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Best Habits for Entrepreneurs

Best Habits for Entrepreneurs

With 2023 coming to a close, talk tends to turn to New Year resolutions. Personally, I see each day as the start of a new 365 day cycle. Essentially, every day is an opportunity to begin a transformation. However, I do appreciate how the crispness of a fresh year is motivating. To inspire your 2024 resolutions for your business, here is a list of the best habits for entrepreneurs.

What are habits?

First, let’s get clear on the definition of habits. Habits are behaviours and choices you make regularly. These are frequently automatic, unconscious actions, like scrolling through your phone while having that first cup of coffee.

According to James Clear, the author of the groundbreaking Atomic Habits book, research has shown that habits account for about 40% of our behaviours on any given day. And each individual small habit may seem insignificant on its own. However, as it is repeated again and again over time, the aggregate effect is enormous. Think of a leaky tap. It’s just one drop at a time, but after enough hours pass, the sink would overflow and flood the room.

This is what I find so inspiring about hagstones – they are proof that small actions over time have the power to create breakthroughs and significant change. Which is why these best habits for entrepreneurs are valuable for service business owners looking to level up in 2024.

Best Habits for Small Business Management

Keeping on top of business management functions is one of the best habits for entrepreneurs. When these tasks slide, it creates problems which can be costly and stressful to resolve. Therefore, it is important to maintain these regularly.

1.Bookkeeping

Ok, this is boring stuff, but it is important. When bookkeeping is updated monthly, financial reports can be reviewed to track budgets and monitor results. This includes monthly and annual tax filings for employee remittances, government tax submissions, and any required reporting.

2. Journaling

The habit of keeping a journal creates space to reflect and brainstorm. It’s useful for small business management as a safe place to record ideas and vent frustrations. 

For more, read How to start a journal to increase success as an entrepreneur

3. Taking a break from business

Certainly, it seems counterintuitive to say that taking time away is a good habit for small business management. However, burnout for entrepreneurs is real. So making a habit of time for fun, rest, and relaxation benefits the business. After all, when an owner is exhausted, it negatively impacts their ability to manage effectively.

Best Habits for Team Building

Even a small team benefits from team building. Doing these activities regularly will create stronger communication and cooperation, which improves productivity. 

1. Hold regular meetings

This could be a monthly review of KPIs, or weekly share of projects and priorities. Keep it short and meaningful to boost staff engagement. 

2. Build a feedback loop

To create a supportive environment, make sure there is a feedback loop to hear from your team. While a structured annual performance management review is valuable, also make regular check-ins a habit. Monitor mood and performance for changes. Give them an opportunity to share concerns and ask questions. 

3. Reward and recognition

Does your team know when they are doing well? Make reward and recognition a habit. This can be as simple as sharing when someone has gone above and beyond. Also, you could build a structured system of earning points to be redeemed for paid time off, a cash bonus, or a gift card. 

Best Habits for Strategic Planning

It is not unusual for business owners to be so involved in daily operations that no time is spent on review and analysis. The best habits for entrepreneurs in 2024 include these strategic planning activities.

Best Habits for Entrepreneurs

1. Monitor KPIs

Not sure what this is? Read What are KPIs.

How do you know how your business is doing if you don’t monitor metrics? Numbers don’t lie. Make it a habit to regularly review performance, output, quality, and financials. Compare current results with last month or last quarter, and also look at the difference year over year. This is a valuable habit of small business management which drives decision making. 

2. Competitor analysis

Make it a habit to keep track of what competitors are doing. For example, if part of your growth strategy relies on a specific competitive advantage, that may shift depending on what your competitors are doing. Smart strategic planning requires understanding what similar businesses are doing. Otherwise, how will you know how to stay competitive, and spot opportunities to grow?

3. Review market and sector

Also, regularly check in with trends and changes in your sector. Consumer expectations shift over time. And changes in technology impacts productivity and profit margins. Therefore, make it a habit to stay informed and up to date with political, technological, and societal changes that impact your strategic plans.

Overall Best Habits for Entrepreneurs

As shown above, actions repeated regularly over time creates meaningful results. By making these activities a habit, entrepreneurs develop strong business management skills. Remember that where your business is now is a direct result of habit and behaviours of the past. Finally, embrace these habits in 2024 to level up and grow your business.

Best Habits for Entrepreneurs Read More »

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking. Although we increasingly live, work, and interact online, in-person networking is still a thing. And for service business owners looking to land more customers in their community, networking is powerful. Old school face time makes connections which opens up opportunities for business growth.

However, this takes more than a fresh order of business cards. Prepare for success with these networking tips for entrepreneurs that work for both virtual and in real life situations.

