Just about every professional is guilty of allowing habits to become ingrained because they work. While this is sometimes the best way to be productive, in some situations ingrained habits cause stagnation that can prevent a business from innovating.
It’s good practice for every entrepreneur to not allow themselves to get too comfortable with the work they’re doing. Below, ten members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their top tips to help entrepreneurs break out of a comfortable position.
1. Don’t expect your results to be different.
I am a big believer in the thought that if you are currently in a career or professional opportunity that looks and feels like most of your peers, you should not have the expectation that your results will be much different. Those that accept fewer guarantees typically have significantly more upside! – Andrew Platt, Northwestern Mutual (Dayton)
2. Make sure that change is your constant.
Make sure that change is your constant. It has to be a part of your culture because the comfort zone is the worst place to be in, both professionally and personally. That said, change should not be a major disruption to your processes every single time. The best changes are gradual, so it’s important to find balance between innovation and stability to ensure sustainable growth. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
3. Do something outside of your normal.
Entrepreneurs tend to rely on habits to help move the company forward. However, this approach can restrict their gifts of thought generation and creativity. To keep the right side of the brain nimble, I suggest they do something outside of their normal. Try a new physical activity, attend a learning retreat or simply spend time alone in a coffee shop listening to the buzz of others’ conversations. – Teresa J.W. Bailey, Waddell & Associates
4. Let competition keep you on your toes.
Your competition can keep you on your toes! If you know your competition, you can innovate to offer different or variable alternatives. I always like giving my clients options on how to solve their problems. – Corine Prieto, VIDL Network
5. Schedule innovation and creative time.
Schedule innovation time. Block off creative time on your calendar so that you can focus on your business. Your entrepreneurial mind is a superpower and it deserves its own regularly scheduled calendar appointment. Remember, what gets scheduled gets done. – Jason Hennessey, Hennessey Digital
6. Bring in an outside perspective.
Whether it is a new hire or a coach, having someone who hasn’t been doing it the same way for all this time will provide a new lens on the situation. Also, as an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to spend time at the 30,000-foot level of your business so you can see what is out there that requires leaving your comfort zone. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting
7. Manage performance with metrics.
Identify three to five indicators for your organization and consistently measure your progress throughout the year. Use this data to make improvements or to pivot when necessary. Allow the metrics to drive you and be the canary in the stagnation coal mine that lets you know when your processes have outgrown their effectiveness. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting
8. Focus on execution management.
Quality goal setting and execution management prevent stagnation. For example, we utilize the Traction EOS management system, which includes an annual goal-setting session. We imagine our business five years from now and then clarify what must happen this year to achieve that vision. We then use EOS to execute weekly. Nearly any elephant becomes easy to eat utilizing this process! – Jason Dunn, DACS Corp
9. Interact with other companies, CEOs.
It’s important for entrepreneurs to get out and interact with other companies and CEOs or through thought leadership conferences so they don’t get stuck in their views or habits. Then, seeing what others are doing with their companies or general world trends that will naturally push you to evolve your business, practices and any personal habits. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
10. Envision what you want in three years.
Envision what you want your business to look like in three years. Be specific on the “what” it looks like. Break that into three operating plans. Identify the gap in the year one plan from where you are today to where you need to be in a year. Break that down further to specific behaviors that need to change and focus on one behavior. It takes 21 days to form a habit. Then, go to the next one and so on. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates