A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
All of us have biases, blind spots and flaws in our thinking that distort the way we see the world. As an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions every day that impact the health of your business and, in turn, affect your employees, your family and your own well-being. For that reason, it's important to develop critical thinking skills that can identify and remove habits of thought that might prevent you from reaching your goals.
Critical thinking is "a way to routinely and consistently seek problems in your thinking," says Linda Elder, an educational psychologist and president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. One such problem is considering issues only from your own perspective. With this limited view, you could end up putting out a product that nobody wants, or overspending on some aspect of your business when there is a more efficient solution that you didn't see. "Irrational thought is often unconscious," Elder says. "When we articulate our thoughts, we have a better chance to detect distorted thinking." More: How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Better Business Decisions
Copy yourself on sent emails to make it easy to follow up.
For most of us, email is essential. It can also be a major time waster. One way to turn your email into a tool that boosts rather than drains your productivity is to create a helpful follow-up system for yourself on important emails, says Jason Womack, founder of the Womack Company, an Ojai, Calif.-based productivity-training firm. "For example, let's say I email someone requesting website analytics," Womack says. "I know I want to follow up with them if I don't hear back by tomorrow afternoon, so I simply BCC myself. When that email comes to my inbox, I can then easily move or tag it to a folder labeled 'follow up.'" Checking this folder regularly allows you to stay on top of crucial tasks. More: How to Transform Your Email into a Productivity Tool
Set 'crazy' sales targets.
To keep yourself motivated, sales expert and popular author Grant Cardone advises setting a target for yourself that is 10 times what the top achievers in your market are reaching. Cardone applies this tactic to sales, but you could also apply it to other areas, such as the number of users who sign up for your service compared to competing services. "Seems crazy, right?" Cardone says. "It was. I never hit my target, but I did get in the top 1 percent of all the sales people in [my] industry." More: How to Maximize Every Sales Opportunity
Warn customers in advance to protect yourself from liability.
One of an entrepreneur's worst nightmares is being personally liable for an injury that happened on your business property. Mark Kohler, a partner in the law firm Kyler, Kohler, Ostermiller, & Sorensen LLP, recalls a client whose customer slipped and fell on a patch of ice and broke his arm while heading into the client's office. Fortunately, Kohler's client was protected. He was able to demonstrate in court that he had a policy for removing snow and ice regularly and that he had repeatedly warned customers about the slippery ice outside his office. If you can show that you weren't negligent, it's more likely a judge will rule to keep your personal wealth out of the lawsuit. More: How to Protect Your Personal Finances From Business Risks
Look for inspiration and talent everywhere.
World-famous lifestyle icon Martha Stewart always has her eyes peeled for new talent and for design ideas that could influence her homewares collections. Through her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she publishes popular books and magazines and has more than 8,000 products in thousands of retail stores, according to the company. Stewart looks for artists and craftsmen to feature in her magazines at events like the Smithsonian Craft Show, she says. Whether you're looking to make a new hire or simply hoping to be inspired, you can follow her example by attending local meetup groups, hackathons and trade shows. More: 4 Secrets for Lifelong Success From Martha Stewart