First, Set Goals

Before registering for an event or joining an entrepreneurship organization, be clear about your networking goals. What outcomes do you want?

Specifically, what outcomes meet the needs of your business? For example, are you looking for an investor, a mentor, a new graphic designer, or to connect with the decision maker of a certain company? In all cases, check that networking goals align your business strategy. After all, networking takes up precious time and energy. So that investment should lead to measurable results. 

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

For business owners, networking is different than for people who have jobs. It just is. Because entrepreneurship is a totally different journey than progressing along a career path. As a result, expectations are different. Therefore, these are specific networking tips for entrepreneurs to gain the most benefit for your business.

Be strategic

Be strategic about what events to attend, and which networking group you join. Though it may seem that more results will come from more exposure, this isn’t always the case. First of all, burnout is real for entrepreneurs, with rates as high as 42%. Additionally, networking is a long game of making meaningful connections. Showing up to all the things for 4 months and then disappearing off the scene is not as effective as consistent attendance to a small selection of events all year.

Basically, it’s quality over quantity. So consider the audience and the timing to select events that line up with your goals and schedule.

Be selective

Don’t expect to meet all the people at an event. Racing around to shake hands with everyone in the room is not productive. Be selective, and connect with people in a natural way.

For example, you spot someone you know chatting in a circle, and approach them to say hello. This will lead to introductions to the others in the circle. Let those conversations flow naturally. Others may join the group, resulting in new connections. By the end of the event, you may have met only 10% of the people in the room. However, meeting a few in a meaningful way is more beneficial than a passing introduction with many.

Be human

It’s recommended to have an engaging and effective elevator pitch ready to go. However, don’t over prepare and have an entire script memorized. Be human. Meaning, let each conversation and interaction unfold naturally. Engage with each individual as a person and not according to a sales agenda. Being tied to a structured series of blurbs comes off as robotic, and not authentic.

Be curious

Ask about family, recent vacations, and hobbies. Although the ultimate goal may be to land a pitch, an introduction, or a customer, this all starts with making a connection on a human level. Finding common ground with someone builds a foundation for trust and communication. Furthermore, it may open up an opportunity to be of service. And giving a referral, suggesting an article, or recommending a podcast really establishes a bond and makes meeting you memorable.

Be of service

As explained above, being of service is an excellent networking tip for entrepreneurs. So keep your ears open for opportunities to provide value. This can be offering to make an introduction, or giving a recommendation. Also, it can be personal, like suggesting a gluten-free recipe for a school function or a great new novel to read. First of all, it is very satisfying and rewarding to be helpful. And of course, it’s an excellent way to start off a friendship, collaboration, or business relationship.

Be balanced

When a skilled networker approaches you with questions about your business and recent holiday experience, it’s easy to just keep on talking. After all, research shows that 40% of our speech is about ourselves. Furthermore, many people feel anxious when meeting new people, and being nervous also causes excessive talking. Therefore, make an effort to be aware of this, and be balanced. Be sure to stop answering questions, and start asking them. 

Final advice

Though what happens at a networking event is important, the real results come from what happens afterwards. Essentially, remember them and look for opportunities to be of service, provide support, and give value. Use a CRM to keep track of who you met and highlights of the conversation. Also follow on social media channels. Then followup and engage in a meaningful way.

For example, liking and commenting on their content. Or sending them a link about a topic that relates to their business or something you chatted about.

With these networking tips for entrepreneurs, meaningful connections can be made which will support business growth and success.

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs Read More »

Community Involvement for Entrepreneurs

Community Involvement for Entrepreneurs

Corporate philanthropy isn’t just for the big brands. Clearly, a small business can’t manage global projects in the billions of dollars like The Coca Cola Foundation or the  Nike Community Impact Fund. However, it is still possible for a small business to make a positive impact on the world. Community involvement for entrepreneurs can take on many forms so both the community and the business benefits.

Benefits of community involvement for entrepreneurs

Obviously, contributing to charities and participating in social causes benefits the community. Additionally, there are many benefits for entrepreneurs. For any business owner considering becoming involved in their community, read on to learn reasons why it’s worthwhile.

Friendship

After all, when spending time with like minded people, friendships will form. Community involvement for entrepreneurs opens up a whole new social circle outside their usual networking crowd.

Personal Development

Giving to others is an opportunity for personal development. Learning about a cause or an issue broadens the mind and provides more perspective on your own life and business.

Leadership Skills

It’s also possible to develop leadership and management skills. For example, when I was President of the Board of a women’s shelter, I dealt with issues like governance and staff performance, which built my communication and mediation skills.

