Start The Year Strong — Adopt These 9 Money-Making Habits for Entrepreneurial Success in 2024 An entrepreneur of 20-plus years reveals his 9 money-making habits to keep growing his business year after year.
- 1. Start the day at 5 am
- 2. Do accounting
- 3. Visit clients
- 4. Read and listen
- 5. Play squash
- 6. Lean into AI
- 7. Focus on people
- 8. Meet with my accountant in May and September
- 9. Enjoy family
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I'm not a billionaire, and I don't run a huge company. My ten-person tech consulting firm is small — tiny compared to many others. But I've been running it for more than two decades, and it's provided a very good livelihood for my family. As 2023 ends, I'm already getting ready for 2024. And I'm re-affirming these nine tried and true habits that I've practiced over the years to ensure that I'm able to still grow and profit.
1. Start the day at 5 am
I've been getting up at 5 am since, well, forever. The early morning is the time when I'm most productive. Everyone's asleep in the house. There are no emails or phone calls. I can focus on writing and other deeper thinking exercises. I do this right away after I get up. I get more done between 5 am and 7 am than most parts of the day.
2. Do accounting
Running a business involves passion and commitment. But in the end, the most important thing is math. Maybe I'm too subjective because I'm a certified public accountant, but I've found that my best and most profitable clients know their numbers. They watch sales daily. They get cash flow reports weekly. The track job costs. They analyze margins. Because my business is a service business, I look closely at chargeable and non-chargeable hours each week. Suppose the numbers are great, then great. If not, then I have to do something about them.
3. Visit clients
Maybe I'm too old school, but I've found that I always close more sales, and I keep longer-term relationships when I meet people face to face. Online meetings definitely serve a purpose. But humans physically like to be with humans. So, I'll continue to try my best to get out of my cocoon and meet with clients, go to events, network and interact with other humans in the real world.
4. Read and listen
I'll continue to read fiction and will defend that practice because it's not only an escape, but it helps me learn more about human behavior. But I'll also be reading a few choice business, history and biography books this year too. Also, as I walk and drive, I will continue to listen to my preferred business and technology podcasts - like Planet Money, Lex Fridman, WSJ's Money Briefing, and Freakonomics - as well as a few of my favorites like Smartless just to keep me laughing.
5. Play squash
Yes, I play squash about two to three times a week. I've been doing it for years, and it's a competitive calorie burner. When I'm unable to play, I ride my bike. The point is I exercise. I do this in the middle of the day sometimes. It breaks the pattern and frees up my head. And it's good for my body. I look forward to these activities. Exercise is critical for any entrepreneur. Getting the blood circulating and being active are keys to a long life and a balanced mind.
6. Lean into AI
AI will dominate my technology strategy this year. I'm digging deep into my CRM and accounting software and researching with my vendors what AI tools they're rolling out to save me time and help my people be more productive. I write and speak on the topic, too, so I'll continue to devote a significant amount of time researching and staying up to speed on these very fast-moving developments. AI will be as transformative to my business as the mobile device was fifteen years ago, and I don't want to ignore this important, disruptive trend.
7. Focus on people
I only have about ten employees and contractors, so it's not that hard. But these people are core to my life, my business, my financial security. They interface with my clients, prospect for new work and manage my finances. I need to make sure I'm spending time with everyone and hearing their issues. I also want to ensure that I'm providing them with good compensation and benefits. I've been very lucky to have a loyal crew over the years because I tend to overpay. I want to keep doing that.
8. Meet with my accountant in May and September
Even though I'm a CPA, I don't do my own taxes because I'm terrible at it. But I do recognize — sadly — that my tax bite takes up between 20-30% of my total income when you consider federal, state and city rates. The tax rules are shifting this year, and we're potentially facing significant changes after 2025, when many of the 2017 Tax and Jobs Act provisions expire. My best clients are always planning ahead and devising strategies that grow their businesses while minimizing tax liabilities, and I'll be doing the same.
9. Enjoy family
Time goes fast, and everyone's busy. It's easy to let the day's tasks take priority. And before you know it...you're old, and so is everyone else. I don't know a single successful business owner who doesn't have the backing of their family, and that family includes friends, neighbors and community. They advise. They criticize. They get on my nerves. But I can't imagine running a business without that support system.
If you practice these nine habits, will that mean you will become a multi-zillionaire on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine? Just look at me, and you'll have your answer – it's not likely. There's no guarantee that by doing these things you'll be successful in 2024. But for whatever it's worth, these practices have helped me to grow a very good business that has provided for my family over the past twenty years. They work for me. So the odds are good that they can work for you, too.