With that in mind, we’ve asked some top industry experts and business owners for the habits that have helped them achieve greatness at work – from staying up-to-date on industry trends, to letting others take the reins from time to time.
Though habits and rituals typically tend to be selfish things by their very nature, two of our business insiders mentioned the importance of positive reinforcement when it came to their workforce. Ian Blackburn, MD at Hidepark Leather says, “I believe it’s best practice to repay anyone that has helped you out in one way or another – true success is rarely born from just one person”.
We’re inclined to agree: a happier team means more enthusiasm, more passion, and better results.
Likewise, Aidan Bell, founder of sustainable building materials supplier EnviroBuild recommends empowering your employees as soon as you can: “empowered people learn faster, work harder, and enjoy life more. I’m also a firm believer that people only make mistakes when they are trying new things, so I make it a personal habit to rejoice in them”.
The path to success is paved with good intentions, but it can be easy to get distracted, especially by routine admin tasks. When distractions build up, they decrease productivity and result in rushed work or, worse still, missed deadlines. To avoid these roadblocks, Aidan says he checks his email four times a day: “this regime means that I can focus on other tasks; without it, emails would end up diluting my attention and sucking time out of the day”.
Similarly, Matt Deighton, MD at bespoke furniture retailer Sofas by Saxon notes: “in my experience, one of the most important habits for success is the ability to focus on a specific task. Your phone and email are two of the biggest disruptors throughout the working day, so the easiest way to develop focus is to remove them from the equation until you're on track. Set specific times to check each of them so you’re not fighting your inbox and phone calls when a vital task is demanding attention”.
Many of the business owners we spoke with brought this up as something they regularly paid attention to; maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the current industry climate is undoubtedly important to many. If you’re on top of trends, then leveraging that knowledge will surely result in favourable results.
Mike Smith, Senior Director of business debt consultancy CompanyDebt says, “I try to continuously educate myself so that I can improve and evolve quickly. I always try to remind myself that if I don’t, Darwin’s rue will kick in – which is a very strong motivator!”
Likewise, Ian mentions that, “in an increasingly digital world, it’s essential that business leaders and owners get clued in quickly on new strategies and ways of working”.
Business owners who fail to do the requisite research could stunt their opportunities for growth. Lee Murphy, MD at software company Pandle advises: “without a deep knowledge of your market and where it’s heading, it is very difficult to become successful. Therefore, putting aside some time each day to keep learning is vital.
“I personally make a habit of spending 1-2 hours a day reading industry news, looking at what competitors are doing, and learning from experts about all aspects of my industry”.
In such rapidly changing environments, raising your own awareness of technology is critical to moving forward successfully. Ken Meany, International Recruitment Director at Fircroft Group, states: “like many, my industry is extremely fast-paced – and with the increasing application of SaaS and other technological applications, there’s always something new to learn and be aware of.
“Finding out which knowledgeable experts are writing about your industry and reading them regularly is great way of keeping up-to-speed with such developments. Plus, if you have a commute spent in a car, train or bus, podcasts can also be a great way of passively absorbing the kind of information and knowledge that will give you a competitive edge in your career”.
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“Your business will have no chance of scaling up if you attempt to micro-manage every aspect of it”, says Lee. Managers valuing detail and processes might be inclined to involve themselves in their team’s day-to-day – but it’s important to consider how employees might view such intervention. For many, this can signal a loss of trust and faith in them being able to do their jobs.
Lee continues, “assuming you have chosen the right people to grow your company, trusting employees to act autonomously will bring many benefits. Giving employees greater responsibilities can motivate them to be more productive, as well as making them feel their contributions are valued. Get into the habit of establishing trust and delegating – doing so will also enable you to work on other aspects of the business”.
The time you’ve freed up for yourself, Lee says, allows you to work on your business, rather than just in it. Falling into the trap of doing too much routine work can stymie a business’ chances of growth.
Finally, we’ll leave you with some words from Alan Blaney, owner of fraud prevention training company Focus Training: "My mantra for success is derived from the thought of Greek philosopher Aristotle: 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' With that in mind, continually focus on your own professional development and stay in the game!"
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