportunity
Failure is an outstanding learning opportunity. If you find yourself succeeding frequently, it may be a sign that you aren’t challenging yourself enough.
Develop a mindset that views failure as an experience to learn from. By reframing failure, you’ll find it is easier to take risks. Adopting this mindset will leave you less prone to anxiety, which is key to creating a winning attitude.
4. Keep a folder of your proudest moments
While it’s important to focus on the present and future instead of the past, maintaining a collection of moments you’re proud of can serve as a helpful reminder when you’re feeling down. By periodically reviewing past successes, you may find inspiration for future projects. At the very least, you can use past successes as a way to build long-term confidence.
5. Surround yourself with top talent
Environment plays a significant role in creating our mindsets. After all, we’re social creatures and are influenced by those around us. Surround yourself with talented individuals who can teach you new things and who can encourage you to grow personally and professionally.
If you’re involved in the hiring process at your organisation, look for prospective employees who are better or smarter than you. This will help create an environment that can consistently encourage you to form a successful mindset.
6. Find time to disconnect from stressors
The average American works more hours per week than his or her counterparts in other developed countries. Furthermore, the average number of hours worked has been steadily growing since the 1980s. Unfortunately, work-related stress has been creeping up at the same time.
Readers should find time to disconnect from work-related stress that can make it difficult to adopt a success-oriented mindset. Traveling can be a good way to disconnect, as can adopting a daily meditation practice.
7. Develop a simple morning routine
According to lifestyle gurus like Tim Ferriss, we are shaped by our morning routines. That means it’s important for readers interested in developing a new mindset to develop new habits as well.
Since your morning has the power to make or break your entire day, consider creating a simple morning routine that positions you to have a successful day.
For example, waking up earlier than normal can give you time to focus on yourself in ways that might have otherwise been impossible. With the extra time you can go to the gym or develop a meditation practice to reduce stress, as mentioned above.
8. Set time-bound and achievable personal goals
More than 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. If you’re serious about changing your mindset, you should take a different approach to goal setting. Instead of relying on a New Year’s resolution, create time-bound goals that you know are achievable from the outset. Approaching goal setting from this angle will help to build your confidence, which in turn will reshape your thinking.
9. Listen to your instincts
Part of developing a winning mindset is learning to trust your instincts. According to the Harvard Business Review, we are usually capable of making smart decisions when we rely on our gut instincts.
Confidence in your instincts is a critical component of business success. While it’s usually ideal to rely on research and data to make decisions, there are a variety of scenarios in when empirical evidence is unavailable or inconclusive. In these situations, people with a winning mindset are comfortable making decisions with their gut. This serves them well in the long run.
10. Avoid stagnation
If you feel as though you aren’t learning new things in your personal or professional life, it’s time to change it up. Avoid stagnation in order to continue to grow. This will help you to face new challenges and overcome new obstacles.
Developing a successful mindset can take time. To get started, focus on learning new skills and putting yourself in new situations. By overcoming adversity, you’ll begin to develop faith in yourself.
Establish morning routines and build a network of talented colleagues and mentors in order to avoid stagnation and achieve moments you can be proud of.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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