None of us are perfect—we all make mistakes. The key is to not repeat them.
Yet there are plenty of us who continually do the wrong thing—and sometimes we’re not even aware we’re doing it. But whether you’re guilty of letting your travel receipts pile up (guilty!), ignoring social media as a way to market your business or not checking employee references, you need to break the bad business habits that are restricting your growth.
Not sure you have any bad habits? Take a look at these five bad business habits—you're sure to find at least one you're guilty of committing. You'll also discover the tools you need to help you establish healthy new habits to get you out of your bad habit rut.
Breaking Bad ... Habits
Bad Habit #1: Not protecting your data. According to the 2013 Shred-it Information Security Tracker survey, 69 percent of small-business owners are unaware or don't believe their companies experience a financial impact if their data is lost or stolen. Forty percent don’t have protocols in place to secure data, about 33 percent don’t train their staff about information security procedures, and 48 percent don’t have anyone on staff who's responsible for the management of data security.
This isn't just a bad habit—it’s a dangerous one. All businesses need to regularly back up their data, create policies for employee use of social media and the Internet, and install software to monitor and protect their networks. The FCC’s Small Biz Cyber Planner can help you create a customized cyber security plan for your business.
Bad Habit #2: Sleepless nights. We all wish we had more hours in the day. But it’s a bad idea to create them by burning the midnight oil (even though I’m writing this at 2:30 in the morning). Studies show that sleeping less than five hours a day doubles your risk of heart attacks or strokes. The good news is that even one night of restful sleep can make a big difference in your performance. Regular exercise, healthy eating habits and a consistent bedtime routine all help make it easier to wind down at the end of the day.
Bad Habit #3: Ignoring mobile marketing. Most (98 percent) small businesses don't have mobile-optimized sites, making them “woefully unprepared” for the mobile revolution, according to a study done last year by vSplash, a company that provides digital marketing services. This, despite the fact that 86 million Americans use their smartphones to get retail information and 62 percent use them to help them shop at least once a month. And we’re not talking chump change here. Research firm eMarketer reports that retail sales from mobile devices will top $38 billion this year, climb to $52 billion next year and soar to $109 billion by 2017. Check with your web host; they can probably help you create a mobile site. Be sure to ask them about responsive design, which provides users with an optimal viewing experience by offering easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.
Bad Habit #4: Not having a blog on your website. If it seems like just too much work to put a blog on your site, consider this: Adding fresh original content to your site—several times a week is ideal—will help you rise organically in search engine rankings. And Internet marketing company Hubspot reports businesses that blog as little as one or two times a month generate 70 percent more leads than companies that don’t have a blog. Those that boosted their blogging from three to five times monthly to six to eight times a month almost doubled their number of leads. Stressed about what to write? Think about what customers want from you: tips, inside info and news.
Bad Habit #5: Thinking short term. As small-business owners, we’re constantly busy putting out fires, as well as having to deal with the day-to-day duties of running our businesses. But if you don’t set aside time to sit, think and plan for your company’s future, you might not have one. Schedule some time every week, even if it’s only an hour, to review your business’s progress and your goals. And make time once a quarter (at minimum) to get out of the office for an uninterrupted, in-depth strategy session with your key people.
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