To survive in an unstable and competitive market, entrepreneurs have to be on top of everything — including their daily habits. While an occasional mistake or bad choice might not make or break you, when it becomes a common occurrence, it can wreak havoc on your business.
Below, members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share some unconstructive practices every entrepreneur should eliminate from their daily routine. If any of these habits look familiar, it’s time to start breaking them.
1. Checking email first thing in the morning
One bad habit is checking email first thing in the morning. How you start your morning is the most influential way to set your day up well, and you risk derailing your priorities and plans with other people’s fires and agendas. Email is a holding place for the stuff everyone else needs from you. Your time as an owner is your most valuable asset — no amount of money in the world will buy you more. – Jay Feitlinger, StringCan Interactive
2. Constantly checking your email throughout the day
Being a slave to your email and checking it every 30 minutes or every hour can slow anyone’s productivity. Try to limit your consumption of emails to set times during the day. If you can get away with it in your business, setting a window at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day to check and respond to emails is quite productive. – Theodore A. Spaulding, Spaulding Injury Law
3. Trying to be all things to all people
Stop trying to be all things to all people — including within your own business. Identify your niche and work on messaging and branding that’s focused on that select group. Also, avoid running every part of every aspect of your business. Among the smartest business decisions I’ve ever made has been bringing in additional help to do the things I hate to do, don’t need to do or that are outside of my expertise. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More
4. Directing from afar
Get your hands dirty with the team. We often forget how we got where we are, and the skillset across the team varies significantly each day. Learn; don’t direct. Watch and listen for once and see what the team has to say. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.
Procrastination: We all do it. However, if you step back, assess your team and delegate daily, you will see immediate progress as well as increased inclusion of the team. To break the bad habit of procrastination, take the last 30 minutes of your day to write out your “Hot List.” Where possible, assign a name to each item, then send out an update. The items left are your focus. It gives the team direction and a sense of inclusion. – Rob Ihrig, Endicott Coffee
6. Devoting time to things that don’t yield results
Learn and put into practice the law of the “vital few.” As stated in the Pareto principle, you will find that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Identify the few things you do that return the best results. Likewise, eliminate the habits and activities that rarely return results. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
7. Prioritizing urgent but unimportant tasks over non-urgent but important tasks
Some entrepreneurs prioritize urgent but unimportant tasks over non-urgent but important tasks. If you take a step back, those “urgent” tasks can often wait or be delegated. As humans, we sometimes gravitate toward such work as a way of procrastinating yet still feeling like we accomplished something. I’m guilty of it all the time. – Nathan Scherper, Sherper’s
8. Not finishing one project before starting another
The law of inertia states if a body is moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will keep moving in a straight line at that constant speed. The same goes for entrepreneurs and their daily routine. Doing 10% of 10 things will never lead you to 100% finished projects or company goals. – Justin Mihalcin, Discount Dumpster Rental
9. Letting your inbox dictate your daily priorities
It is tempting to dive right into your email inbox, which sucks us all into tactical, reactive mode — and the topics are dictated by the sender of the email. Instead, review the big picture so you are starting with a broader perspective. Understand your short, mid-term and long-term priorities as well as what it’s critical to accomplish that day. You now have a framework to start your day. – Scott Lingren, Schunk Xycarb Technology Inc.
10. Doing everything yourself
Shifting tasks will save your company time and money. Assign jobs that aren’t in your wheelhouse. From accounting and HR to event planning and marketing, there are tasks that others can do better than you and that is OK. You hired some of the brightest in the industry, so recognize their strengths and the value they bring to your business. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
11. Focusing on your mistakes
Focusing intensely on our mistakes is a bad habit we all need to stop. True, we need to learn from our mistakes, but learning what works well is sometimes a faster and cheaper way to succeed. – Joy Frestedt, Frestedt Incorporated
12. Never taking a break
Stop working without a break. As a business owner, it’s easy to work all the time without pause, but that is often counterproductive. It’s amazing how much clearer your head is after you take a break; the idea or solution you’ve been searching for often comes through. – Matt Haiker, Q Consulting
13. Not getting enough sleep
Going to bed late and waking up early is a common bad habit. A lack of sleep can contribute to increased stress, poor decision-making and a cloudy mind. Maintaining proper rest at night is paramount to achieving high performance during the day. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management