Why You Should Commit to Small Daily Improvements and Other Must-Read Business Tips
A look at why big goals start with small actions, how falling in love with boredom helps you stay driven and more advice for business owners.
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A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
Big goals don't provide immediate gratification. To reach them, you have to commit to small improvements in your daily habits, says Jeff Olson, founder and chief executive of Nerium International, a direct-sales company selling skincare products, and the author of The Slight Edge (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013). "By altering your course toward the positive by one percent on a consistent, daily basis, you'll reach a level of achievement in that area that will not only be doubled, but more than tripled within one year," Olson says.
One way to implement this method is to write out your No. 1 goal for 2014, and then figure out steps you can take for each quarter, month, week and day toward that goal. "Your inclination will be to focus on the big-picture steps, but the daily actions are your priority," Olson says. "Consistency is your slight edge." Record your daily actions in a journal or spreadsheet to monitor your progress. Stick with the program and be patient. The small daily increase in effort isn't what trips people up, Olson says. "It is impatience and lack of immediate results that make otherwise smart, capable businesspeople give up on their goals." More: The Power of One Percent: How to Boost Business Three-Fold in a Year
To stay driven, fall in love with boredom.
The law of diminishing returns says that your early accomplishments will bring you more elation and satisfaction than later ones. Once you have landed a number of clients, for instance, you won't get the same high from signing yet another client that you did from signing the first few. Long after the euphoria of your initial achievements has faded, you stay driven "by loving the practice of what you do," says James Clear, an entrepreneur, weightlifter and photographer who writes about how to improve your work and health. "It's only the people who embrace their work as a craft and fall in love with the boredom of doing it day in and day out that stay driven over the long-term." More: Yes, You Can Be Happy While Pushing Yourself to Success
Don't look at finances emotionally.
It's probably human nature to feel thrilled when you're flush with cash and fearful when the money looks like it's running out. But it's a mistake to deal with your finances so emotionally, says Michelle Shemilt, the founder of Nudy Patooty, an eco-friendly undershirt line for women. You may miss important information about why things are or are not working, getting complacent in good times and paralyzed in bad times. "Instead, be open and curious with your finances," Shemilt says. "When you are constantly curious -- in both good times and bad -- you will always be learning and thinking constructively on how you can improve your business." More: Are You Really Seeing the Big Picture?
Don't waste your mentor's time by getting off-topic.
Regular meetings with a mentor can help you clarify your goals, move past obstacles and capitalize on positive feedback. But mentors tend to be busy people, and you should make the most of your time together, says Jason Womack, founder of The Womack Company, an Ojai, Calif.-based productivity-training firm. Instead of chatting about a little of everything, focus on a single goal you'd like to pursue and talk it through with your mentor. "Tell them what you'd like to discuss and get to a point of clarity with one of the goals you have for the rest of the year," Womack says. More: The 3 Things You Need to Consider Before Meeting a Mentor
Seek cross-promotion and real-world exposure for your brand.
Many forms of marketing are prohibitively expensive for a young company, but it's crucial to get the word out somehow about your product or service. One cost-effective solution is to figure out where your target users congregate and then get your startup in front of them at those locations, says Kirsten Green, founder of San Francisco-based venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures. For instance, if you're targeting parents, you could distribute literature through after-school programs and at pediatricians' offices, among other places. Also, if your service is valuable to those businesses' customers, find out whether the businesses would be willing to profile your site on their blogs or promote it on their social networks. "Most people and businesses are interested in continuing to engage their audiences via content, so give them something to talk about," Green says. More: 5 Ways to Market Your Startup on a Dime