People who step foot in the world of business usually possess ‘that something,’ a quality that makes them daring, fierce, and prone to taking intelligent risks.
Having a great product, idea, and a supportive team to carry out our vision––and mission––is part of the equation, but personal habits play an essential role in mitigating stress and persevering in challenging times. The combination of the two will ultimately lead you, your team, and the whole business to success.
Our habits shape the way we behave and manage our emotional and social lives. They are one of the most important secondary factors of our success, and they have a significant impact on our ability to cope with stress and adversity.
One of the most challenging tasks for building habits is making them stick. Once you build your ideal set of habits, it will be easier to strive for your professional goals and your sense of inner peace and satisfaction.
In this article, we share 25 best habits to have in business that will lead you to ultimate success.
What Are the Best Habits to Have in Business?
When it comes to the success of our business, while there are many factors that we can’t control, such as market trends, current demand, how fierce our competition is, etc., there are also many things we can take control of. Our personal habits are one of them.
Building positive, life-changing habits that will help you stand out in what you do is completely up to you, and those habits range from completely personal ones such as your wake-up time and the way you spend your leisure time, to habits that are directly connected to your productivity at work.
However, keep in mind that building habits that stick may take time. It requires patience, tolerance to failure, and persistence, as financial and business success doesn’t happen overnight.
Before we dive into the topic, take a moment to think about how many of these habits are you already practicing. If there are at least two, use them as the groundwork for building your other life-changing habits, as it’s much easier to make good habits stick when you incorporate them into an existing system.
1. Go to Bed Early, so You Wake up Early
To excel in business, you need proper focus. The days can get quite chaotic with the phone ringing all the time, people coming in and out of your office, meetings, meetings, meetings, and the Herculean effort it takes to reach inbox zero.
If you want to make it easier for yourself to focus on the activities that await you on a particular day, waking up early is essential. Unless this is a habit that you’re already exercising, we recommend that you make an effort to wake up at least two hours earlier than you are waking up right now.
What do we mean by early? We find that the sweet spot is somewhere between 4 am and 6 or 7 am. For those of you who are not early birds by nature, this may be a habit that is challenging to instill, but we would argue that the more challenging you find it, the more critical it is for you.
Want to hear our pro tip for waking up early? There’s no rule that says you need to adopt this habit overnight, as that can shock your system and have the opposite effect. You can start gradually, by simply moving your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day, until you reach your goal.
Sometimes you’ll be stuck at the same wake-up time for a couple of days, and that’s okay. The body and the mind need time to adjust to a new sleeping regimen, and you will notice that you’re getting sleepier earlier and earlier each evening.
2. Always Be Inspired
If you remember the exact moment when your initial business idea crossed your mind, and then the exact moment you decided to make a go for it, well, that’s what it means to be inspired. When all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fit together, you feel this rush and eagerness to just do something.
Although the feeling of inspiration is transitory, it’s good for your creativity levels to keep an open mind and a proactive attitude so that you are always as accepting of it as you can be.
You can, for example, find something that inspires you to watch, read, or listen to and consume at least a bit of it every day. Whether “it” for you is a scientific channel with the latest trends in tech development, a TED talk, an inspirational blog, or your favorite podcast - it’s important that you do it each day.
3. Powerful Morning
Many successful people in business claim that the first part of the day is the most important for them, as that’s when they feel the strongest and most energized. That’s likely because it’s much easier to remain focused and concentrated in the morning when you’re not yet overwhelmed by the challenges of the day.
But if you find that you are not as productive in the mornings as you want to be, there are several things you can do.
You can start by implementing a powerful and engaging morning routine designed around activities that fill you with positivity. For example, you can start the day by filling out your Five Minute Journal, expressing your gratitude alone, with your partner, or your whole family. There’s always a way to add to this routine gradually and take it further one step at a time, by adding a short exercise routine, preparing a healthy breakfast, reading a chapter from a book, or anything else that you find inspiring to do in the morning.
Take your time building your morning habits, as forming a new habit doesn’t happen overnight — it can take between three weeks and a few months.
4. Zero Inbox
Like clutter in our physical space, digital clutter can distract us and decrease our capacity for concentration. To save yourself this added stress, we recommend that you make it a habit to read, sort, and discard unwanted emails the moment they arrive.
If your email service provider allows, you can also set up specific filters and automation, but if it’s not possible, you can still try to keep your inbox clean manually, so it’s easy for you to reach inbox zero each day.
