Your parents probably told you to brush your teeth, make your bed, and eat your vegetables every day, so that you’d develop into a healthy adult. What routine tasks are as vitally important to the growth of your company?
Here’s a list of daily must-dos from a few business gurus.
1. Set priorities. Make a list of your priorities daily. “I have clients make a list of 20 things they have to do in the next couple of weeks. I have them break them down into three columns, top priority, priority and routine. Once all items are in the correct column they start with the top priorities and move on to the next column. Creating this tool every evening for some is needed to stay focused on being productive, not busy. There’s a difference,” says Rich Schuttler, author Everyday Leader Heroes. “Failing to plan means they won’t get done. Too many people believe they can manage this without formalization, but few can,” he says.
2. Crunch some numbers. Identify your top three success metrics — and track them daily. These metrics may include: number of new customers, number of repeat orders, inventory of key products, etc. By recording this data daily, you’ll ensure that you stay on track toward meeting your business goals and can address any issues as they occur, says Fred Lizza, CEO of Dydacomp, a provider of order management solutions.
In addition, check sales from the previous day. Small-business owners who don’t know sales from day to day are unaware of what’s happening in real time. “A day without sales is like a day without sunshine, with a storm coming,” Schuttler says.
3. Make customers a priority. Every day, focus on getting more clients or customers. “Too many business owners get bogged down in paperwork, logo design, networking conferences, and the like. The primary thing is getting customers to buy your product or service, keeping them happy and figuring out how to get more,” says Jonathan Watson, media director for RecordsFerret.com, which conducts record searches. Talk to your customers every day.
4. Be present. Walk around. Ask how things are going, and remind staff members that you are available if they have any questions or concerns. Talk — and, more importantly, listen.
“Catch an employee ‘doing something right,’” Lizza advises. “It is important to recognize employees’ successes. Happy employees create happy customers.” Give your people developmental feedback to enhance their performance, too. Don’t wait for an end-of-the-year review.
Use your product or service daily, too. “If you make something, you should try to find a way to use it every day,” says RJ Bardsley, senior vice president at Racepoint Group, a communications agency. How else will you know what you could do better?
5. Read. “A lot of companies I work with are fighting for market share with two or three competitors. A quick news scan in the morning provides context for every discussion you’re going to have throughout the day — with employees, reporters, customers,” Bardsley says.
“The key is to read quickly. Scan three publications, set up a news feed on Google, or set up a reader in WordPress. Spend no more than 15 minutes a day.”
6. Move forward. Realize two things: First, procrastination is a decision, even if your goal is to avoid a decision. Second, your goal needs to be success, not perfection. “When you’re 80 percent ready, go,” says Linda Henman, author of Landing in the Executive Chair.
“Don’t be afraid to take a chance just because you might fail,” says Fran Tarkenton, co-founder of SmallBizClub.com. “Our most important lessons come from failures.”
7. Stop to think. “Business owners can’t be creative and innovative when they’re running around at 100 miles an hour with their hair on fire. Neither can anyone else when they see that in the owner,” Schuttler says. “Go to the gym, take a walk, run, meditate. Find a way to reduce stress and stay healthy.”
Dawn Reshen-Doty, president of Benay Enterprises, adds: Ask yourself, “What can I do today to be a better employer, service provider, or human being? Taking a few minutes to focus on the bigger picture can make everything come into focus.”
8. Look back — and ahead. At the end of each workday, reflect on the day, assess its outcomes, and self-correct the next day what needs to be done better or over. As Schuttler notes, “Failure to review the past often means it gets repeated, and in small businesses, small problems repeated over and over mean disaster.”
Meanwhile, take 30 seconds a day to reflect on where you’re going to be in three years, Bardsley advises. “It’s a good practice, and sometimes provides the inspiration you need to keep moving things forward.”
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