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
Don’t Victimise Your Mind: The 6 Keys To Develop Yourself And Your Business
This writing offers six keys to self and business development.
“Plan your work and work your plan” – Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder
Considering the plethora of permutations within the self and business development fields it is truly hard to develop yourself and your business. The good news; however, is that it is possible for all to achieve fulfilment and sustainable business success should we consciously choose to and act on our choice with a mountain of good old-fashioned ‘grit’ to underpin our efforts.
This writing offers six keys to self and business development:
1. Find your purpose
It is highly probable that a number of readers might roll their eyes when they read again that they have to find their purpose and brand such a suggestion as cliché. Well the thing with clichés are that they are mostly true but they require investigation and reflection beyond surface judgements and thoughts in order to have true practical meaning in your life.
Finding your purpose for yourself personally and for your business means that you attach a lot of positive and transformative meaning to what you are doing. This meaning transcends yourself and adds value to society. Having sincere purpose is a source of inspiration and can get you through severe challenging times.
2. ‘Stack’ your inspirations
I prefer the term inspiration over the use of the word motivation. Motivation is as fickle as your will power and is finite. True inspiration mainly fuelled by a strong and enduring sense of purpose has the power to help you overcome the most challenging circumstances.
For the purposes of enduring success and fulfilment you need to connect the dots between whatever inspires you which will create a powerful and symbiotic effect that will give more meaning, confidence and improved results to what you are doing.
In practical terms this means to:
- Listen to music daily if music inspires you.
- Workout daily if well-being is a source of inspiration to you.
- Read the work of others daily if knowledge inspires you.
- Sing in the shower if your own singing inspires you.
- Meditate daily if seeking within for answers inspires you.
- Sleep deeply and at least six to eight hours if deep rest inspires you.
- Look at images of great works of art if art inspires you.
- Daily look at your written Vision and goals.
- If dancing inspires you dance every day.
The above are just a few examples of what might inspire you. You need to ‘stack as many inspirations’ as possible in one day in order to experience a great day.
3. Unlearn the victim mentality
The victim mentality presupposes an inclination towards a life of excuses and justifications however valid or invalid they appear to be. Several ancient teachers have taught us to look deeper into our own trials and tribulations and shift the paradigm of suffering them to honestly learn from them and become stronger as a result:
“I take pleasure in my infirmities” – St Paul
“The wound is where the light seeps in” – Jalal ud din Rumi
Reflect on the challenges in your life purely from a learning perspective and stop assigning blame to others or even yourself. Changed behaviour is the only true apology. Past guilt and less than desirable past results can weigh us down within a state of fear and anxiety within the present moment.
Direct your energy towards actionable solutions to challenges as opposed to diluting your finite energy reserves by overthinking on past negativity.
4. Unlearn the desire to always be right
Do not get stuck in the perpetual cycle of frustration caused by you thinking that everybody thinks or should think like you. Yes, you are mostly right but only within the realms of your own perspective.
Be open to other alternatives, truly listen to opinions and learn from others. Instead of holding on to an opposing view for the sake of defending your ego and the desire to be right attempt to ‘connect the dots’ between opposing philosophies and find the common ground between them. This attitude builds relationships and slowly but surely builds bridges between enemies.
5. Unlearn your need to ‘do something in order to get something in order to be something’
For most an expectation is to do well at school, then university, find a great job and build a family. All of this has to be done to truly be someone in society. A key and paradigm shifting realisation for me in life was that ‘you don’t get what you want but what you are’ – This means that you attract both your empowering beliefs and your limitations of who you are to yourself not what you want.
Therefore if you want more love in your life, first be more loving. If you want more money first truly develop an abundance mentality and not only pay lip service to the idea of abundance.
6. Take swift and confident action, daily
Procrastination is the top enemy to success. Overthinking leads to more anxiety. Yes think but do it rapidly and effectively by asking and answering key questions such as:
- Will this serve my purpose?
- Will this be worth it?
- What are the potential risks and what can I immediately do to counter act them?
