28 Best Habits to Have in Business
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
The world's most successful businesses are run by entrepreneurs who harbor the right habits to ensure their longevity and staying power in the marketplace. The truth is that so much of our behavior comes from the habits that we employ on a daily basis, effectively determining our potential to excel in any line of work.
In fact, habits are an undeniably powerful part of life in general, governing much of our behavior. From the way we think, to the way we feel and the way we act, the habits that we employ have a massive impact on our potential for success. Some habits that are the best to have in life, others are the best to have in business.
Any business owner who's committed to achieving financial success needs to ensure that they're employing the right habits in business. Clearly, in business, bad habits can quickly ruin you, destroy your reputation and wipe out any chances for eventual success. On the other hand, good habits, when persistently applied, can ultimately create monumental success.
What are the best habits to have in business?
Considering that eight out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months of operations and only 4 percent of businesses make it to the 10-year mark, the habits you employ in business can quite literally make or break you. This isn't some subjective list. Rather, it's based on empirical data from the world's most successful entrepreneurs.
If you focus on building up a large majority of these 28 best habits to have in business, you'll all-but guarantee your long-term success. But don't expect to achieve financial freedom overnight. It will take time. But as long as you persistently apply these habits, success will eventually come.
How many of the following habits are you employing right now in your life? Take an audit of them and see which ones you can easily incorporate into your daily routine in an effort to achieve long-term business success.
1. Wake up early.
Success in business requires true effort and grit, along with steadfast concentration. Considering that most of us are usually so caught up and chaotic during the day, we need those early morning hours to really focus our minds on the day ahead. There's no better habit for achieving your goals, whether personal or professional, than waking up early.
How much earlier you ask? At least two hours earlier than you are right now. In fact, some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs wake up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. every single day without fail. But if you're not a morning person, you might find some difficulty with instilling this habit.
If you're serious about waking up early and you want to make this behavior habitual, use the micro-changes approach. Set your clock back gradually every single week by 15 minutes so that you slowly move towards your time goal. This is far more effective than attempting to wake up two or three hours earlier instantly within a day or so.
2. Hour of power
Anthony Robbins refers to the initial part of the day as being the most important, when all of the so-called magic happens. It's a time for pure focus and clarity. But once you achieve the habit of waking up early, you need time to yourself in order to get your health, wellness and mind in sync.
Take the time to interweave a powerful early morning routine into your day where you can focus your efforts on the tasks ahead and enact some kind of exercise and incantation routine. Start with just 10 minutes per day with this habit and allow it to grow and morph into your hour of power over time.
Keep in mind that it takes 18 to 254 days for habits to solidify in the mind, and you can't expect to go from zero to hero overnight. Take the long term micro-changes approach to any habit, including your hour of power, if you want to ensure that you see things through and don't get frustrated with the difficulties that might ensue by trying to do too much too fast.
3. Stay inspired.
Considering the difficulties involved with building a notable business, it's important to stay inspired. Find something that inspires you every single day, whether it's an audiobook, a TED Talk, or a blog post that will help you keep all pistons firing at full steam.
For most people, it helps to find someone who's achieved the success that they're after, and model after them. They search for any material they can find from that person, in an effort to keep them focused on the proverbial prize. Find your source of inspiration. Seek it out every single morning. And stay focused on your dreams.
The truth is that some of the most famous people who've failed in business, have also been the most successful. They stayed inspired. They kept the dream alive in their minds. Without that daily source of inspiration, success wouldn't have been possible.
4. Set daily business goals.
Anyone who's serious about achieving monumental success in business needs to set business goals. But not just long-term business goals. They need to set goals for their business every single day. These act like markers or milestones on the way to the bigger, and more out-of-reach goals that seem so far off.
Setting daily goals for your business should be done early in the morning when your mind is fresh. Come up with a metric that you can measure and ensure that you work towards that end every single day. Break down your longer-term goals into daily goals so that you can have a short-term target towards accomplishing your dreams.
