You work hard. You buy the courses, read the books, go to the seminars, but your business is still growing small or maybe even non-existent.
You just KNOW that the secret to your success is in there somewhere. If you could just copy their talent, or their skills or even some daily habit you know you will see your productivity increase and your results skyrocket. But is that really the case?
So many times when we see successful people we wonder what can we do to copy them, or what are we not doing that we could be to follow in their footsteps and see those same results. But the reality is that it is not necessarily about learning a new skill or talent, or even adding something new at all. Sometimes the biggest gains we get are from stopping or altering your current habits.
Fatal Habit #1: Letting others control your morning
If you are having trouble getting a lot of things done, first look at your morning routine. You probably wake up groggy almost every morning, hit the snooze button once or twice before dragging yourself out of bed, and what is the first thing you are likely to do? Probably check your phone.
That’s the problem. Right away you are putting other people’s agendas ahead of your own. Their texts, their emails, their Facebook posts. Why not make yourself the first priority in the morning? What could you do instead that puts your goals and your life as the main priority?
Here are a few options:
- Read a book, just a chapter, heck just a few pages would be better for you than checking email. It will give you some new ideas just to start your day. It might trigger a new idea for a blog post, or someone you should be reaching out to. Either way, your business improves right from the start of the day. Your mind actually has all day to work on developing solutions for whatever ideas you got from your early morning reading.
- Meditate, either on your own or with one of many awesome guided meditations out there (I personally love guided meditations because I struggle to sit there myself…my mind tends to wander).
- Listen to an audio book (same benefits as reading a book without even needing to open your eyes).
- Listen to a podcast. This might take a little bit longer than the other options, but again it will teach you some interesting things that can foster creativity and inspire new ideas for your business.
All of these are fine. They will wake up your mind and get you ready to attack your day far better than the useless junk that is probably in your inbox or on your newsfeed. In fact, try turning email off on your phone and see how much better your morning is.
The best part of this change in your morning routine is that it takes up less than 10 minutes of your morning. If you say you don’t have 10 minutes in the morning, try getting up 10 minutes earlier to get this done. The result will be huge for you.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing that you can do first thing in the morning, is to work on your biggest, most pressing challenge for at least 25 minutes before you ever think about looking at your phone or checking your email. I would recommend giving yourself a full hour. By working on your biggest challenge first thing in morning you will ensure that you are putting in enough time to eventually blow past it and move on to other tasks to continue growing your business.
Fatal Habit #2: Losing focus from your current project
This is one of the more common habits we face as entrepreneurs today, as there are just so many distractions: television, social media, netflix etc. And then there’s all the things going on in your social life, the text messages from your significant other, kids running around the house. Sometimes it is just hard to stay focused and it gets us knocked off track, costing us valuable work time trying to restart after each interruption.
Additionally, sometimes even when our phones aren’t going crazy and the kids are not running around the house, we still are not as productive as we could be because we are not entirely sure what we should be doing. We have all seen tons of people who recommend creating huge “to-do” lists with like 8-10 tasks on them, but this is not ideal.
Why? Because it is incredibly difficult to get 8-10 things done each day, especially if the business is not your only focus. Instead of motivating you, it ends up demoralizing you because everyday you feel incomplete because you are never completing your entire list. Try creating a list of just the three most important tasks for you to get done that day. This gives you an achievable number of tasks each day. You actually look forward to getting them all done because then you can enjoy some time with your family, your friends or a hobby guilt free.
But here’s the trick to really make sure you get things done. So many times we will write down that we need to get this done, but will stop completely when we hit any kind of resistance. So how do we ensure that we know exactly what to do to complete our three daily tasks? The night before, write them down before you go to bed.
By writing down the necessary steps to complete each task you will be able to plan out the exact steps you will be taking to complete each task. This helps you from getting stuck or being unsure what your next move is. When you complete all the steps for each task, you are done, go enjoy yourself for a bit, write your three tasks for tomorrow and do it all over again the next day.
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” – Paulo Coelho
Fatal Habit #3: Doing non-income producing activities first
Far too often we get bogged down in unimportant tasks that do not grow our business. But because we are doing something we think we are being busy and/or productive. The reality is that we are actually neither. The reality is that all tasks are not created equally and you need to know how to prioritize which tasks to do first, and which tasks can be put off until later, outsourced or scrapped entirely.
There are 4 different types of Business Activities:
1. Income Producing Activities
These are the activities that will immediately provide you with sales. This can include webinars, writing sales pages, writing email launches or creating sales videos (for a service based business this would be actually performing the service). The simple rule for this group is if it won’t make you money it doesn’t belong here, this will be your top priority tasks.
2. Asset Creation
These are the tasks that will create useful pieces of your income producing processes. This includes creating products, making website pages (for sales or products), building out new sales funnels and guest posting. These activities are generally related to either product creation or list building.
3. Active Asset Nurturing
Once you have an asset created this is when you are providing additional work/value to the asset. Tasks in this category include creating new bonus modules for courses or sending out a value adding email to your list (notice how I did not just say send out an email, a sales pitch email…whether your product or an affiliate product does NOT qualify here, that actually is higher up). Basically, these tasks are providing additional value to assets that are already up and running.
4. Everything Else
This is everything else. The basic rule here is that if it’s not one of the first three tasks you either delay it, delegate it (outsource it) or discard it. There’s nothing here that is an immediate priority and you should avoid spending as much time on these tasks as possible. Doing $10/hr work will not get you moving toward your goals.