- Does this resonate with me and does it align with my values and mission?
- How can I build capacity for this?
If I am unsure I should immediately take action on quickly finding out more and then execute. Procrastination reduces productivity by a great deal and builds your level of anxiety.
How To Leverage Your Skills To Start A Side Business
Start a service-based business with knowledge you have acquired over the years.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016 report, more than 25 million Americans have initiated entrepreneurial ventures. Being an entrepreneur is synonymous with being a risk taker, and one of the best ways to minimise this risk is by starting on the side, from home. In fact, according to the same report, more than half of U.S. entrepreneurs start and operate their businesses from home.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs fail to start a business due to lack of funds and business knowledge. The truth is, in most cases, none of that is required. Entrepreneurs get rewarded for solving people’s problems exactly the way employees get paid for their services. Starting a business is about creating value by solving problems and addressing needs, therefore, capturing an opportunity to serve others and getting compensated for your work is entrepreneurship in its purest form.
Especially for service-based businesses, this does not require a website, marketing campaign, business plan, round of investment funding or any other assets but your existing skills, knowledge and a laptop.
In my experience mentoring entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and visions, I found that most aspiring entrepreneurs worry too much about their 100th customer when they haven’t even acquired their first. Most entrepreneurs worry about growth stages before building a foundation.
This article shares three simple steps to help you clear your thoughts and focus only on the activities that matter in the beginning of a business venture.
1. Define your service
The key is to stick to your area of expertise. While you may have plans to start a thriving business with many products, services and customer segments, thinking too big too soon will have failing consequences. The challenges entrepreneurs face trying to run before they walk is overwhelming, and this causes failure.
What is it that you do today? This will be your service. If you were hired to do a job, chances are you are good at what you do. If you are a social media marketer, other companies need your services and consulting. The same applies to project managers, designers, programmers, teachers, engineers, researchers, assistants, scientists, coaches, speakers, etc.
Grab a piece of paper and write down your solution – “I offer X.” Before defining your ideal customer, start by writing down your service. It’s fine if your solution is as general as, “I offer social media, consulting, accounting or research services.”
Defining your ideal customer in the next step will help you become more specific and targeted.
2. Define your ideal customer
Service providers are often challenged with the ideal customer definition. This is understandable because virtually speaking, using some of the services mentioned earlier, many companies of different sizes need project management, design, programming, teaching and coaching services. Focusing on the ideal customer doesn’t just save time and money in finding and serving the customer but more importantly, it helps in the outcome of your contribution and your results. An ideal customer is “ideal” because you know how to help them get results. They need people like you.
The ideal customer definition process starts exactly like service definition. Start with the company that trusted you to do a job — your existing or previous employer. Chances are, many similar companies need your help and expertise. You may want to avoid serving your employer’s competitors, however, using them and their needs as a benchmark will quickly help you identify similar companies in different categories or industries.
No matter how competitive your space is, the barriers to acquiring the first customers will still be much lower than learning a new skill to serve customers in less competitive industries. Stick to your background. Especially in the beginning, focus on customer segments with the least players. The bigger the company, the longer the sales cycle. In this case, even if your experience is in helping Fortune 500 companies scale, you may want to focus on smaller companies with similar profiles and help them grow as big as your current or previous employers.
Your value proposition combines service and ideal customer definition. I help [ideal customer] with [your service], and I do it differently or uniquely by [how are you different].
For example, I help professionals leverage their skills to launch service-based businesses by providing them with a clear roadmap to paying customers, and I do it uniquely through a tested and proven framework that aims to minimise costs and reduce time to acquisition while bringing clarity and trust in the entrepreneur’s journey.
3. Define your acquisition channel
This step is simply about connecting the first two steps. In other words, how do you convey your service to your ideal customer? Use this as a rule of thumb. Your first customers are hand picked. Yes, social media, SEO, funnels, affiliate marketing and all other marketing strategies can help, but you must get your hands dirty to close your first customers quickly.
