One of the best things about being a small business owner is that you are your own boss. You’re independent. You’re agile. You’re able to respond to ideas quickly. You can decide which opportunities to seize. And which ones to pass up.

There are many amazing and rewarding aspects to running a small business, but it is also hard work. There are countless tasks you need to complete every week just to stay on top of things. You have so many varying roles within your business that it can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to be clear on priorities. It’s all too easy to get distracted by ‘emergencies’ that make you lose sight of what you really should be working on, in order to achieve your goals.

That’s assuming you know what your goals are. You wouldn’t be alone if you hadn’t got round to defining them yet. Many small businesses admit to not knowing what numbers they’re aiming for. However if you stop to think about it, not having goals is business sabotage! If you don’t know what you are aiming for, how can you possibly hope to get there? And if you don’t get there, then your business stands still and your sales growth stagnates.

If you’re ambitious to grow your business, it’s vitally important to set your goals, write them down, and regularly look at them. Keeping your goals in mind will result in you naturally directing your energies along paths that will take you closer to them, almost subconsciously. You’ll find yourself spotting, and making the most of opportunities you may have otherwise missed, which contributes to your on-going progress, and your future success. If you need further help with goals and planning, see my blog on the secret to getting what you want in 2015.

Assuming you do know your goals for this year, then you’re ready for the daily 3 minute habit that will transform your business, and your life!

I came across it in a book, ‘How to save an hour every day’ by Michael Heppell. He recounted a story from the turn of the last century about a young man who approached the steel magnate and richest man on earth at the time, Charles M. Schwab, with an idea. The young man said ‘I have an idea which I believe will save hours of your valuable time every day, and I believe my idea is so good that I am going to give it to you. All I ask is that you use it for one month then pay me whatever you think it is worth’. Charles Schwab took up the offer and at the end of the month paid the young man $100,000 (which in today’s money would have been around $12,000,000!)

So what was this $12,000,000 idea?

At the end of each day write down the five most important things to do tomorrow. And do them!

This might seem ridiculously simple, but if you consider it properly, you’ll realise it is extremely effective.

I have been personally using this technique for the last month and can honestly say it has transformed my work productivity, and the quality of my personal time too. I feel calmer, more in control of my time, and more fulfilled knowing that I am getting the right stuff done – that I am focussing on the things that are truly important to me, and in line with my business and life goals. Of course, I still have days when things don’t go according to plan, but they are less frequent, and I am quicker to get back on track after them. I hope that after a few more months of practising this technique I will be able to report back massive shifts in my business growth too. So far the early signs are good!

So what’s the best way to incorporate this business transforming idea into your life?

Firstly, it’s important to spend the 3 minutes deciding what your most important actions are for the next day, at the end of the day (literally just before you go to bed!). It’s also vital to realise that this is not just a ‘to-do’ list. The items that make your ‘top five’ must be aligned with your overall business and life goals – they must be actions that will in some way take you closer to where you want to be. They are ‘must dos’ rather than ‘to dos’, and most certainly should include personal priorities as well as business ones.

Writing your ‘top five’ list at the end of EVERY day is a powerful tool for you because:

  • It is a manageable sized task that is easy to do every night, and easy to turn into a new habit
  • It harnesses the incredible power of your subconscious brain while you sleep, which helps you tackle your items more successfully the following day
  • It forces you to prioritise – you are only allowed the ‘FIVE most important things for tomorrow’ on your list
  • By capturing your ‘top five’ in writing (or on your device) you will easily remember what you have committed to do, and are therefore more likely to do it
  • It saves you time in the morning, as you already know what your most important actions are for the day, so can get stuck straight in (before getting distracted by emails and social media!)
  • It allows you roll-overs! Even if you have had a super busy day and only managed to complete three of your most important things, you will have achieved more than most people do in a day. Any items you don’t complete can form the start of tomorrow’s list!

However, my biggest motivation to stick with the ‘top five’ daily habit is the incredible power of the compound effect of doing my ‘top five’ most important things EVERY day of my life. It’s extremely valuable to consciously decide where to place my focus every day, and is enabling me to live more purposefully so that my achievements are more by design than by accident.

Can you imagine where you could be at the end of this year if you started your ‘top five’ today?

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If you’re a small business owner looking for help to achieve your goals and grow your sales through effective marketing, please get in touch.