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How to Grow Your Small Business in Any Economy, Part 1

How to Grow Your Small Business in Any Economy, Part 1

    Think your small business can’t grow in this economy? You’re wrong. Improving your mindset and minimizing your risk are possible in all economies.

    If you pay attention to the media and get sucked into an “economic panic,” you might think that trying to grow a business in today’s economy is a crazy notion. But many of the companies you know and trust were started in economic conditions much like the ones we’re experiencing today. Disney, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft were all started during recessions. The economic conditions in which they were started didn’t doom them to failure.

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    But let’s face it: Small business is multi-faceted and as such, requires a multi-faceted approach. What you’re thinking and how you’re thinking have as much of an impact on the level of your success as anything else, especially for the small business owner.

    That’s why this week I’m focusing on getting your head in the right place for small business success. Next week, I’ll move on to logistics and strategies for minimizing risk and growing your business.

    Let’s start off with a conversation about where most small business owners start getting into trouble. It all starts at home, right in the brain, especially in an economy like this.

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    Lack-Based Thinking

    Lack-based thinking is when you think things like: “I can’t afford….” “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for….” It’s all about fear, uncertainty and self-doubt.

    Lack-based thinking constantly hammers away at the mindset you need to succeed. You won’t have the drive to succeed or put your dollars in the right places if you have “I can’t afford it” floating around in your head. Focus on making a shift so you can start putting your mind and your money where they can bring you back the most return.

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    Strategies to Make the Shift

    Develop and Use Affirmations:

    The first thing that you can do to start making the shift out of lack-based thinking is to use affirmations. This is just good psychology: in essence, you’re re-training your brain. To get started, make a list of affirmations or declarations and say them aloud every day, at least three times a day, for 30 days. If you miss a day, start over at Day 1. It’s absolutely imperative that you do this continuously, without a break, for 30 days. Research shows that’s how long it takes your brain to retrain itself, so if you do something for two weeks, miss a day, and then start up again, even if you do it for another two weeks, your brain won’t be retrained. It has to be 30 consecutive days, without missing a day.

    The best way to get into this habit is to decide on Day 1 that you are fully, 100 percent committed to taking this action. Don’t accept any excuses from yourself.

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    Focus on the Larger Purpose:

    Maybe you started a business so you could travel the world or just so you could relax, knowing you have money invested for a long and enjoyable retirement. Create tangible reminders of the reason you started down this path: a vision board, a picture, or a bold statement posted in your workspace. Reaffirm what you’re working toward and you’ll find a continuously renewed will to keep going.

    Track Your Successes:

    Stay focused on the positive by keeping track of your successes, even the small ones. Make a list and review them every morning and evening. This focuses your attention on what you’re doing right and keeps you concentrated on moving in a positive direction.

    Once you get your brain engaged for success, you’ll be in a much better position to take action and achieve your goals and dreams.

    Stay tuned: In Part 2, I’ll cover some of the best strategies for growing your business in any economic climate.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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