Being a profitable entrepreneur requires a dedication to hard work, confidence, and the adoption of positive habits (to name just a few of the requirements for success).
We all know how detrimental bad habits can be to building a business: poor time management can push back project milestones; poor focus can distract you from your priorities— the list goes on.
But what are the quality habits that entrepreneurs must have in order to succeed? What should an entrepreneur be doing on a daily basis to ensure his or her profitability?
Consider the following 4 habits, which are of course not the only things you need to be doing in order to be profitable, but a good start to put you on the path to success.
Plan your time in advance using “buckets”
All successful entrepreneurs know that time can be their biggest enemy. That’s why the most effective entrepreneurs have a method of allocating their time effectively. One strategy is to plan your time in advance by using the bucket system. This means that you should focus your time and energies around your biggest to-do list items. While this can be a challenge even for the most skilled time-managers, don’t get bogged down on the little things, which will only get in the way of achieving your big-picture tasks. This minutiae doesn’t drive value for your business, so why focus all your efforts there?
Grant Baldwin, founder of The Speaker Lab takes a similar approach that starts on the weekend. “Generally on Sunday nights, I sit down and map out my week. I review what I have coming up and any meetings, travel, speaking engagements, or prior commitments I have.”
Every Sunday, try to plan out the next week by deciding how much you will spend on each big category. For example, you may decide you want to allocate 40% of your time to Client Projects, 40% to Business Development and 20% Admin. However you decide to divvy up your schedule, the key is to plan ahead, so you don’t get off track when the week actually rolls around.
Know your numbers
Without keeping track of your income, expenses, and profit, you’re not a business owner! You need to know your numbers inside and out, and that requires careful, regular check-ins. Devote ten minutes a week to reviewing your income, expenses, and profits. To keep track, you can do it the low-tech, manual way and keep an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or, you can use a free finance and tax app like Hurdlr, which will manage your numbers for you. Regardless of your preferred approach, knowing your numbers is critical to being a successful entrepreneur.
Always look forward
It’s easy to get bogged down in your current workload, but in order to grow your income streams, you need to always be looking for the next deal or client. High-performing businesses are always generating leads, so it’s key that you have your sights on the future, even while working with current clients.
Practically speaking, try to set a daily goal for yourself. For example, commit to reaching out to (at least) 5 business development contacts each day. While some days may be all duds, if you’re consistent, you will inevitably make some real, hard leads.
It’s rare that you’ll have customers knocking down your door for business opportunities, especially as a young business. Instead of assuming that business will come your way, you need to take action: take initiative by making cold calls, sending emails, and following up until you get a definitive ‘no.’ Be persistent. These days, everyone gets distracted, and leads may need a friendly reminder from you that you’re still interested in their business.
To follow up effectively, leverage technology to reach more people with your business opportunities. You can try an email add-on such as Right Inbox or Boomerang, which will remind you to follow up on emails from potential clients that are sitting in your inbox and/or schedule emails for later, more optimal times. The idea is to keep the conversation moving. Ultimately, you will see the pay-off via your bottom line.
* This post originally appeared on entrepreneur.com