Businesses evolve over time, that's kind of obvious right? Often the way things are done is based simply on habit--on the fact that this is the way they have always been done. Habits can be good or bad. I urge you to look honestly at the way your business operates at every level to see if there are ways that you could improve what you are doing simply by eliminating some of the bad habits that have crept in over time. Or perhaps more specifically, break some bad habits that started long ago and that have now become so ingrained that they are normal, but deep down you wish they weren't.

Very few businesses wouldn't benefit from this kind of appraisal. Sometimes it might take some fresh eyes to come into the business and point out the things you've become blind to (and we all have those). Bad habits can creep into the way we run our business, how we manage it, the records we keep, the way we look after ourselves, the hours we work, how we treat our staff, how we market the business - everything.

In recent years I have read a lot of books by Dr Edward de Bono, the man credited with developing the concept of lateral thinking. I strongly recommend that you read some of his books to help you think about your business and the steps that you take in making business decisions. Fresh eyes can lead to fresh ideas. We need to have our current way of thinking and doing challenged and often that takes an alternative view to really make an impact.

The way you work is another area that is often dictated by old habits. Just because you have been disorganized for 20 years doesn't make it OK. Changing old business and personal habits takes time, energy and a real commitment from you, but at the end of the day you are the one who will benefit the most from improving the way you work.

I got into the habit of working seven days a week, whether I needed to or not. I would waste time during the week because I knew that I could finish off my work on Saturday, but my home life suffered as a result. It took me a while, but I changed my old habits and decided that I would complete all of my work between Monday and Friday, no matter how late I had to work and spend the weekends doing the things that I really enjoy. It really changed my life.

Look at your business and your life, what are the things that really no longer serve you yet you keep doing them out of habit? We need to be honest. We need to be open. We need to be brave enough to admit what the issues. Generally we need a plan of some sort to change these habits and we need to give this time. But we have to start with taking the time out and a step back and figure out what is working and what is not.

The upside is that when we start to address some of the old habits that no longer serve us, very good things start to happen. We get on a bit of a roll and start changing more and more, which generally leads to us have a much better business and a much better life. It just has to start somewhere.