5. Achieve inbox zero.
Studies confirm that clutter results in a loss of focus. Not just physical clutter. Today, it's also the virtual clutter in our lives that helps to decrease our ability to focus. And, more often than not, our email inboxes are a complete disaster, cluttered with a million things that range from spam all the way up to important items that require our attention.
Make it a habit to sort, organize and discard emails as soon they come in. Setup filters and rules if you have to and take advantage of automation that exists through some of the largest email providers. Even if you don't have all that automation, you should make it a priority to keep your inbox empty nearly at all times.
Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People
6. Manage your time.
One of the best habits to have in business by far is the effective management of your time. How you use your time says a lot about how successful you are. Do you waste your time and squander it on activities that you could easily cut out of your life such as endlessly surfing the internet or binge watching television series?
Considering that we all have the same amount of time in this world, and that more time can't be saved or created as is the case with money, once we use that time, it's gone forever. Come up with a good system for managing your time and stick to it. Don't get distracted or dissuaded. Stay focused so that you can achieve your goals.
7. Chase the frog.
In a recent book entitled, Chasing the Frog: How to Succeed in Life with an Empowering Morning Routine, I spoke at great length about something Mark Twain referred to as eating the frog. It simply means that you have to tackle your biggest and most important tasks (MITs) of the day first.
If you can get in the habit of writing down two or three of the most important things that you need to do the following morning, and do that the night before, you can wake up and be prepared to tackle those things. Your MITs should be the items that move you closest to your long-term goals.
8. Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20-Rule, states that 80 percent of the results comes from 20 percent of the efforts. In business, this is an invaluable resource and tool for effectively scaling out your numbers. In sales, this also states that 80 percent of the income comes from 20 percent of the customers.
Not only that, but within that 20 percent, the 80/20-Rule also holds true, meaning that 80 percent of the income from the 20 percent also comes from 20 percent. That means 4 percent, or a very small percentage of customers, are driving a large majority of the sales. Find your 80/20-Rule in sales or in anywhere else in your business and scale it out every single day.
9. Track and analyze.
As a plane travels from one point in the world to another, it tracks and analyzes its progress moment-by-moment. It knows its speed, altitude, direction of travel and a million other factors, every second during that journey. Because the plane knows that, it can make adjustments when necessary in order to reach its goal of arriving on time.
The point? The more detailed the metrics, and the more often you track things, the more likely you'll be to move towards your goals and know what's working and what's not. Pick a metric for your business and track it every single day without fail. Or, track it every hour of the day. Do whatever it takes to analyze and understand what's working and what's not.
Success in business has very much to do with networking. It's not always about what you know, what you have, or what you're even capable of, it's who you know that can really make the difference. Clearly, most people understand this, but not everyone enlists the habit of networking into their daily routines.
Network every single day. Spend at least one hour meeting with people, speaking with people, or collaborating with people and find out where you can add value to the equation. Don't look for something in return. Simply try to help others. Find ways to guide people in the right direction and add value to their business. Eventually, they'll come around to help you or introduce you to someone who will make an earth-shattering difference in your business.
11. Connect with people.
Often, we're so caught up in trying to make a buck, that we forget to connect with others. This isn't just about connecting with customers. Sure, that's important. This is about simply connecting with others on a deeper level, not a superficial one. Ask them about their lives and learn something new. Maybe you'll walk away with a great story or learning experience.
Seek out ways you can connect with people that are already in your life along with finding others that aren't already in your life. Listen to them when they speak. Be inquisitive. Be curious. Learn about their lives. Figure out what makes them tick. You'll feel mentally, spiritually and emotionally more sated, allowing you to better focus your mind's eye on the proverbial prize.
12. Add value.
Too many people are in business solely for profit. Sure, profit is important. Money makes the world go round. But the most successful people and the most prominent businesses have added the most value in the world. If you're not adding value in business, you're wasting your time.
Don't try to cut corners or take shortcuts. You have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return if you want to experience true success. Not the other way around. Constantly search for ways you can add value. Forget about your personal financial problems or goals at the outset. Sounds counterproductive, but it's the best long-term strategy for achieving massive business success.