5. Eat the Frog
In one of our previous articles, we spoke at length about how you can use The Productivity Planner to prioritize, and we recommended that you always ‘eat the frog’ or choose your most important tasks for the day first.
Waking up early and completing an inspiring and empowering morning routine will make it even easier for you to get into your MITs.
The challenging thing about MITs is choosing them. For people running their businesses, everything seems equally important. But this way of thinking can lead to burnout pretty quickly. We advise you to just get it over with, choose two or three things that are the most important for the goals you’re committed to, and make them the first thing you focus on in the morning.
6. Use the Pareto Principle
This principle can be pretty helpful in business and for goal achievement in general because it helps you focus your efforts on the most meaningful activities.
According to this principle, 80% of the results that you achieve come from 20% of the effort you have invested.
To illustrate, for a sales business, this means that 80% of the sales are coming from 20% of the customers.
You can find out how the 80/20 rule applies directly to your business and try to use that information to rescale your efforts and focus on those activities, clients, or customers that bring you the most significant value.
7. Master Time Management
Even though the internet, TV, and movie industry are churning out an abundance of content that is often challenging to ignore, being successful means restraining yourself from activities that don’t enrich your life in a meaningful way.
Our time on Earth is limited, which is both intimidating and beautiful at the same time. To make sure we make the most of it, we can try to save time, just like we try to save money before it’s gone forever.
Use all the tools at your disposal to create an excellent time-management system and stick to it to avoid distraction and achieve your goals.
The Productivity Planner and The Mindful Focus Hourglass are two excellent tools to help you with that. If you use them together, you’ll soon find that your daily and weekly planning have never been more straightforward. The Productivity Planner is designed to help you put together the perfect time management plan, while the Mindful Focus Hourglass that lasts 30 minutes will help you execute your plan.
8. Daily Goals
There is no business without a business plan with clearly outlined long-term goals. That’s something you probably know already. However, every big goal composes of many smaller subgoals. The goal-units should get as small as daily goals. Some of the most successful business people set goals for each day. A daily goal can be something like ‘reply to all of my emails’ or ‘make at least two sales’.
It’s good to set your daily goals early in the morning when you feel fresh and energetic.
If you’re not sure how to set, manage, and measure achievable goals, perhaps check out one of our previous articles on How to set achievable goals, where we explain how to formulate your goals, what principles to use, how to pick your metrics for progress and measure your success, and so much more.
9. Tracking and Analyzing
How do you know that you’ve made progress?
Tracking your activities and measuring your progress using simple analytical methods is the only way to be sure that you are moving forward.
This is especially important for long-term goals, where we can get lost in the sea of smaller steps and can no longer tell whether we are moving forward or staying in place.
Knowing how far you’ve come from when you first started out and how much is left before the end can help you make necessary adjustments in your strategy and estimate the time needed to pass certain milestones.
This is why it’s good to have progress metrics in place. Achieving daily goals can be one of them. You can also track your progress hourly by setting a reminder for yourself to write down what you are doing and what you have done so far. This may create a bit of pressure, so we don’t recommend it for everyone. However, for certain people, the awareness that time until the next alarm beep sounds is running out can help them get things done when they’re on a tight schedule.
Since hourly reminders can be somewhat overwhelming, it’s enough to do this exercise only for a couple of days. The goal is to get a grasp of how you spend your time in order to reorganize your daily activities.
If you have a great plan, a good business strategy, and lots of knowledge but have no connections, that factor alone can hinder your business success.
While most people understand that this is one of the basic principles of doing business, not many people list networking as an activity they need to do every day.
Helping others, visiting social events that people from your or similar branches of business often attend, reaching out for collaboration, making a page on social media, and interacting with people are all ways of networking that may be beneficial for your business.
Networking rarely pays off immediately. It takes time and repeated interactions before things start to ‘click’.
11. Connecting to People
How is connecting to people different from networking? We separated these two activities on purpose, as networking means making connections relevant for doing business, while connecting with people has a more personal component, although it can be motivated by your business goals.
Hearing out people’s personal stories and learning about their lives and issues allows you to create a deeper connection with your community and perhaps give back by doing what’s in your power.
Make sure to regularly connect with people who are close and dear to you, but also remain open to new friends and acquaintances. Curiosity is a trait that can take you far in life and can be the driving force behind your success.
12. Ask Questions, Show Interest
As soon as we grow up, we seek ways to close down in a bubble where we feel safe and where the world seems predictable. We tend to work hard to preserve this equilibrium.
