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5 Great Habits to Grow Your Business

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I was flying high! I had just spoken at an event in Hoboken, New Jersey. Home of Frank Sinatra and the first officially recorded game of baseball. Not to mention more bars in 2.01 square miles than probably anywhere.

The room where the event was held could not have been better. Right on the water, facing the New York City skyline, sun glaring in on a picture perfect Friday morning as runners went by before taking on their morning commute.

Business people up bright and early for a meeting chatting away and the smell of coffee in the air.

(Related: 3 Ways to Use a New LinkedIn Business Networking Survey)

After the meeting, I was driving out of Hoboken heading to, well, another meeting. Still flying high, I took in the moment as I slowed and stopped at what seemed like every street corner.

At one of those street corners I was stopped at a light and noticed a man walking on the sidewalk to my right. He was probably in his early fifties and really fit. His arms, chest, and neck were just chiseled. The sun seemed to reflect off his muscles, which is why he caught my eye. He was wearing an untucked button down shirt with no sleeves, shorts, sneakers, and a backpack over his shoulder. He didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry to get anywhere. The man could have been a local probably running an errand or out for his morning coffee. Or coming from the gym.

Stopped at my red light, I found myself staring at this guy for the duration of the stop. I’m not sure why. If I had been walking by him on that sidewalk, I would have smiled and said good morning to him. I know he would have responded back with a smile. He had that kind of face. A nice face. A nice smile. Probably a nice conversation.

But, idle at that red light, I just stared.

I imagined what his life might be like. What he did for work. How long he lived in town. Was he born here? Is this part of his daily routine? Is he a nice guy? Why does he look so good? What does he do every day to keep himself in great shape? Is he happy?

As I stared, I was probably smiling the whole time.

Then he stopped walking. And put his backpack down. Then reached into his pocket and out came a pack of cigarettes. As smooth as silk he lit the cigarette, took a puff, slipped into his backpack, and continued on his way. Like he has probably done a million times.

The light turned green and I was out of Hoboken. And I shook my head.

How many people do you know that have so much to offer but bad habits prevent them from being their best? I can’t tell you how many sales professionals I see that look so good, come across so well, work for such great companies, and yet don’t do what it takes to run a healthy business.

What holds you back?

I see it all the time with sales producers in broker dealers, insurance companies, private equity firms, real estate offices, and sales teams from a variety of industries. What’s even worse is when the boss has bad habits. That tells the sales team that it’s acceptable to behave in a certain way.

Anyway, here are five great habits to pick up if you’re serious about growing your business!

  1. Get there early.

Being early never leaves a bad impression. It gives you time to calm your nerves, have a sip of coffee, check email, and review any last minute notes before your meeting. I’ve recently picked up the habit of getting to meetings at least 15 minutes early. And it’s changed everything. How I think, act, and focus on pretty much everything. In fact, it’s helped me change how I schedule my day and taught me how to better manage my calendar. People that are early usually leave the impression that they’re on their game when it comes to time management, quality of life, and getting things done. What kind of impression do you want to leave?

  1. Get into a daily routine that works.

I find the most successful business owners and sales people have a daily routine focused on Revenue Producing Activities (RPA). When you get started in the morning, give yourself 15 minutes to handle email and set up your agenda for the day. Schedule your next hour or 90 minutes on RPA. That means for RPA time, you only handle emails that might produce business. Handle your LinkedIn work. Contact prospects. Clients. Referral partners. And this should all be planned, organized, and scheduled. These are some questions you might want to be asking yourself during RPA time. Who are the 5 most important people I should be connecting with today? And why? What are the 5 most important companies I should be researching today? And why? What are the 5 most important Revenue Producing Activities I should be working on today?

  1. Be prepared.

Do your homework before you meet with someone whether it’s over the phone or in person. Again, being prepared never leaves a bad impression. There’s really no excuse. LinkedIn makes doing your homework easy. My favorite way for preparing for a face-to-face meeting is to look up those I’m meeting with on LinkedIn, their own website, company profile, or wherever. Then I print the pages and make notes right on those printed pages. I write questions I want to ask. I underline, draw circles, make asterisks, and really mark up the profile pages. And bring those pages to the meeting. Now I’m prepared for the meeting and will, no doubt, leave an impression. Remember, the purpose of most meetings, if you’re in sales, is to learn and potentially help. Be prepared to do both.

  1. Have an agenda for meetings.

Hopefully, as you’re scheduling a meeting, the purpose for all parties is clear. If not, why are you having the meeting? Be clear that all business meetings should be mutually beneficial. You’re helping one another network. You’re selling a product or service. You’re buying a product or service. You’re hiring or being hired. Or interviewed. It’s purely social! There’s a partnership being discussed. Well, that’s about it. Whatever the purpose is, be clear. I often speak about my PUNCH card. (Of course as a boxer, I must have an acronym that spells out PUNCH.) At meetings, I often highlight this outline and use it to help keep us on track as appropriate. PUNCH stands for Purpose as in the purpose of the meeting. Understanding of target markets. Networks and shared networking experiences, organizations, and initiatives. Call to action and what we both want. And How to develop our relationship and stay in touch. See how this model fits your agenda!

  1. Be mindful of time.

As you’re scheduling meetings, be clear on start times and end times. In fact, once you get settled for your meeting, whether it’s on the phone or live and in person, be clear on how much time the meeting could take and ask if the timing still works. Show that you’re considerate, thoughtful, and respectful of the time. Then you can offer your agenda (as discussed earlier) and ask if there is anything else that should be added. Take notes as appropriate and truly be present when you’re playing the role of the listener. Sometimes it’s difficult. But stay in the game. Often, the more you listen the more you’re listened to. That has the makings of a good conversation and a great use of time!

Focus on developing these Great Habits while dropping a few bad ones. You’ll feel better almost immediately!

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Michael Goldberg (Photo: MG)

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, consultant, and the founder of Knock Out Networking. He’s also the author of “Knock-Out Networking!”