Good Karma

Sure, it may be a little cheesy. But doing good things for others is simply a good thing to do. It feels great to be of value, contribute, and help others. This creates a positive feeling which can flow over into all areas of life and business, and attract more positive things.

Networking

In addition to making friends, community involvement for entrepreneurs is also valuable for networking. After all, there will be other business owners out there with the same goals, and people doing corporate volunteer programs. So it’s a chance to make new connections and expand your network.

Brand Visibility

Sometimes, community involvement allows for more brand visibility. For example, sponsoring a fundraising event in exchange for displaying the company name and logo.

More ideas are in the next section below, Ideas for Small Businesses.

Tax Writeoff

Donations in cash and in kind may create tax savings for your business. Check with an advisor to see what is available in your area.

Business Awards Nomination

This should never be the only reason for contributing and volunteering. However, it’s a fact that these activities may help a nomination package for a business award. After all, social responsibility is valued, so award panels prefer to recognize entrepreneurs and businesses who make the effort and investment to help others. For more on this, read “Are Business Awards Worth it?

Team Building

The opportunities for team building is another benefit for a small business. For example, signing up for a charity fun run as a team. Or teaming up in pairs to work a shift serving food at a shelter. Also, involve staff in the decision making and planning of the company’s community involvement. This lets them share the positive experience and benefits of contributing. Working on this project develops teamwork and bonding which will benefit their on the job communication.

Be strategic

As shown above, there are many benefits from community involvement for entrepreneurs. It’s best to be strategic about selecting the what and how.

Naturally, it’s important to pick something that is meaningful for you. It just doesn’t make sense to devote time and energy to a cause you don’t deeply care about.

However, it is recommended to align with your brand and customer avatar. Consider what your clients would feel good about supporting. For example, if your company provides products or services for pets, then a Humane Society or animal welfare organization is a good fit. Or for a business related to home decor, repair, or maintenance, then a homeless shelter or Habitat for Humanity is a good choice.

In Canada, it’s part of the culture for families to stop at Tim Hortons before or after (sometimes, before AND after) doing activities together. Which is why their Timbits sports program is such a brilliant example of strategic corporate philanthropy. They help children participate in sports, which benefits their physical and mental health. And the Timmies logo is on every kid on the field.

Be open to ideas

Community involvement doesn’t have to be donations or sponsorship. My last company participated in Cleaning up the Capital, which improved the appearance and safety of neighbourhood parks and playgrounds.

Overall, consider your business as a way to help people. Perhaps there is an opportunity to provide training or employment for people with disabilities, like through EasterSeals.

Strategic Community Involvement for Entrepreneurs

Ideas for small businesses

First of all, it doesn’t have to be a charity, like a foundation searching for a cure. Consider all the needs of the community where your business operates. For example, senior homes, schools, homeless shelters, food banks, halfway houses, animal welfare, accessibility, and environmental causes. Here are some ideas to help find the right fit for your business.

Board of Directors

Non profit boards are unpaid, and they always need committed people to keep the organization going. Joining a Board is a meaningful way to contribute time and skills.

Volunteering

There are many ways to be hands-on for a cause. Include employees to make it a team building exercise. Or, reward staff with perks earned by volunteering to a cause they care about.

Sponsorship

Many events have a range of business sponsorship opportunities that will get the company name and logo different levels of exposure. For example, website listing and link, banners at the event, menu sponsor, and table sponsor. Also consider golf clubs, since they often organize fundraising events and rely on business sponsorships to boost the donation.

Matching Donation

Run a campaign to raise funds for a specific cause and pledge to match donations from customers.  

Customer Selected Donation

This is another way to make a donation and engage new customers at the same time. At the point of sale or contract signing, give the new customer a choice of donation. For example, I knew a plumbing company who allowed customers to choose where a $5 donation would go, giving 3 different local charities as options. Pausing to make that decision really connects the customer with the donation process, and it’s a positive experience knowing that in hiring that company, they are also helping a cause they care about.

Silent Auction

Help raise funds by donating products or services to a silent auction. Attend the event if possible, as a way to learn more about the cause and meet new people.

Conclusion

Overall, there are many benefits from community involvement for entrepreneurs. It can raise brand visibility and awareness. There are many opportunities to network, make connections, and build friendships. In fact, it’s a learning experience which can grow leadership and management skills. Also, it’s a chance to develop closer bonds among employees. But most importantly, it’s just good karma to help others. All business owners should consider how to contribute to the needs of their community.

Community Involvement for Entrepreneurs Read More »

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Rebecca Page-Chapman