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14 Things Smart Business Owners Should Do Every Day

The same way a new puppy will change your daily routine, becoming a business owner will also change your daily regiment -- if you want to succeed. Below I've outlined 14 (plus one bonus) items that I try to do each and every day to improve my business skills and make my life a little easier.
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Every morning I'm awaken by a slobbery Yorkie tongue licking my face; after that, it doesn't get much better.

I stand in the freezing cold for 23 minutes while my puppy, Charlie, leaves his signature on seven different tree trunks followed by a rousing game of "I Wonder How Loud I Can Bark at The Cats To Get The Cops Called." It may not be the most pleasant routine to engage in each day, but it's the path I chose when I decided to get a puppy for Christmas.

The same way a new puppy will change your daily routine, becoming a business owner will also change your daily regiment -- if you want to succeed. Below I've outlined 14 (plus one bonus) items that I try to do each and every day to improve my business skills and make my life a little easier.

Whether you are just getting started or have been running a business for decades, it's my hope that these daily "to-do" tasks will help you find the success you are longing for. Let's get started:

1.) Review Your Big Goals

What is it that you are trying to achieve?

  • $10,000 per month in passive income?
  • To quit your other day job?
  • Sell your company for $50 million?
  • Retire at 50 years old?
  • Retire at 30 years old?

Like a GPS in your car dashboard guiding you toward your destination, write your big goals down and hang them on your wall so you'll be continually reminded of where you are headed and you'll be sure to stay on the right track.

2.) Define Your "Why"

Running a business is not easy, especially when you are in the midst of a stressful or confusing time. It's easy to get disheartened and forget why we are working so hard and why we have those big goals we defined above in #1. For example, I am a landlord and I'm going through an eviction right now with a rather nasty tenant who decided rent money would be better spent on marijuana. It's a bit stressful and extremely expensive and I can't help but think to myself, "Brandon... is it really worth it?"

You see, those big goals I have are bound to get diluted when emotion enters the picture and I forget why I have those goals. For example, if my goal is to make $10,000 per month in passive cash flow, that's great BUT I will care a whole lot less about that money when tough times come. However, if I focus on why I want $10,000 per month in cash flow (so I can spend my time with my family and I'll be able to watch my future kids grow up firsthand) there is little chance of that goal becoming diluted. So take a moment each and every day to "define your why."

3.) Review Your Action Steps

While big goals are great, it can also make you feel overwhelmed. If your goal is to sell your company for $50 million where do you even start?

Therefore, it's important to break those big goals down into actionable steps. Rather than focusing only on the $50 million future, work backwards and determine the steps needed to get there. How much revenue does your company need each month to be worth $50 million How many customers, paying what amount is that? How many employees will that take?

Reviewing those action plans will help you build a road map to where your big goals can be accomplished.

4.) Ask Yourself "Am I Moving the Needle?"

Take a moment each day to ask yourself, "is what I'm doing right now moving me toward my goal, or am I just doing busy work?" So much of what we do each day makes us feel productive, but fails to "move the needle" and make any dent in your true plans or goals.

I'm reminded of the famed "80/20 rule" postulated by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and recently popularized by Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Workweek, which states 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts. Are you working on the 20 percent, or are you keeping busy with the 80 percent?

For example, you may have a goal to sell 50 units this month, but are you spending all your time choosing the perfect logo for your website? Sending out 1,000 direct mail letters to potential leads may move the needle, but choosing red instead of blue is not going to do a thing for your business other than make you feel productive.

(P.S. If you wanna learn more about sending direct mail letters, don't miss The Ultimate Guide to Using Direct Mail Marketing.

5.) Do Some Business Math

Business math doesn't come naturally to most people, so I think it's important to spend a few minutes every day analyzing deals, profit margins, pricing strategies, and whatever other math your business may need.

No, this doesn't mean you need to sit down with a spreadsheet and calculator to discover every possible nook and cranny of a potential transaction. Instead, just learn to do quick math in your head. When you are driving to the grocery store and see a vacant building, ask yourself questions like "If I leased that property to open a second location, how much business would I need to generate to make it profitable" or "How much would it cost to fill that building with more machines and employees to generate more profits for my company?"

Obviously the kind of math you do will depend on the business you are in, but a good business owner seeks to continually improve their math skills, so take a moment each day to do so.

6.) Spend Time With Your Family

It's easy to get consumed with real estate and forget the ones that all of our efforts are for: our family. Be sure to carve out time every day, no matter how busy you think you are, to put down the cell phone, shut the laptop, and enjoy time with your family. No one ever says at the end of their life, "I wish I had spent more time working."

Don't worry, there will still be business deals when you get back.

7.) Network

Many people think of networking as a formal event where professionals in oversized suits exchange business cards, but this is just one manifestation of it. In reality:

Networking is not an event, it's a lifestyle.