When you start and don’t have proof or case studies, people will invest in you, therefore, presenting and selling yourself is your best bet. From experience, here are the two best channels to accomplish this goal.
- Cold emailing, including using the power and network of LinkedIn. Drafting a personalised email or message that goes directly to your potential customer’s inbox is one of the best ways to grab their attention, especially when you are addressing businesses. Keep your message short, mention an interesting fact about their industry, comment on one of their recent posts or accomplishments, and present your services and how it can help them drive results.
- In-person events, especially smaller conferences, meet-ups or social events. Defining your acquisition channels is essentially about finding a way to signal your availability to your ideal customer. Local and national events are a great way to build personal relationships that can soon turn into business partnerships. Spend time developing and nurturing relationships and the rest will follow naturally.
Finally, and above all, the world needs your skills and expertise, and people are ready to compensate you for your contribution. We are all entrepreneurs in one way or another. Entrepreneurship is about creating value through solutions. You do that already, so it’s about time you capture other opportunities on the side or full-time.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Healthy Habits Businesses Should Adopt In 2019
Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019.
When we think of adopting healthy habits, we usually think in terms of our bodies or our personal lives. But as an entrepreneur, shouldn’t you be adopting healthy habits for your business too? After all, like our bodies, businesses perform better – and are better able to withstand the occasional storm – when they’re functioning at an optimal level. So how does the concept of “health” translate in a small business context? Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019:
1. Streamline your cash flow
You can have all the impressive clients you want, but if they’re not paying you on time (or at all), your cash flow will suffer – making it very hard for your business to function. Similarly, if you don’t strategically keep money in your business (for example by only paying bills when you need to), you can also run into trouble. Since cash flow is so important to a healthy business, take a high-level view of the money that’s coming in and the funds going out on a regular basis. Then, make sure that the two work in tandem, so that your bottom line stays as stable as possible.
2. Apply the KonMari method
Author and organising consultant Marie Kondo has exploded in popularity in recent years, and her 2011 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has been published in 30 countries. In a nutshell, the KonMari method is all about keeping only those things that spark joy in your life – whether it’s clothes, books or furniture. The result, Kondo believes, is a happier, calmer, more contented life.
You could apply this principle to business too. For example, which clients are more trouble than they’re worth – and conversely, which ones give you joy that you could find more ways to work with? Or, what services does your business provide that your heart’s really not into – and which ones are you passionate about? This mindset could apply to almost any business context, from a branding refresh to streamlining your service offering, or even just clearing the clutter from your office.
3. Use tech to get organised
Admin tasks can often be overlooked in a small business, because employees are typically wearing so many different hats: they’re salespeople, account managers, the HR department and more. But if you let the admin slip, your business can suffer, and this can spill over into your dealings with customers. Luckily these days, there’s lots of tech available to help you with almost every aspect of business administration, from invoicing and budgeting, to timesheets and project management. Most of these are available at a minimal cost (or even free), so they don’t require a huge outlay. Making this small investment can pay for itself many times over in helping your business run more smoothly.
4. Get the pipeline rolling
The key to keeping your business healthy is to keep the momentum going, which means keeping the flow of new customers. Even if you’re in a comfortable position right now, you never know what’s around the corner in terms of your industry, new competitors or the economy in general. That’s why it’s important to keep stoking your sales pipeline by looking for new leads all the time. Be proactive: go to networking events, ask to be introduced to companies you want to work with, or even just try and upsell to existing clients.
5. Keep your people healthy
When it comes to the health of yourself and your employees, the personal and business worlds definitely merge. After all, if you or your employees are constantly sick, they can’t be giving their best to your business. Several medical schemes, such as Fedhealth, have a medical aid offering specifically for corporates and their employees. Besides helping to lower absentee rates and improve productivity, you’ll also boost employee morale by the improved benefits you’re offering.
By adopting just a few healthy habits within your business, you’ll make sure that in the long run, it’s as successful as it can be. It works the other way too: A successful business will have a positive impact on you as the business owner – you’ll enjoy going to work and be happier in general, which will go a long way to keeping you healthy too.
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