This was originally published on AllBusiness.
By the time you realize that being an entrepreneur is a lifelong journey, you’ve already solidified a lot of the patterns and practices you use to run your business. In my mind, analyzing those habits and ways of doing business, and tweaking them where necessary, can help you improve, no matter how many times you’ve been around the block.
I have come up with four tips on how to become a better business owner, many of which rely on bringing more mindfulness into business. These tips aren’t about working more or making more money. In fact, they may seem to be quite the opposite. And yet, I’ve seen business owners not only become happier when they shift how they operate, but also more financially successful.
Become a Better Business Owner
Open to improving your entrepreneurial skills? Here's where to start.
1. Be Open to Your Intuition
We all have that niggling voice inside that tells us when something is a bad idea (or a good one). The problem is, most of us don’t listen to it.
Instead of writing off that voice, I encourage you to embrace it. I can’t explain what intuition is or where it comes from, but it’s real. It’s even been studied scientifically.
The best way to open up to your intuition is to slow down. If you’re someone whose day is filled with tasks morning until night, you likely won’t hear your intuition calling your name. It requires creating space in your schedule to breathe and reflect.
Take a day off a week (we’ll talk about the benefits of taking time off in a minute), and start with padding 10 to 15 minutes between appointments. This gives you time to let go of the last Zoom call you had and prepare for what’s next.
In this period, you can check in with how you’re feeling. Tired? Stressed? Overwhelmed? This is your body and mind communicating with you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might not be a good time to have a meeting where you have to make big decisions. Consider rescheduling.
If you have more time, get away from your desk and take a few breaths with your eyes closed. Bam! You just learned how to meditate.
When you have to make a decision, aim to move away from thinking “what should I do” and toward “what do I want to do?” Your intuition, once you tune into it, can help you decide whether to take on a new client (“the money’s good, but she’s going to be a nightmare to work with”) and how to grow your business (“it’s scary, but what would hiring a salesperson look like?”).
2. Take Time Out
I’ve already hinted at the importance of stepping away from your business, if only in 10-minute increments. But if you can do more (and you can), you’ll reap so many benefits.
I know so many entrepreneurs who “take vacations,” but really are glued to their phones or laptops the entire time. This isn’t a vacation.
Taking an actual vacation and completely disconnecting from work may be scary for many, but trust me: it’s worth it. Yes, it involves planning ahead and finding someone to cover for you if your business can’t support you being out for a few weeks. You’d be surprised how little clients actually do need you, especially if they know you’re on vacation.
Before you take off a month to hike the Alps, work up to it by taking off a day or two here and there. I’ve made a practice of taking off Fridays, and while not everyone can do that, it has been instrumental in helping me disconnect, rejuvenate, and rekindle the flame for my work.
3. Get an Accountability Partner
So many of us are solopreneurs, which means we make all of the decisions and the onus is on us to actually follow through on our plans.
To become a better business owner, it can be helpful to have what I call an accountability partner: someone who you can bounce ideas off, get advice from, and be supported by. This might look like a mentor, a fellow entrepreneur, or a business coach. While you want this person to be one-part cheerleader, they also need to be one-part accountability partner and remind you of your goals when you need a little motivation to follow through.
If you’re accustomed to doing everything on your own, you may be surprised how much you love having someone to talk to about the trials and tribulations of running a business.
4. Constantly Work on Improving Yourself
Being a business owner shouldn’t be a stagnant practice. The way you do business now may not look like how you did business 10 years ago. In fact, it shouldn’t. Just like you may turn to personal development books, blogs, and experts to find your joy and let go of limitations in your personal life, so too should you work to improve yourself as an entrepreneur.
If you have employees, dig into the type of leader you are and pay attention to how your staff receives your messages. For example, just because you have an autocratic leadership style doesn’t mean all your employees respond well to such rigid parameters. You might want to loosen the reins and let your team find their own creative solutions.
Take stock of how you feel in your business. Does it still bring you joy, or does it now feel stagnant? If it’s the latter, consider if there’s anything you can do to reignite the flame you once felt. It might be time to take on a second business endeavor.
Constantly ask yourself how you can bring more happiness to your work. That may be achieved by delegating tasks you despise, handing decisions over to others on your team, or simply taking a break to clear your head.
Becoming a Better Entrepreneur is an Ongoing Process
The best entrepreneurs are those who never rest on their laurels. They constantly question how they can be better and more fulfilled in their work, and they do whatever it takes to get there.