Despite our efforts to maintain this type of stability, the reality is that the world is constantly changing, and if we don’t make an active effort to keep pace with it, it’s likely that we’ll lag behind.
If you look at it from this perspective, you’ll realize that being a grown-up who has retained that childlike sense of wonder at the world and the ability to ask questions to make sense of it in earnest, with no assumptions or prejudice, is an amazing personal quality.
Novelty can be intimidating, so we often label it as negative. But every story has two sides, and if you keep asking questions, you will find out that the reality is often much more complicated than it seems, and it is that very complexity that makes it stunning.
13. Add Value to Everything You Do
While earning money is important, focusing solely on that makes the whole journey to success kind of empty. Profit-oriented focus in business can often do more harm than good in the end.
The most successful businesses globally constantly strive to add value and give back to the communities supporting them.
It may seem counterproductive to give a stronger focus to giving than to earning, but you will be surprised by how much it pays off in the long run.
14. Keep a Journal and Reflect
One of the best habits that keeps you in the loop is journaling. It helps you vent negative thoughts, gain more insight into the important situations in your life, and preserve important memories.
When it comes to your business, it can help you express and then analyze your thoughts about it. It can make it easier for you to synthesize your intentions and future plans and identify your biggest obstacles.
And it can do all that with minimal effort on your part — if you dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to it each day.
You can also use your journal to reflect on your achievements, which is especially important in periods when you feel like you haven’t done much. No matter how little the progress you’ve made is, it’s still progress, and acknowledging it can help you keep your eyes on the ball.
15. Focus on the Positive
We progress forward, excel in business, and achieve our dreams primarily by following detailed step-by-step plans that we organize into achievable sub-goals, but also thanks to proper time management and timely action. Yet, whether twe are able to execute our plans depends on many other secondary factors, too, like our mindset.
Due to the nature of entrepreneurship and business and the stresses it entails, it’s sometimes easy to fall into negative thinking. But also, what we focus on, expands. A negative mindset makes us expect negative outcomes, and we then ultimately also attract them.
That’s why finding the silver lining is necessary even in the most challenging situations.
Being aware that something’s not right is helpful, but spending all your energy worrying about it won’t make it disappear. What might help you combat it is focusing on what’s good so that it takes over the negative.
What will help you achieve that is nurturing a positive mindset. Furthermore, framing the obstacles you’re facing as challenges you need to overcome enables you to build a growth mindset and learn from all these experiences.
16. Have Someone Mentor You
Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s very likely that there’s someone who has excelled in it before you. Finding this person that you can learn from and getting them to be your mentor can make a massive difference in how you think about your business.
This person should be someone who can provide you with guidance, knowledge, and experience. But a mentor can be even more than that — they’re not only the person you can turn to for business-related knowledge and advice, but they can also be the person that helps you navigate the stresses of having a business and resolve emotional challenges and personal dilemmas.
If you find them, we recommend that you consult them daily at first.
17. Commit Your Time to Those in Need
Becoming successful in business also means being aware of how lucky we are to have that opportunity, and we should never lose sight of the fact that not everyone gets that chance. But, we can constantly challenge ourselves to help less fortunate people.
Although giving some of your free time to those in need isn’t directly connected to achieving business success, contributing to an important cause is much larger than that.
What you are doing by giving back and making those who are almost invisible in our society feel noticed and acknowledged is contributing to your community and growing as a person. This, in turn, makes you more focused on your goals and on what’s most important to you.
Not every activity important for your business is directly geared towards profit, earnings, or business growth.
Simply put, there are certain things that are larger than business, and that’s life.
18. Stay on Budget
Always follow your budget plan. Managing personal finance is just as important as managing business finance. Even if you are financially well off, exercising impulse control when it comes to expenditures, making intelligent investments, and actively rethinking your relationship to money is vital when you are in business.
If your business is flourishing, it’s easy to get drunk on financial prosperity and start spending irrationally. Sticking strictly to a planned budget plan is a critical habit of successful business people. Our relationship with money tells a lot about our personality and teaches us valuable lessons about prioritization, decision-making, frustration tolerance, and impulse control.
19. Match the Success of Others
Finding a mentor is one thing, but finding an ‘idol’ is another, and it’s equally important. This is someone already successful in the niche you’re trying to succeed in and someone you can aspire to become by matching their success.
Of course, this doesn’t mean copying someone’s actions and business model. It means looking into what others have done and taking valuable lessons from there.
