5 Habits Solo Entrepreneurs Need to Break Right Away

  •    Carrie is a designer and content marketer. She works promoting the Roanoke Region of Virginia and has more than 10 years of media and marketing experience.

When you don't work in an office with a lot of other people, bad habits have a way of sneaking up on you. Now is the time to recognize these mistakes and stop making them before they have a negative impact on your business.

​Be honest if you have fallen into any of these traps (and straighten up right now).

1. Speaking Negatively About Other Businesses

Don't badmouth the competition or vendors or anyone else that you work with or could potentially work with in the future. Burning bridges is not the way to get ahead as a solo entrepreneur or small business owner. Part of your job is to network and expand your reach; being nice to others in the market will help you do just that.

Speaking negatively about any other business – even in passing to friends – can come across in the wrong manner. It's not flattering. It won't help you sell more. And you will be the one who suffers in the long run.

Success suggestion: Follow the adage “when you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all." Make a habit of talking up other small businesses that you love to work with. (It's just good karma.)

​2. Procrastinating

It is the evil that every solo worker deals with. There are just so many distractions – Facebook, kids, laundry, daydreaming – but don't get caught in the loop of putting things off until tomorrow.

While procrastinating might make you feel less stressed today, it will catch up with you. You'll only be more stressed later. If you are already behind, consider clearing off a day on your calendar to play catch up and start over again, procrastination-free.

Success suggestion: Get into good working and time-saving habits. Here are two ideas to try:

  1. Give everything a deadline and reward yourself for meeting goals.
  2. Clear 5 minute items from you inbox as soon as you get them. This means if you get a request via email that you can complete in 5 minutes or less, do it right away. Hello, inbox zero!

3. Working 24/7 Without a Break

When you work alone or own a business, it is easy to let that business consume you and your time. You are always working, planning or filling orders. This is the formula for early burnout.

Learn to organize, plan and delegate tasks. While letting go of some parts of the business can be tough, you will be better served in the end. (Why do all that accounting if you can hire a bookkeeper that can do it in half the time?)

Success suggestion: Schedule a vacation. Put down a deposit so you won't change your mind.

​4. Not Having a "Brand"

Your brand is just as important for businesses with one employee as it is for major corporations. This is your identity. It is how people will find you online (i.e. your website name and domain) and relate to your business.

Having a brand means you need a couple of key things: A name and logo (with that associated website), a good idea of what that brand is and what it means to connect with the brand, and a consistent presence. You need to connect with users in a way that they can connect to and will start to recognize. Consistency is key — if every communication looks or sounds different, users won't learn who you are and what you are about.

Success suggestion: If branding is not your strength, find a marketing partner to help you create an easy to follow plan that you can stick to. Use integrated tools like Brand Genie to maintain consistency.

​5. Forgetting to Back Up Files

No matter what type of business you run, there's probably a growing stack of files somewhere nearby. From digital bits to pieces of paper, it is important to track, organize and back up all this important information.

It might sound like a drag, but imagine losing all the images of your online inventory due to a computer crash or misplacing all the receipts that you will need for expenses come tax time. You need a backup system now.

Success suggestion: Add a file backup event to your calendar every week. Use a system that's easy for you to remember and simple for you to understand and keep the date with back up organization. You can also back up your website whenever you're about to make big changes or want to preserve important information.

Conclusion

Are any of these bad habits getting you down? Now is the time to revamp your routine and get on the right track. You'll be a happier, more organized business of one!