The new year is almost upon us. Did you get everything done you hoped to in 2016? If you’re like most of us, probably not — but don’t beat yourself up. The secret to your success in 2017 lies in a few simple habits and, if you need the extra motivation, a few cool apps to help you stick to your resolutions.
Use a habit tracking app for adopting good habits and tackling bad ones.
As small business owners, we have the best of intentions, but seeing our business objectives through to completion is often harder than it seems. Using an app to track your habits has several advantages: It automates keeps you accountable, lets you monitor your progress in a very visual way, and makes achieving your goals a breeze (and fun, too!).
Most importantly, it automates the habit-setting (or breaking) process, freeing up valuable mental energy. When something becomes a habit, it becomes second nature. Tasks you used to avoid like the plague become much easier — even enjoyable.
There’s a wealth of free and affordable habit-tracking apps available for every type of OS and mobile device. Some apps, like Momentum, let you sync all your devices. The Habitica app gamifies the habit-tracking process by offering little rewards and even letting you play in multiplayer mode with your friends! There are many others available as well, so check out a few different ones and pick one that’s relevant to your objectives and learning style.
Remember, you don’t need to try to tackle everything all at once. In fact, it’s better to focus on only one or two habits at a time and introduce new ones gradually.
Get a CRM program to monitor contacts and business opportunities.
CRM (customer relationship management) software helps businesses keep a finger on the pulse of their industry and an eye on new opportunities by tracking key players, such as leads, clients, partners, suppliers, and social media influencers.
A good CRM tool allows you to integrate all your business apps, including Dropbox, Evernote, and even your email marketing and accounting software. In a time of information overload, CRM is a great way to keep your business organized and spot connections or opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.
CRM software isn’t just for large enterprises. There are many solutions for one man operation or companies with only a few employees.
Here are some other of our favorite CRMs:
- HubSpot CRM: Great tool for managing contacts and has a solid pipeline management tool. Best of all, it’s Free!
- PipeDrive – Excellent for nurturing leads ands sales. Starts at $10/mo
- Insightly, which doubles as a CRM and project management tool, has free and affordable plans for small businesses.
Take a social media hiatus.
Salary.com’s annual “Wasting Time at Work” survey sheds some light on how much productivity employers lose due to their employees’ social media habits at work.
Unfortunately, this bad habit applies to small business owners, as well – perhaps even more so, with no boss or set schedule to worry about. Every hour you spend on social media rather than working on your business is an hour in lost productivity. This 2017, why not schedule a few weeks off from your personal social media accounts? Facebook profiles can be temporarily deactivated, and Tweets can be scheduled in advance using HootSuite or Buffer.
You can free up even more time by streamlining your business correspondence. Hire a part-time customer service rep to manage your email, or use an autoresponder to free up a few hours of time to work on other tasks uninterrupted.
Finally, switch off any mobile notifications that aren’t absolutely necessary. For instance, do you really need to receive a notification every time someone follows you on Twitter? It might feel nice, but all these distractions add up.
Kick off your mornings with a strong start.
Don’t hit the snooze button! If you start your day off with an active rather than passive mindset, you’ll feel more energized and confident. On the other hand, if you fritter away the first hour or two of your workday watching prank videos on YouTube or scrolling through your Facebook timeline, you’ll quash your motivation for the rest of the day.
Eat a healthy breakfast (avoid sugar) and drink a glass of water, which has a strong link to brain performance including improved memory and ability to focus. If you’re the type who likes to linger over your morning dark roast, postpone your coffee break until you’ve been working for a solid hour or two.
Get your daily to-do list ready to go the night before so you can dive right in the next morning, and make a point of going to bed at the same time every evening – early enough to allow for eight hours of restful sleep. It might be difficult to fall asleep at first, but if you keep it up, your body will adjust to the new schedule.
Read less and do more.
One of the top pitfalls for entrepreneurs and business owners is the glut of marketing information available online — articles, podcasts, videos, and so on. It’s an easy trap to fall into; reading tips about how to improve your business gives you the impression you’re doing something productive, when you’re actually doing zilch. Knowledge is only power if you act on it.
Educating yourself on the latest marketing techniques is important, but get into the habit of only doing it when you need to learn a new strategy. For instance, maybe you want to run a Facebook like campaign for your fan page, but you’re not sure how to minimize your cost per like.
If you’re curious to see how much time you’re actually wasting on a daily basis, try an experiment: Using a time-tracking app like Hours or Jiffy, log your daily activities for a few days to find out what tasks are eating up the majority of your time. Once you’ve identified these time-suckers, they’ll be easier to eliminate.
If you really want to get some work done this 2017, resolve to stop spending so much time in Internet marketing forums. Unsubscribe from all those emails that are cluttering your inbox, and avoid ebooks that promise to turn you into a marketing superstar overnight. The best way to learn how to market your business is to jump in and get your hands dirty.