13. Ask questions.
Children are so curious. They ask millions of questions about the most basic things. Their little minds are trying to make sense of the big wide world around them. However, as adults, we often stop asking questions. We live in this little bubble where we think we know the answers to everything. Largely, this is born out of ego, but it's highly destructive in business.
To truly succeed, you need to ask questions. Lots of questions. Make it habitual. Ask questions about everything. And listen to the answers. Listen to the perspectives of others. Don't simply ask the question for the sake of asking them. Heed the advice given. Understand and learn from the firsthand knowledge of others.
14. Journal your thoughts.
Journaling is one of the best habits to have, both in life and in business. By journaling your thoughts for 15 minutes each day, you can peer into your subconscious mind. The best part? You can look back a year or two from now and see what you were thinking or feeling on any given day.
Journaling can also help you to think about and hone your desires in business. What are you trying to achieve? Why do you want to achieve it? What's holding you back and how are you feeling on a day-to-day basis? It's a powerful forum where you can be honest with yourself without having to worry about feedback from others.
Related: 3 Tough Habits You Must Drop to Succeed\
15. Focus on positivity.
It's important to stay positive in business. The fact of the matter is that anything we focus on we move towards. However, in business, it's very easy to focus on negativity. It's easy to worry about the financial problems, the lack of sales, the lack of an advertising budget, the lack of good employees or anything else for that matter. But focusing on negativity will only beget more negativity.
The mind moves towards that which it focuses on. No matter what the situation, you have to find a silver lining. Even if you've failed or feel like a failure, as long as you stay persistent and don't give up, you'll eventually succeed. But you have to stay positive. You have to focus on all the good things rather than the bad things. That's at the essence of long-term success.
16. Contribute your time.
We're often so enthralled and engaged in our businesses, that we forget to contribute our time to others that are in need. There are so many people out there who lack the basic necessities in life such as food, shelter or clothing, that it's important that we do something to help those around us.
Contributing your time to those that are in need won't instantly equate to business success. No, it's far more important than that. It will add value to the lives of others, which will in turn make you feel like a better person, more able to focus on your tasks at hand. It shouldn't always be about a direct correlation of your time spent for money earned. Life is far more precious than that.
17. Follow a budget.
It's important to follow a budget in business. The truth is that expenses can balloon outside of our control when we fail to pay attention to the details. When we don't sweat the small stuff, the small stuff sweats us. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship."
Come up with a budget for your business and follow it strictly. Don't deviate from it. Stay in line and control your impulses. Ensure that you have sufficient cash flow to commit to things like advertising and sales, employees and taxes, and so on. This is an incredibly important habit to have in business.
Related: 8 Habits of Wildly Successful People
18. Consult with a mentor.
In business, you need a mentor. You need to find someone who's achieved the success that you're after. Plain and simple. And you need to consult with that person on a daily basis. Every single day if you possibly can, you need to have a brief conversation and tell your mentor the challenges that you're experiences and how you're feeling.
A business mentor can offer invaluable insight into the world of commerce and success in business, far beyond what any of us could imagine. We're so consumed by the day-to-day that we fail to step outside of that and work on our businesses rather than in our businesses. A mentor will help you work on your business, not just in it.
19. Emulate success.
I was always wholeheartedly a fan of emulating success. I would find someone who was already successful in the industry or niche that I was competing in, and I would do my best to emulate from their successes. This is one of the so-called hacks that you can implement in business to succeed.
However, emulation shouldn't be misconstrued for copying or duplication. You need to be unique. But look at what others are doing to achieve success. How are they approaching the market? Where are they advertising? How much value are they adding? Be a constant sleuth and seek out the best of the best, and try to emulate from their strengths.
20. Take action.
Clearly, success can only come if you take action. But not just little action. Massive amounts of action. However, the truth is that most people don't take action. They procrastinate. How can someone eliminate procrastination from their lives and ensure that they move towards their goals rather than being stifled and held back?