This doesn't mean being obnoxious and passing out your business card to every stranger you lock eyes with, but allow your passion for your business to shine forth in your conversations. The most popular question in most conversations tends to be "so, what do you do for a living?" Use this moment to shine! You never know when you are going to find your next client, lender, partner, seller, supplier, or whoever else you need to take your business to the next level.

Make networking a lifestyle and do it every day!

8.) Learn One New Thing

"They" say you learn one new thing every day. (I don't know who "they" refers to, but "they" say a lot of stuff.)

However, I want to take that common saying to a whole new level and encourage you to learn one new thing about business every day. There are a lot of easy ways to do this, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Podcasts
  • Forums
  • Blog Posts
  • Talking with other business owners
  • Books

The point is, spend a few minutes each day learning new tricks and strategies and watch your business grow.

9.) Diet and Exercise

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen a hearse followed by a U-haul? Probably not -- because the truth is: When you die, you can't take it with you.

Wealth and financial freedom may be fun, but it's temporary. Selling your business for $50 million does you no good if you are dead.

Therefore, I've included "diet and exercise" on this list because it makes the other items possible by extending your life and helping you live a more fulfilled existence.

People spend thousands of dollars on courses, programs, and classes to help them make more money, but freak out over spending an extra $50 eating organic or $30 for a gym membership. Something is clearly wrong here. So, take at least 20 minutes every single day to get your heart pumping and watch what you eat or you might not be here in 20 years to enjoy the financial future you are working so hard to build.

That said... I'm starting P90x3 this week. Who's with me?

10.) Help Someone Else

There are a lot of people out there trapped in a life of mundane, 9-to-5 monotony -- and you hold the key to escape. Why not spend a minute or two helping others get on the same path you are?

There are a lot of ways you can do this, like going out to lunch with a newbie, attending local networking events, writing a blog post, or hanging out in an online forum that revolves around your niche.

Keep in mind, you do not need to be an expert to help others. Even if you are just starting out, you can always help others by teaching what you've learned so far, sharing your experiences, or simply pointing them to the educational sources that you've found helpful in your life.

As an added benefit, not only does teaching someone else benefit them, it also benefits YOU. Teaching is perhaps the greatest way to cement a new topic into your head.

11.) Evaluate Your Systems

Perhaps the most important thing I've learned from being a host on popular BiggerPockets Podcast is the necessity of systems in business. (After all, nearly every guest has mentioned this aspect as key to their success.)

A system is a process or order to the tasks in your business that help you maintain stability and control through a variety of changing circumstances. For example, in my business, having a step by step guide for screening tenants that I follow for every tenant helps to take the guesswork out of running my business. (In case you are interested in that, I wrote up every single detail of my tenant screening system here for you to use or adopt!)

When just starting out, having well-oiled systems may not seem important, but it's those very systems which allow you to scale your business without losing your mind. By creating those systems you are able to eventually hand those systems off to other people so you can focus on the activities that only you can do that move the needle for your business. So take a few minutes every day to evaluate your systems and find ways to improve them.

For two excellent books on this subject, see:

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter

Ultimately, the point is: Spend time each day to work ON your business, not just in it. Systems are how you do this.

12.) Read Something Motivational

I find it helpful to spend a few moments each day reading something motivational. As Zig Ziglar says, "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily." It doesn't need to be long, but reading a quick article from Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Zig Ziglar can get you pumped and motivated for the work you have to do.

13.) Plan Your Tomorrow

One of the last things you should be doing each night before heading to sleep is to plan your tomorrow. By taking five minutes to write down the items you want to accomplish tomorrow, you will actually do two amazing things:

  1. Empty your mind so you'll sleep more stress-free
  2. Be able to start working on the most important thing right away in the morning.

Most people wake up, lazily get ready, then spend a while trying to figure out what to do first. By writing down your to-do list the night before, you'll be able to jump right into your tasks immediately and get far more accomplished than others.

14.) Relax

Finally, after all these things you "should do each day" I want to give you the easiest one: take a few minutes every day to relax and have fun. Do something completely unrelated to your business. Watch an episode of Law and Order. Read a bit Game of Thrones. Take a walk around your neighborhood.

By relaxing from "work" you'll be able to focus more intently when you are working and grow your business even stronger.

BONUS: #15.) Help Me Out

Finally (and this is 99 percent self-serving), I hope you'll do me the honor of leaving me a comment below and sharing this post on your Facebook, Twitter, G+, or print it out and bring it to your momma (she works so hard!) Let me know which item on this list rings most true for you -- OR let me know if I forgot something!

Thank you for reading -- now go out and get started on your daily to-do list!

I need to go walk my dog...

This post is Copyright © 2014 BiggerPockets, Inc. and was modified from our original post 14 Things Every Real Estate Investor Should Do Every Single Day