During the past holiday break, I had the opportunity to read a number of great books. Some fiction (I love mystery novels), but most were business related, and one was all about habits. Everyone has habits. Some are good habits, such as taking your vitamins every morning, while others are not so good, like eating a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce every night before bedtime. At the start of a new year, many of us resolve to break those bad habits and live a better life. However, according to researchers, the majority of us aren’t successful. Despite our good intentions, by mid-February, we’re back to the same old way of doing things.
As I was thinking about habits, I realized that we also have habits in the way we manage our small businesses. Every business owner has a way of doing things, and may not even be able to explain why they do it that way, other than it’s just the way things are done. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re busy with the day-to-day operations of running your business.
Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit, and the beginning of a new year is a great time to get a fresh start. So in addition to your personal resolutions, why not take a close look at your small business and think about bad habits you could resolve to change. Are certain aspects of your business running on auto-pilot? Are you guilty of procrastinating too much? Are you sloppy with tracking your financials?
No matter what bad habits are limiting your small business success, don’t overwhelm yourself. In order to be successful in changing behaviors for the better, tackle it a little at a time. Choose one habit that you’re ready to break and focus on it. Often a change in one behavior serves as a foundation for additional breakthroughs.
Set realistic goals for yourself, too. For example, if your office is a disorganized mess, don’t try to dramatically change everything at once. Instead, choose one aspect, such as your filing system, and get it under control.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help in breaking your old habits. You may need someone with more experience to provide some guidance, or perhaps a buddy could help keep you on track. Consider partnering with another business owner and hold each other accountable.
Experts say it takes 21 to 28 days to break a habit. Personally, I believe it takes much longer. But the point is, habits are much easier to make than they are to break, and the longer you’ve been in business, the more difficult it will be. Don’t get frustrated if you falter a few times. Stay focused on your success. Here’s hoping 2013 is a prosperous year for your small business.
What habits are you trying to break in managing your small business? How will your bottom line benefit if you are successful?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.