How do they market their products? What is their unique value proposition, what are their biggest selling points? What hole in the market are they trying to fill? How did they build up their community? Getting answers to these and many other questions can help you learn valuable lessons for yourself and your business.
20. Take Action
Success can’t occur in a vacuum. It takes a lot to reach your goals. This is why making plans and setting up achievable goals that involve measurable, actionable steps is extremely important. They provide you with visualization and guidance on what to do to move forward.
One of the biggest concrete-action diffusers is procrastination. Learning how to eliminate procrastination from your life and progress forward instead of retreating into your comfort zone can unlock a lot of growth for you, both personal and professional.
There are many things you can do to put an end to procrastination. One of them is to use a Productivity Planner and list all of your daily and weekly tasks to the letter, perhaps according to the Focus Time Technique that relies on the method of time blocking. This means splitting your tasks into smaller blocks of 15-60 minutes of work, interrupted by 5-15 minute breaks.
It’s always easier to excel if you take smaller, continuous steps, as you experience bits of achievement in short time intervals, which feels rewarding. Soon, you might become more tolerant to the uncertainty of working in longer time intervals, or you may decide to stick to the short time intervals strategy. It’s up to you. What matters is to gradually eliminate inactivity from your behavioral repertoire.
21. Develop New Skills
Running a business means learning new things constantly. Most industries are changing rapidly, especially with the development of technology that has penetrated every sphere of our lives and jobs.
For this reason, it’s vital for business owners never to stop improving their skills. With a little bit of research, you can find out more about some of the most desirable skills to have in your business niche. Be it basic programming skills in a particular programming language, web development, usage of specific software, learning a new language, or something completely different; you can immensely benefit from this knowledge.
While learning a new skill may seem complex and time-consuming, you should keep in mind that you can expect to see some encouraging results by committing as little as 20 minutes per day to studying or exercising something new. As with everything else, it won’t happen overnight, but if you’re persistent, your efforts are bound to pay off.
22. Do More of What Your Love
While most people running a business love their jobs and find them rewarding, we can’t always look at work as a pleasurable daily activity. Even if you enjoy your work, doing something unrelated to it, just for the pleasure of it, is essential for improving your quality of life.
Focusing on your goals is extremely important, but try not to forget your own needs for fun and relaxation.
These needs can be different for different people. For you, it can be painting, yoga, running, reading books, playing board games with friends, bike riding, ice skating, anything that “sparks joy” for you. Think about the things you used to love doing for fun and that you haven’t indulged in forever, and make time for them. The joy they spark will give you newfound enthusiasm for growth that you can invest back in your business.
23. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness in every sphere of your life and work can profoundly impact your happiness and personal growth. The practice of mindfulness helps us stay present in the moment. It applies to any kind of activity we may be engaged in, from social situations to creative tasks at work, but also plain, menial tasks.
The primary benefits of exercising mindfulness are related to our overall wellbeing, health, and mental stability. However, practicing mindfulness also gives us the focus and sharpness that are more than necessary for doing business.
24. Act Respectfully Towards Others
The business world can become a very toxic place if we don’t treat each other with respect. The fundamental pillar of mutual respect is to treat people the same way you want them to treat you. This means to refrain from talking behind their backs, gossiping, or humiliating others. The goal is for everyone to feel good and play fair, as we want to live and work in a world where we collaborate and compete in a healthy way, rather than be spiteful to each other.
Being mean, angry, or vindictive takes much more of our energy than nurturing a positive mindset, and it can destroy our sense of optimism. We believe you know this, and you exercise it yourself, but it’s important to be analytical and understanding when you notice it in other people to avoid engaging in toxic interactions impulsively.
25. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
It can sometimes be challenging to pick the best possible action for a particular situation and to simply know what to do. After all, nobody has all the answers. Thanks to our limited cognitive abilities, we can only specialize in a finite number of things. However, instead of perceiving this as a weakness, we can perceive it as an opportunity for collaboration with other people to overcome the potential gaps in our knowledge.
A lot of people tend to feel shame when it comes to asking others for help. But that’s just ego playing mind games with us.
Our view is that asking questions, consulting with other people, and taking advice from people who have more experience in a specific field should be normalized, rather than ostracized. One day, you may become a person that others turn to for assistance. This kind of collaborative chain is what we need to nurture in business.
We hope this article has inspired you to focus on nurturing positive habits, both personally and professionally. And, to wrap things up, we’ll leave you with one final thought: although these two things are very often intertwined for business people, it’s essential to learn how to draw the line between what you do and who you are.