Whether it’s falling into a defeated, downer attitude that keeps us from trying harder or the whole company getting a bit too lax with deadlines or quality, with a new year looming, it’s a good time to push the reset button.
My best advice is to not start with a list of everything that you think is wrong. It just puts your focus on negative habits or attitudes. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t go around obsessing about everything you don’t like about your daily routine. And don’t nitpick with your team.
Instead, adopt positive replacement habits. Here are seven positive business mindsets and habits for success:
1. Focus on the positive. You are what you think about. The best positive habit is to actually start to think positive. Thinking positively by itself is no magic bullet. It’s simply the start of taking charge to lead the company in the right direction.
Count your blessings on all the things that are right in your life and your business. Do that each morning. Slowly, your entire outlook for your business and your life will change. Trying to see things with the glass half full can take practice, so start with things in your everyday routine.
2. Write it down! Being organized doesn’t always come naturally to every person. However, organization is critical to a successful small business, on two levels.
As the owner, the demands on your time are great. The only way to keep from being buried is to be organized. And the same goes for your business. It’s hard to run a profitable and efficient business that is disorganized. Customer service suffers. Profitability suffers from having to do work over or fix mistakes. Employees get frustrated. YOU get frustrated.
One of the best ways to stay organized is by writing things down. Create lists, no matter how trivial they may seem. Then make sure to refer back to your lists, often. Put business processes in writing, too, and go over them with your team often.
3. Plan ahead. Successful business owners know that they need to be prepared for anything thrown their way. But how do you prepare for the unknown? Planning ahead includes planning for contingencies and backup plans. Not only do plans provide predictability, but planning ahead can also help you deal with any unexpected problems that may get thrown your way. When you’re in the midst of a crisis is not the time to be trying to develop plan B.
4. Fix it first. It’s all too easy to immediately blame someone for something gone wrong. However, that only adds to the problem when you’re in the middle of a bad situation. Fix the problem first. Then address the error in private later with some coaching as to what should have been done. Oh, and if it was your mistake, own up to it with your team. Taking responsibility sets the right leadership example for your team.
5. Listen. When you think you know it all, it’s way too easy to shut out the rest of the world. Just think of all that golden advice that is going unheard, because you’re too set in your ways to hear it. Sometimes it’s important to open up your ears, and really listen to what people are telling you. Not only is this an important habit to develop, but it is important for the overall success of your business (and life) as well.
6. Be honest. Ethics play a huge role in business. You may be shocked to think that you’d ever be called dishonest, but it is a slippery slope that starts with white lies when a customer complains or when an employee asks for a raise. Being open and honest helps your business succeed in several ways. Once it is clear that you are ethical and reliable, word of mouth will spread to attract new customers. It also attracts the best employees.
7. Commit. In order for all these habits to become second nature, you need to commit. Make good habits habitual. Set a good example for your team, and they will follow. Prosperous businesses rely on successful habits from all the people within. One way to ensure commitment is to tell others that you are committed to changing something. Announce to your team that this is what the new procedure will be. Or that you will be doing X in the future. And then do it!