Maybe business is good. Maybe it's bad. Whatever the current state of your business, it can always be better. Despite the best intentions of every business owner or manager, there's a lot of ways your current approach is restricting the business's potential for growth.
We get on autopilot, which makes it hard to realize all the little things we do or don't do that support or restrain growth. If we really want to focus on growth, then we need to develop the positive behaviors that set us for success. This isn't about implementing any specific strategy or tactic, but building and maintaining the right habits. When we do that, we position ourselves to easily pivot where and when needed to take advantage of opportunity even though we don't know where that is right now. Here are five bad habits that are holding your business growth back and how to get rid of them with more productive habits.
1. Staying in your comfort zone. When you spend each day focusing only on the day-to-day operations, you're not even laying the groundwork for future growth. There are too many clichés here. You can't see the forest for the trees. If you're not moving forwards, you're moving backwards. yadda yadda yadda. But they're true.
Break out of your routine by taking risks. Don't just wait for the risks to find you. Deliberately find ways to challenge yourself and your preconceptions about where your business should or could go. I put staying in your comfort zone as the first bad habit because the other four bad habits all conspire to keep us in our comfort zone. If you want to leave comfort behind and embrace risk, you need to quit these next behaviors too.
2. Negative thinking. One of the biggest barriers to taking risk is fear of failure. Negative attitudes and thinking tell us all the reasons why making a move won't pay off. Or worse, we'll come off as stupid or overreaching. Frankly, almost everybody suffers from imposter syndrome
But the consequences of negative thinking are deeper than just not taking risks or making big moves. Your negative attitude is bringing everyone else around you down too, especially as a leader. Your employees take their cues from you. If you're constantly squashing your employees' creativity and enthusiasm, your business will be stuck with 9-to-5'ers who want to do just enough not to screw up. You can't experience business growth on your own. You need an engaged, proactive team. Turning off negative thinking doesn't just happen. It takes some work. Look for assistance to find out will work for you to develop a stronger positive attitude.
3. Not reading. I said earlier, don't wait for the risks and opportunities to come to you. You need to find them. You can only do that by reading a lot. Keeping up with what's new in technology, social media, and relevant These are your starting points. At a minimum, you have to stay current on the trends and news in your own industry.
But don't leave it there. You never know what will spark an idea. Read about related industries. Dig deeper into some of your own interests and learn about the people who excel in them. Diving into history, and even fictional worlds, can turn our own perspective on its head and help us see things in a new way. Focus on being a knowledgeable expert in your own field and industry, but step out of your comfort zone from time to time when selecting reading materials too.
4. Back burner projects. How many back burner projects do you have? How long have they been there? It's usually our negative thinking that keeps us procrastinating. Fear can hold us back. Sometimes, we pretend we're not procrastinating. We're just really busy. Some research has found the subconscious motivation for procrastination is just that we prefer the pleasure of the now over making progress on some delayed gratification.
Some quick tips to end the procrastination: I like the "3-minute rule." What can you do in the next three minutes to make progress of whatever you're avoiding? Do that. Do something. You don't need to take care of it all in one sitting. You probably couldn't. Just take action and let that momentum build. If you really need more time, what would happen if you got up an hour earlier each day? If you're already an early riser, what are you spending time on that you can delegate to someone else. What would you do with that hour once you got it back?
5. Not setting goals. You can't grow your business if you don't know where you want to take it. Setting goals stretches your expectations and gives you a fixed mark to focus on. But there's a difference between setting goals and fantasizing about doing better. You can't just dream about growing.
Setting SMART goals is the most effective way to frame a goal, and expectation, and a plan to achieve it. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timelined. Specific, measurable, and timelined are pretty self-explanatory. When I say "achievable," I don't mean easy. Your goals should push you, definitely. But don't set yourself up for failure. If you ultimately want to open branch offices in every state, that's great. But don't plan to do it within the next six months. "Relevant" is a critical piece to making sure your goal is relevant to a larger objective or strategy. Maybe you set a goal to hire 10 more employees this year. Great. Why? What are they going to do? Any goal should have a straight connection back to a purpose that's directly contributing to a growth objective.
And yeah, write 'em down.
So stop procrastinating. What's one thing you can do today that starts breaking one of these bad habits? Do it. Now you've started breaking two of them. Keep going.