Ever wondered why some people are more successful than others, in spite of having similar background, education, and industry?
Successful Online Entrepreneurs simply have developed the right, successful habits.
One person who has come up on his own due to his own beliefs and habits, and I highly admire, is Richard Branson. His Virgin blog has been fantastic resource for every entrepreneur, and he has a gem or two in every post of his. Richard is the no-non-sense, I-do-things-from-the-heart, always-help-others, provide-extreme-value-to-customers kind of person that I have come to know him to be through his articles, speeches, blog posts and my other internet stumblings.
Alissa Finerman recently wrote a guest blog post on Richard’s blog. Here she recounted Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. You can read the blog post here. As I was reading through them I recalled my first time study of Dr. Covey’s principles way back. Another thing I started to recall is my own revelations I have been discovering or emulating from successful entrepreneurs and implementing on my own entrepreneurial journey.
Here are 7 lessons or habits, if you will, that have helped me get better results in my online business.
1. Get Your Priorities Straight
We tend to feel good about working hard on our business if we worked for like 12-14hrs a day. While hard work is necessary, it is smart work that gets you results. While working smart is important (find an online tool to quickly search through zillion creative commons images for your blog post, rather than manually searching), being smart about what to work on is very crucial.
That is why you need a list of prioritized items always. At least once or twice a day, refine this list. Move up high priority items, move down items that are no longer important, add new items that have come to your attention.
Prioritizing your tasks help you make sure you don’t miss something important for the business (‘high value’ tasks)and you don’t waste time doing tasks that don’t matter to your business (‘low value’ tasks).
While MS Excel is a great tool for this, if you have a team to work with (even otherwise) you might find this tool I use to be helpful. It’s called Asana (www.asana.com). This is free, simple, elegant, quick to work with. You can create a project – which basically is just a space to put together related tasks – assign them to people if you have a team and get things done.
2. Get Disciplined
This is closely related to the first one, but distinct enough to be listed as an item of focus here.
As an online entrepreneur, you are your own boss. This is largely a good thing, but the bad part is that usually there is no one to tell you if you are not doing something right. Or if you are wasting time on unimportant tasks which seem worth working on because you like them. May be downloading a design software and spending a week creating a logo because you are a creative person (which you are) may not be best use of your one whole week. You could get it done at fivrr.com for cheaper (on both cost and your time). You would rather use your creativity to implement a new traffic strategy to generate prospective customers.
When you sit in front of your computer and hooked on to the internet, you’ll come across a zillion things that you find ‘interesting’. Before you know you have spent two hours gathering ‘knowledge’ that may not be relevant to your business.
If you are wasting your resources, time and energy on tasks that are unimportant – email for instance (not more than 5mins, unless you are writing to your prospective or current customer), or just surfing social networks, your time is gone, never to come back. If you find yourself doing it, the trick is to stop brooding over lost time, get back to work, and continue on it. This is the best way to train your mind to identify what is unnecessary and what is important.
Successful online entrepreneurs are highly disciplined in their way of thinking as well as living.
A good thing to ask yourself every time you take a break from work is ‘what did I do that contributes directly to bring revenue to my business?’. This question if you try to answer honestly, will help a lot to get disciplined.
3. Work On Your Business Every Day
Momentum is everything in business. Whether you are working full-time or part-time on your business, it is important to make sure that you spend quality time at your business every day.
Even on Sundays. Some people keep Sunday as completely family day, or social-day. I understand that. I do keep majority of my Sunday for the same purpose. However, I have found that at least an hour doing important mail replies, connecting to new prospective customers or just learning something new, helps me have the continuity on Monday.
Investing time daily on your business is as important as some of our daily routine (such as sleeping!), this helps maintain the momentum and focus.
4. Leave One Thing Undone At The End Of The Day
This I started doing after I discovered that I have been losing time (sometime entire morning session) without knowing what exactly to do. I do not remember whom I picked up this idea but it’s been working for me! This seems funny thought, but I realized the damage after I observed myself over few weeks and understood how much of productive time I’d lost.
I started to leave at least one, simple task undone at the end of my day. So that next morning I do this 1-2 tasks quickly, thus get a good start and then move on to other tasks.
This habit helps with continuity of your work – especially if you are working on multiple projects.
5. Stop Distractions, At Any Cost
Many people work from home-office/bedroom/guest room on their business. While there are advantages to this practice (saves on costs, commute, and lunch/coffee breaks), it is easy to be led away from your work. Phone ringing, TV volume, kids running around, unexpected guests arriving – lot of things may happen.
I tell my family not to disturb while I am at work and that I’ll come out and spend time with them. I ask my spouse to deal with unexpected guests and door knocks unless I am really required to attend to the matter. At times, I find it necessary to keep the phone off the hook and close Skype and other chat programs when I really need to focus on work.
Cut your distractions ruthlessly. You got to find a way to cut yourself from rest of the house if you are working from home. My mentor advises renting a small office close to home. If it is affordable, it’s worth the cost.
6. Treat People With Respect
When I was a kid I was at the office of my successful uncle. He had a saying at his desk that read “be nice to people on your way up, you will need them when you come down”. Along the years I’ve found that it is important to be nice to people, genuinely respect them. ‘People’ include our own self, our family, customers and prospective customers – the last classification basically means anyone in the world. 🙂
Do not compare you to anyone else. Each one of us are unique, else God would have made all of us the same. There would always be someone doing better than us, with less time than us, with more resources than us, with better support than us, with better ‘luck’ than us, with fewer customers than us – if we look for it. It’s okay, there is no need to lose our energy on such things, rather invest the same energy in our own business. And soon we can be ‘that someone’. This mindset helps you treat every one with respect.
Bottom line, its be nice to be important but its important to be nice.
7. Apply What You Learn
In this information age, Internet is both boon and bane. You have so much information available, which is good. And you have so much information available, which is bad! If you know when to stop ‘consuming’ information and taking action on it – you’d stop this good from turning bad.
Avoid information overload.
I’ve found that taking action is critical to move ahead in business. Standing at the same place doesn’t get one anywhere. But moving towards your goal at least gets you closer to it.
Avoid things that stop you from taking action. A Perfectionist attitude is one such thing. Building that perfect web page, or perfect sales copy may not be worth spending one more extra day, if you could get it to a good-enough and move on. Things can always be improved later.
Bookmarking is a great way of avoiding information overloading by saving interesting/useful information for later consumption. www.todoist.com is a great tool for this.
Hope you’ll find some of these lessons from successful online entrepreneurs useful. If you do, then take action and start using your top 1 or 2 habits right away!
As I wrote these, many more ‘lessons-learned’ rushed to my mind. May be I’ll keep them for another post.
What are some of your lessons/habits of being effective and efficient at your business? Share below, I’d love to learn from your experience.
To your success,