Another year is almost over, and 2014 is just days away. Are you really ready to make yourself more productive—and your business more successful—in the new year?
Start by leaving these 13 bad habits behind:
1. Not exercising. When you skip workouts to cram in extra work, your energy, enthusiasm and creativity inevitably suffer. That means you’re working harder, not smarter. Make time every morning (before the pressures of the day get in the way) to do some type of physical activity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an hour-long personal training session or a walk with your dog; what matters is just doing it.
2. Avoiding confrontation. Problem employees will destroy your business if you let them—and too many business owners do just that because they dislike confrontation. Stop ignoring employees who are slacking, stealing or otherwise misbehaving, and discipline them now.
3. Overworking yourself. Burning the midnight oil will eventually burn you out. I know it’s easier said than done, but make this the year you actually get to bed at a reasonable hour. Turn your devices off at least half an hour before bedtime, and don’t bring your laptop into the bedroom.
4. Being a bottleneck. It’s tough to let go, I know. But while doing everything yourself works fine in the startup stage, as your business grows, it impedes growth. Why? Because you can’t keep doing it all, so you become a bottleneck, stifling action and slowing your business down. Make 2014 the year you start delegating at least the small stuff to your team.
5. Making do. Entrepreneurs are naturally cost-conscious, but if you’re making do with a duct-taped laptop or your cell phone’s numbers have faded, it's past time to upgrade. Take a good look at your tools, equipment and systems: It should be pretty easy to pinpoint what’s holding you back and where you need to upgrade. Bonus: This time of year, there are tech deals to be had. Get out there and grab them.
6. Underpricing your product or service. Yes, sometimes you need to cut prices to land that big-name new client or get through a sales slump. But slashing prices can too easily become a dangerous habit, leading you to undervalue yourself—and your customers to do the same. The beginning of a new year is a natural time for a price increase, so if one is justified, start planning how you’ll let customers know. Ease the pain by reminding them of how you’ve helped them in the past so they’ll realize how indispensable you really are.
7. Procrastinating. How much more could you accomplish if you didn’t get distracted on Facebook and Twitter when you’re supposed to be doing social media for your business? Do you avoid big, daunting projects by busying yourself filing papers or working on other insignificant tasks? Each day choose one big task you’ve got to either complete or make significant progress on—then tackle it first thing.
8. Overscheduling. When you pack your schedule full to the brim, the inevitable emergencies throw your day seriously out of whack. Build in at least a few hours of empty time each workday; this way, you’ve got some “wiggle room” when that prospect unexpectedly returns your call or a crisis erupts in the warehouse. This way you won’t spend the rest of the week playing catch-up.
9. Resisting change. Change is happening faster than ever, so rapidly that it can be overwhelming. In such a situation, it’s natural to dig in your heels, but that will only turn you into a dinosaur and enable your competitors to overtake you. Instead, embrace change and make it a point to keep up with industry publications and trends, take seminars, attend conferences and learn something new every month.
10. Ignoring your cash flow. It’s tough to get financing today, which is why it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your cash flow. Use your accounting software to watch it weekly (or even daily), and you’ll be able to spot small problems before they balloon into big ones.
11. Multitasking. If your default mode of operation is writing emails while surfing the Web and talking on the phone at the same time, you need to dial it down. More studies than I can count have shown how multitasking decreases productivity. Sure, you need to multitask once in a while—but in general, try to break the habit. Turn off your email alerts, put your phone on vibrate, or use one of the many programs that keep you from wasting time on social media—whatever it takes to focus long enough to get key tasks done.
12. Being shy. I’m shy myself, but no one who’s met me believes it. That’s because I’m out there networking, giving speeches and meeting new people. That’s what it takes to make a business work. Take baby steps to overcome your shyness by joining one networking group (you can go with a friend if you must) or reaching out to network on social media (this is a great way to start relationships that you can later take offline).
13. Making excuses. As one of my favorite small-business experts, Jon Taffer of SPIKE TV’s show Bar Rescue, says, “I don’t embrace excuses, I embrace solutions.” Stop making excuses for why your business isn’t reaching your goals, and start looking for solutions that will get you there.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!
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