I'm not keeping any of my 2016 New Years Resolutions. Then again, I didn't make any specific ones this year. Instead, I chose three growth themes to help me change my habits and become a better person, which I trust will translate into being a better business owner.
My 2016 personal development themes for good habits:
1. Read more.
I would love to read one book a month. Unfortunately, I'm not that fast a reader. And between shuttling my kids to all of their activities and running a company, there is not a lot of free reading time. I heard about an app called Blinklist. It is like the Cliffs Notes for books, including audio versions that I can turn on in the car. I often have 20 minute drives several times each week.
Blinklist's audio books can be listened to in about that time. They claim to have over 1,000 non-fiction titles. So far, I've listened to condensed books from Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki and David Meerman Scott. That's three books so far and we're not even through January yet. If I can keep this up, I'll be on my way to learning the content from a few dozen books this year.
The good habit of reading will help you discover new ways to build your business. An IT marketing expert (that's a link to my IT marketing book) has probably already figured out exactly what you need to do. When you read, make notes in the book's margins or on a separate sheet of paper so that you can create action plans to build a bigger company.
2. Communicate more.
The part I like most about Blinklist is that they send me an email regularly to stay in touch. They tell me about other books that might interest me. They keep me engaged.
What do you do to stay engaged with your prospects and customers? If you're out of sight, you're out of mind. Be like Blinklist. Send an email newsletter to your contacts just to stay in touch. This is one of the best business habits you can do to grow your company. Teach your clients and prospects IT tips that can help them do their job faster and easier. Educate them on security issues that they need to keep in mind. It will make you top-of-mind so when they have an IT need, they will think of you first.
3. Play more.
Remember when you were a kid? The most fun part of the school day was usually recess, or maybe art class. Decompression time is critical. It allows your brain to breath, to take in the world so that you can see things in a different light. As a small business owner, we often feel that if we're not spending our time working, we're not being productive. However, numerous medical studies have shown that downtime makes people more productive - you work smarter, not harder.
At MailerMailer, we have a little fun pretty often. We take our staff out for birthdays. The birthday boy or girl gets to pick a nice restaurant and we go there for a tasty lunch, courtesy of the company. When we hit certain company milestones, we break out a bottle of champagne. And when we go to conferences, we don't head to bed early - you'll find our team having a beer with new friends.
Take time out each week to play, watch a game, meditate and spend time with loved ones. You probably drive yourself pretty hard. Give your mind the time to relax and you will likely find new opportunities where you didn't think to look. The best way to do this is to put it on your calendar. Busy people need to schedule downtime or it will never happen.
Bonus: you'll have more fun and be less stressed. And you'll probably be running a bigger company this time next year!