I was on a mentoring call the other day and one thing kept coming up again and again. I call it a business discipline. Like every sportsmen or athlete, when it comes to focus and getting things done, anyone who is running a creative business should have the same attitude. Now, this can be quite challenging especially when you work on your business alone. So if you feel like you’re lost or you’re losing focus, or you feel you’re burning out, here are my best habits to have in business…which will help you with your business survival:
- Doing the same thing everyday – honing and working on your skills
Similarly, you should approach your business skills in this way. So for example, if you need to pitch yourself to potential customers or clients but you’re finding it hard, do it more. Try different angles and learn from every conversation you have. Read books and case studies and try to apply techniques, which you think would be suitable for your situation. The idea is that you might not necessarily like what you’re doing (of course you try to do what you like doing every day) but remember that there is always a balance. It might be an interesting conversation you’ve just had that will make your day.
I must admit I didn’t like swimming, it’s something which I was introduced to at a very young age but the benefit of that kind of regime gave me the foundations of self-discipline and understanding targets, which leads me onto…
- Having a strict schedule – working towards self-defined timescale
I think that business requires tons of self-discipline and the ability to manage time to maximise productivity. There are four things which really helped me to be more productive:
1. Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour longer – either way you’re gaining extra time to do tasks which you otherwise had to fit in your normal schedule. For example, I do tasks which don’t require so much focus at night and tasks that require a lot of focus first thing in the morning. You have to know yourself and work out a schedule that fits well around your productivity pattern.
2. Achieve zero inbox – leaving work with no unopened emails was another big help for me. This means that when I start a new day I don’t have to remember to deal with emails which I received days ago. Try to be disciplined and deal with as many of them as possible on daily basis so you don’t give yourself extra tasks and don’t fall behind, or worse miss out on opportunities.
3. Switch off emails while working on something important – this has been a game-changer for me. Nowadays, we are all plugged in on smart phones and the inbox is constantly open. However, once I logged out I found myself being more focused. I manage to complete tasks quicker and more efficiently than if was being disturbed by notification sounds.
4. Time-slotting tasks – another game-changer. It goes back to my childhood and swimming and trying to beat my PB (personal best). These days I’m very strict and try to set myself a time-slot in which I have to complete whatever I’m doing. It might be doing VAT returns, creating marketing content, doing some research or scheduling calls. Try to time-slot your tasks and see if you can fit in the time-slot or even finish them earlier. Put yourself under artificial time pressure and see how this will impact your productivity.
- Setting business goals and targets
This is another area which to some can be quite blurry. I believe that we can easily achieve three targets or goals a week. Now, I don’t mean anything big. We all have small and big projects we are continuously working on. What I mean is for example, if you know that you are launching a product, you focus on getting three main things done, which will lead you to the next stage. This might mean: 1/ finalising the pricing or discount incentive, 2/ contacting press and bloggers to help you spread the word maybe through a giveaway, 3/ creating content for the launch.
- Having confidence to try everything and anything
How many of us have been in a situation which we’ve “never done before”. Positive mindset is key. Tackle everything with “can do” attitude. Never put limitations on yourself because you’ve never done it before. Trying is better than avoiding or doing nothing. Train your brain to challenges. After all, if everything was easy, anyone would be doing the same thing. Your own mental fitness will help you to see things more positively. Having, and practising, positive thinking, will help you grow in confidence and as a person too.
- Analysing data
Business is all about data. And, to get data you need to ask questions and analyse the results and outcomes. It’s about asking for help. So many of us are worried that we will look like fools if we ask. But, honestly, who cares? Stop caring about what others think and get the data you need. I don’t mean just analysing Google Analytics. You need to go way deeper. I mean, do you really know how your market works? Do you really know why your competitors are doing things the way they do? Do you really know if there is a need for what you offer? And if so, do you really know how and what is the best way to attract your customers? What can you do to be more disruptive rather than passive or even worse copy someone else?
I always recommend to speak to your customers to collect data. Did you notice, for example, that someone purchased your product in a colour that is little bit unusual? Or, maybe you noticed that they styled your product in a different way? Maybe instead of using your chair as a dining chair, they use is as a desk chair. Why? Ask them why?
All you have to do is pick up the phone, or send them an email, saying that you want to make sure that they like your product and that you noticed that they use it in such and such a way, and that you think it’s such a brilliant idea. How did they come up with it? What is something they tried or what is something they thought about before?
Get the answers to your whys!
Hope this helps. Kxx
Want to be part of a group of like-minded creatives that are going through what you’re going through? We have an amazing community of emerging designers, interior designers, stylists, fashion accessory brands, artists and photographers, where we help each other to grow. This is where I encourage sharing knowledge and brand collaborations. No fakes, self-interest liars and backstabbers are allowed. Please join us here. And, feel free to share if you found this useful!