Set up a spreadsheet with the 4 types of tasks, list all the tasks you do or need to do and put them in each category. List all the tasks that you do, whether daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. For the category 4s, figure out what you will delay until you have free time, what you will outsource and what you will just delete from your list of tasks.
Fatal Flaw #4: Poor personal health habits
Many times we expect that we have to “grind” our way to success. Unfortunately that means we end up thinking we need to just work on business and ignore everything else: fun, family, friends, but the most important thing that we cannot ignore is our personal health.
Sir Richard Branson has said the number one “secret” to improved productivity is to work out. Because our body is the single most important investment in your life. Working out increases your energy, your sleep and your focus, all things that you need to do your best work. The good news is that you can work out fairly easily, because you don’t need to be the next Mr. Olympia to receive the benefits of regular exercise.
For me, I like to do some kind of quick workout right after getting out of bed to get the blood flowing, and also because getting in a light workout before eating a meal allows your body to burn more fat as it will pull from your reserves since you haven’t recently fed it anything for it to burn.
This can be a simple program consisting of stretching, pushups and body squats (or whatever types of bodyweight exercises you like to do). You can do a full workout later in the day, or after work if still at a 9 to 5 job. If you are a morning person feel free to go nuts and do your full workout first thing in the morning. Additionally you have to fuel your body properly in order to get peak performance. If you eat better your body will react better: better focus, more energy, happier.
Again, much like workout plans there are tons of options for nutrition plans online. I personally like the Tim Ferris Slow Carb Diet. It is simple, easy to follow and starts giving you immediate results (I lost 5 pounds the first week I did it, that made it easier to get past the adjustment period and keep going). This allows you to be healthy and still enjoy your cheat day (FREE TIP: Don’t drink away your calories…save that for your cheat days).
Fatal Flaw #5: Not taking action
It is great if you have the best morning routine, you eat the best foods, drink enough water and even find time to workout. But what about your business? It’s great that you have the entire Dan Kennedy library of products (Dan Kennedy ROCKS, by the way), but your business will not grow unless you take ACTION. The only way you will make money is by taking action.
All those “think about the money and it will come” mantras are simply woo woo crap. It takes real work to build a business that makes money versus one that is just an expensive hobby. Why expensive? Think of all those courses that we buy, hoping that each one provides that ONE secret that explodes our business. So we just keep consuming course, after course after course, and yet the results never seem to come.
A good course is not designed to be consumed in full. It is designed for you to go through a module, and then take action on what you’ve learned, and then go to the next module. Rinse, wash and repeat.
A good rule of thumb is that for every one hour of training you should take 3 hours worth of action. Now some will take longer and some will be shorter, but that should be the goal (especially since you should end up having some ongoing tasks that you will have to keep doing over and over again, such as writing emails, making sales funnels or writing guest posts).
“Never confuse motion with action.” – Benjamin Franklin
Fatal Flaw #6: Allowing negative influences into your life
Honestly, I was tempted to make this #1, because one of the biggest flaws that we make is keeping negative influences in our life, this can include television, radio or even other people. To be successful we need to RUTHLESSLY keep those negative influences away from us. They can be poison to our mood, our minds, and our productivity.
Both television and radio have too many things you cannot control. Things like commercials or news stories that will not help you. Food commercials that give you unhealthy food cravings, medicine commercials about different diseases and side effects…it is all just really sad and depressing. And they both hurt you physically, mentally and emotionally.
But I’m also not going to tell you that you have to cut it out entirely (although that is obviously ideal), as I’d be a hypocrite because I love Shark Tank, The Profit, and Major League Baseball. As for the radio, that one is much easier to replace. You can listen to an audio book from a source like Audible or your local library, or use an app to listen to one of your favorite podcasts. By turning your car into a classroom you can get literally days worth of extra learning in during the down time of driving.
But use it as a welcome break from your hard work rather than something that you do out of habit. Treat it like a small reward for a good couple days of work rather than an everyday event.
The worst negative influences of all, can be our friends and family. While you cannot let them try to destroy your dreams (and they will if you let them). So you really have two options: Avoid spending time with them as much as possible (understanding that they are your family and friends so you will likely see some of them a bit even if they don’t support your business goals) or try to turn them into an ally by asking them for advice, put them in your shoes and then asking what they would do if they were you.
And finally there are those people who are just so negative that you may just need to cut them out of your life entirely. I had former teammates who I haven’t spoken with in years now because of how unsupportive they were about my entrepreneurial ventures.
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
Fatal Flaw #7: Not measuring your progress & results
Baseball great Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” This is true with our businesses as well. We can do all this work to try and get results, but how do we know what is working and what isn’t? One word; metrics.
But not just any metrics, pick metrics that are based on your goals. For example, if you want to get to 1000 subscribers on your email list, you will likely care about metrics such as total subscribers each month, and your conversion rates from your opt-in page or other lead capture devices. If your goals are mostly based on income then our metrics will be based more along sales and expenses.
But the key is to give yourself specific numbers to shoot for: 1000 subscribers, 25% conversion rate, $100k in sales etc. Then give yourself specific time frames to measure (I personally like monthly, quarterly and yearly goals). This gives you a few short term goals to make changes on, as well as the full year goals that give you a full picture of your business.