It’s never easy being a small business owner. While these habits can’t guarantee success, adopting these will put you on the right path.
Habits of a successful business owner
They get organized
You don’t have time to waste. Every minute you spend tracking down a misplaced invoice is a minute you could have spent generating more revenue. The best small business owners get organized as soon as possible.
If this comes naturally to you … congratulations. You’re well on your way to being a successful small business owner. Luckily, there are ways for the rest of us to train ourselves to become more organized. I’ve found setting priorities and deadlines (and sticking to them) can go a long way.
They embrace technology
As a small business owner, you know how important it is to find the right tool for the job. Nowadays, the right tool often involves technology and/or software to tackle your core business needs.
I’m not saying you need to live on the bleeding edge of technology. A VR app for your plumbing business doesn’t make sense. It does make sense to be open to new technology tools that make your day-to-day business life easier.
There are multiple modern tools that will do the heavy lifting for you in simple, cost-effective ways. This includes basic accounting, inventory management, payments, payroll, advertising and more.
They maximize deductions
Tax evasion is illegal and you should never do this. Yet, I firmly believe every small business owner should aim to cut their taxes in every legal way. The more deductions you claim, the lower your taxable income will be. That means you’ll have more money to reinvest in your business.
I can’t emphasize this enough: pay all your required taxes. Be sure you know the tax basics for small business owners to know what you have to pay. From there, be sure to know all the deductions you can take. Some deduction you should be taking include:
- Costs of starting your business
- The costs of your office supplies
- Your business software costs
- Furniture for your business
- Tax-qualified retirement contributions
- 50% of Self-Employment Taxes
- Meals, entertainment and gifts related to business
The mileage deduction is also something small business owners can’t afford to overlook because every mile you’re driving for your business can have real value. Think about all the drives you do to meet clients or to pick up supplies … these miles can quickly add up.
For small business owners, work often doesn’t stop when you leave the shop. Carving out a specified part of your house to do work in and then taking the home office deduction can decrease your tax burden. An added benefit of having the home office is that it enables you to increase your mileage deduction by eliminating the IRS’s commuting rule.
They’re marketing all the time
Marketing isn’t about putting all your eggs in one basket every six months. It’s about creating sustainable ways to create new customers. That’s why the most successful small business owners are constantly marketing.
Depending on your business, your marketing can include: local advertisements, printing up good-looking business cards, attending trade shows, buying internet ads, billboards, commercials, direct mail, email newsletters, maintaining social media accounts, public relations, offering free trials, offering coupons, and more.
You should also have ways to measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities. Digital marketing is somewhat easier to quantify but look for ways to track down where and why customers are coming to your business. This could be as simple as asking them, “How did you hear of us?”
Marketing doesn’t have to be an expensive task. Here are 10 low-cost ways to market your business that apply to almost every commercial endeavor out there.
They build strong teams
No matter how smart or talented you are, it’s hard to succeed going at it alone. The best business owners know how valuable it is to have a strong team.
I’m fond of finding people who are strong in areas where you are weak. For example, if you’re a phenomenal salesperson but can’t stay organized, having a detail-oriented assistant or office manager makes the business stronger. For businesses, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
There’s always a question about whether you should hire employees or independent contractors. This guide walks you through the differences, as well as the pros and cons of each type of worker.
They know when to delegate
If you’ve built a strong team, use them. The best leaders set the right vision for their business and then let their workers go about achieving it. I don’t blame you for micro-managing (especially at the beginning) but business owners who see long-term success are capable of taking a step back and letting others handle certain tasks.
It should come down to priorities, time and trust. You have to accept you can’t do everything. So, set priorities on how you use your time. Then, trust in the people or vendors you’ve selected to handle the other tasks.
They take care of themselves
This is arguably the most important — yet toughest—habit on this list. Too often, small business owners pour everything they have into their work. They don’t take time to take care of themselves and wind up physically and emotionally exhausted.
Not only is this bad for you, but it may also damage your business.
There’s growing evidence that overwork hurts people and the companies they work for. If you’re sleep-deprived or burned out, you likely won’t make the best decisions for your business.
Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your business. This includes getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising and, most importantly, spending time away from work. Finding ways to recharge can provide untold rewards for you and your business.
MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.