Clearly, some of this has to do with how much you want your goals. Beyond that, it's simply habit formations. Use the 15-minute rule to break the pattern. Set your timer on your phone to 15 minutes and do the one thing you've been putting off the longest. Only for 15 minutes. Why just 15 minutes? It's too small of a goal to fail at. But what you'll also find is that you'll likely keep going after those 15 minutes. If you don't, at least you broke the pattern of inaction.
In business, it's often important to reflect on what you've achieved or accomplished. Even if you feel as though you haven't accomplished much, you should reflect on where you started. Reflection is an important habit to have, allowing you to look back and ponder the meaning that you've associated to your goals.
Spend some time reflecting every day. Go for a walk and think about things. Talk to a friend. Go for a drive along the coast. Do anything else you normally do while simply reflect back on things. This allows you to mentally step away from what's going on in your life and to look at things from another perspective.
22. Be grateful.
Gratitude is an important habit to have, both in life and in business. We have to be grateful for what we have. Even if we feel like all we have are problems, we have to exercise gratitude. By being grateful, we open up the pathway towards eventual success.
The fact is that there's a reason why we have problems. There's a reason why we have to endure challenges and suffer setbacks. It allows us to grow and mature. Both in life and in business. Be grateful for everything, always. Don't allow problems to suffocate you and take away your joy in life and work.
23. Respect others.
If you're serious about true long-term success in business, you have to respect others. Don't treat them poorly. Don't talk behind their backs. Don't make them feel like they're incompetent or insufficient. Don't do anything that's going to make people feel like bad about themselves.
The golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is pure truth. If you don't want others to treat you poorly, don't treat them that way. Be kind and nice. Be considerate and understanding. It doesn't take much effort. In fact, it takes more of your energy to be mean and angry.
24. Improve your skills.
We have to constantly be learning and evolving, becoming better at our crafts while also adding other ancillary skills that can help us in business. Don't be afraid to continue learning, whether it's in your line of work or a completely different line of work. That information can benefit you enormously down the road.
Find skills that you can learn and commit to improving a little bit each and every single day. Even if you only spend 20 minutes per day learning a new skill or even a new language, you can vastly improve your business prospects over time. It won't happen quickly. But it will eventually happen as long as you stay committed.
25. Plan obsessively.
Anyone who's serious about achieving their business goals needs to plan obsessively towards them. How are you going to get from one point to the next? What are you going to do in order to achieve your goals? The people who create a plan are far more likely to achieve their goals.
Take the time to create your master plan and refer back to it often. If you need to, make amendments to the plan as you move towards your goals. If you're already tracking and analyzing, you can easily adjust your plan mid-route in order to ensure you eventually reach your goals.
26. Be mindful.
Everyone who's serious about success in business needs to be mindful of their actions. This isn't just about respecting others; this is about respecting yourself, the environment and the world out there. Be mindful of your actions. Don't do things that would be deemed illegal or inappropriate in business like lying, cheating or stealing.
As long as we're mindful of our actions, and we do things the right way, without trying to cut corners and take shortcuts, as painful as it might seem, it will pay off down the road. Your reputation in business will improve over time and people will believe in you.
27. Do something you love.
Do something you love every day. Do you love to paint? Walk along the beach? Ride a bike? When's the last time you did those things? When is the last time you did those things? What's stopping you from doing it? We're usually so consumed by our goals that we forget to focus on ourselves.
Simply do something you love every single day without fail. Make it part of your routine. Success in business isn't just about work, work, work; it's also about personal health and wellbeing. Focus on doing one thing that you truly love to do, or even find a way to incorporate it into your work. Your future self and your business will thank you for it.
28. Ask for help.
No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. People crash and burn and fail all the time. It's the nature of business and it's the nature of life. But the thing that separates the world's most successful entrepreneurs from others is their ability to ask for help. They put their ego in the backseat and they reach out to others around them.
It's difficult to ask for help from others. It often only comes at rock bottom when we're in the most dire straits. But no one should wait until then. Asking for help and consulting with experts and advisors on a regular basis should be commonplace, not something out of the norm.