Just because the calendar year flips over on January 1 doesn’t mean your mind needs to also. It’s a new year — time to reflect on what’s behind and get excited about what’s ahead. Maybe you spent all of 2022 pushing all day, all 365 days, and set your customers on the path to promoting your business from the rooftops and backyards.
But if we know anything about you — and we think we do! — there’s always that hope to do it “even better if…” You’re restless for some mindset that allows you to account for your energy, and give it a purpose. Slap a label on it and make your year work for you and your business, not against you.
These labels are simply habits. And if you haven’t reflected on whether you spend your energy intentionally or not, consider this an invitation to introduce some of the most critical habits all small business owners should start.
It starts with you: Sleep, Exercise and Eat Right
Burning the candle at both ends. Running on empty. Spreading oneself too thin. Wearing yourself to a shadow. Biting off more than you can chew.
For so many reasons, that needs to be a primary habit to break in the new year. Start simple with a consistent bedtime, walking five to six times a week, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Think of this in terms of what you get to do, and flip the script. Your body is begging you for some small changes. The returns on that investment are through the roof.
Juice up that brain: Learn, Learn, Learn!
Fueled brains are primed for big audacious goal setting, so you need to make sure your brain is getting the right inputs. The best leaders have a learners mind, humbling themselves to allow even more for their businesses. Keep this manageable. Sign up for one conference, virtual or in-person. Pick a couple of books to finish. Find just one podcast about your industry, customer experience, or leadership. And just watch how your smarticles grow!
Keep it shiny: Vision & Goals
Now that you’ve taken care of mind and body, you’re primed to set some maintenance habits and ensure you and your team keep themselves aligned. Hopefully your business’s vision is front and center, but don’t fret if it’s not- most of us let vision get sidelined in the day to day. A simple habit is to make sure yearly goals make sense when read as the “we will” to the “we are” of your vision. And create rhythm in your calendar to check back often, reading both your vision and goals at the same time. Don’t make this a painful task, either. It should be a simple pulse check. If it’s not, you’re just asking for a habit quickly forgotten!
Serve! Your Customer
The simple truth is most businesses have strong plans, but forget to keep their most important player at the absolute forefront: their customer. Get back to your roots! Businesses exist to solve problems for those buying their goods. The easiest habit you can implement today for every effort you take is to ask “What problem am I trying to solve?” and make sure the customer is somewhere in that equation. Even internal problems, when framed right, should ultimately be to the service of the one you serve. Pro tip: it’s also a magical question to ask when projects go the way of the chaos monster.
While you’re at it, solving problems and taking down names, you’re going to notice this permission to focus on the customer trickles all over the place. You’ll think about marketing different, how you communicate (Here’s a callback if you’re looking for help writing customer emails), and how you interact directly. One habit, lots of benefits!
Serve! Your Team
If you’re running a small business and employ humans, you know you’ve got to get this right. Not only is attrition a costly trend, but unhappy humans mean unhappy clients and customers. Repeat: employee experience is customer experience! If you said it daily, maybe that alone would be the perfect lens when that high stress moment on a Tuesday in May gives you an opportunity to win or lose an employee. Realistically, this looks like spending some time reflecting on what it means to be excellent rather than perfect. Perfection is the enemy of good, but excellence often comes with a version of perfection not attained by perfection alone. Review your metrics, policies, and overall culture and ask yourself “is this excellent?” Do this regularly. Be in the habit of being honest with yourself and remember that excellence includes kindness and empathy in addition to performance. And as a leader? It includes existing to serve those you employ.
Make Room: Create Margin
Life is a never-ending process of creating boundaries and learning how to say yes to the right things, rather than focusing on what you’re saying no to. So, before you finish reading this list of habits and risk seeing this as even MORE you have to do, we invite you to start here: create the space for greatness. Do whatever it takes at the start of the year to find a few hours of sit down, allowing yourself a chance to evaluate where the time gremlins are robbing you blind. We promise that if you get in the habit of taking care of yourself and the people you serve, keeping that as your main focus, the margin comes.
We won’t be surprised if you find your gremlins have their hands all over their main victims of time and technology, ensuring both of these things are all out of whack in your life. Consider:
- Block scheduling, because multi-tasking is a farse. Reserve critical time for your family each day, where it’s only for them. Set aside several hours a week for strategy and alignment in your business. Evaluate meetings and check out resources for better facilitation. And for all that is good in life, budget enough time in for extended family and friends – you need them to survive. Just stop trying to do it all without a plan, and at once!
- Boxing in your pings, alerts and banners. Start by looking in your settings and being a little more judicious with what flies across your screen. Turn audio off unless you need it for accessibility reasons. Use the silence function on your phone. Close laptops and turn phones over when you’re with another human. And have SaneBox do the dirty work for you in your inbox, so you never even see the stuff you don’t need.