Managing the daily grind of a small business while remembering to keep an eye on the big picture is a challenge for any entrepreneur. Experts say that's why it's important to establish daily rituals -- something you decide to do every single day that will move the business closer to your ultimate vision.
"By having a specific ritual that's in line with your long-term goals, you're much productive," said Laura Waage, founder of Morphos Business Solutions, a Marietta, Ga.-based small business consulting firm. "A lot of entrepreneurs say they check voicemail and e-mail first thing in the morning, but it doesn't necessarily take them closer to their goals."
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To create the most effective daily ritual, consider what will truly improve your business. "For some companies it may be a sales goal, so the ritual may be based more around the number of prospecting or follow-up calls they'll make every day," Waage said. Whatever you decide, be specific, write it down, and schedule it. You have to be clear about what you want to achieve.
Need more guidance? Consider the daily rituals that are driving the success of these three entrepreneurs.
Daily Ritual: Spread one snippet of success
Although Matt Lauzon just launched his company in February, he already has 40 employees. One of his goals: never be too far removed from his team.
"Even though I can't interact with everybody as much as I used to, I always want to give them a snippet of what's in my mind and what I'm excited about," said Lauzon, founder of Gemvara, an online custom design jewelry startup backed by $12 million in venture capital.
Whether it's through Twitter or an internal e-mail to all employees, Lauzon makes a point of sharing at least one of the company's successes every day. "Most of our employees, go on my twitter page and read it several times a day, so it's been an unbelievable way to generate momentum," said Lauzon, 25. The positive blasts range from record-setting sales to new hires to inspirational customer stories.
How it helps: "It keeps our employees motivated, even in the face of challenges and crazy hours we're working; they feel like they're part of something big. The buzz also attracts new employees and increases exposure in the investment community."
Daily Ritual: Walk through the parking lot
When Jeff Brown drives into work every morning, he always parks in the last spot, the one farthest away from the office. But it's not to squeeze in exercise.
"It forces me to walk by every single employee's car and reminds me every day that our company is about creating a rewarding culture and environment for the employees that drive our business," said Brown, the 46-year-old founder of Blue Cod Technologies, which has 230 employees and revenue topping $20 million.
"During the day, I face [all sorts of] challenges and it's easy to lose focus on what's important." But Brown says this simple daily ritual always brings it back.
How it helps: "That morning walk through the parking lot guides my daily business decisions and keeps me true to our belief that people and relationships come first, above all else. Hiring and retaining great people creates more loyal customers and that's what has made us prosper, regardless of the market environment."
Daily Ritual: Stand-Up Meetings
Entrepreneur Zach Kaplan is always looking for ways to improve the functionality of his company Web site, which sells small quantities of materials to research and development firms.
About two and a half years ago, he started the ritual of daily stand-up meetings, where everyone literally stands and "shares the most important thing they did yesterday and the one thing they're going to accomplish today," said Kaplan, founder of six-employee Inventables, a venture-backed company.
The idea is to break down a project -- or in this case, software development -- into manageable pieces that take a day or less to finish.
"Everyone also has an opportunity to chime in if there's ambiguity or they can help," he said. "The whole meeting takes about 10 minutes." Kaplan, 36, says the stand-up meetings are part of the Agile software development philosophy, which he read about and quickly implemented to ramp up the pace of company projects.
Why he does it: "By breaking down a project into bite-sized chunks, there's a sense of accomplishment every single day. It's a way to help focus and it builds momentum."
Do you have a daily ritual that drives your business? Be sure to share it in the comments section.