5 Habits That Grew My Business the Most

02/16/2016 12:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2016-02-15-1455559792-7317104-bridge192986FrankWInkler.jpg

I've been running my own business now for just over two years. During this time, I've learned so much about my own strengths and weaknesses, the importance of doing work that matters to me, and how much psychology affects success.

Recently, I crossed a major business milestone of earning more from self-employment than I did when I worked as a corporate brand marketer at a Fortune 500 company. I wanted to share the 5 habits I adopted last year that had the greatest impact on my business growth, which I hope will be a helpful point of reference for you in your own career endeavors.

1) I Did My 20-Mile March Every Single Day

I've found the separator between success and failure isn't luck or a good idea, but instead, hustle, resilience, and hard work. I have worked harder during the past two years on this business than any other part of my professional career. I committed to taking small, consistent, manageable steps toward my career goals every single day. For example, reconnecting with at least one client, developing a piece of content, or investing in personal brand building. To give it 100% each day. Not 110%, not 90%, but 100%. Jim Collins eloquently explains this concept called the "20 Mile March" in his book Great By Choice.

2) I Found Regular Sources of Inspiration

Having a steady stream of inspiration keeps me energized, educated, focused, and on track. When you run your own business or pursue a non-traditional career path, the journey can feel incredibly lonely. There aren't always precedents to guide you. Inspiration has been my mental fuel that keeps me going during times of uncertainty. A few weekly podcasts have created this fuel for me. Scott Britton's Competitive Edge, Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income, and others have been so useful in both grounding and inspiring me.

3) I Said "No" to Opportunities

Saying no to an engagement is rarely intuitive. It means saying no to clients. It means saying no to income. It sometimes means discontinuing work with clients you've enjoyed serving. But saying no is necessary to make room for growth. This year, I started saying no more often. I turned away new opportunities. I turned down speaking gigs. I turned down partnerships. Saying no allowed me to protect time and space needed to do work that generated the greatest value for me, my clients, and the world.

4) I Forced Myself to Start Somewhere

I erred on the side of action, even if I didn't have everything 100% planned out, or if I didn't know exactly how things would turn out. I just decided to go for it. Sometimes, things completely flopped. For example, my first Periscope broadcast was a complete dud. I think two people showed up. But I still went for it. People often tell me they don't know exactly where to start with their next career move. Honestly, starting is the hardest part. Sometimes, you just have to take your best guess and start somewhere, knowing that you can and will adjust course along the way.

5) I Hired People to Help Me

I was initially very reluctant to bring people on board to help me grow my business. I didn't know where to find help. I didn't make time to find help. I didn't want to spend extra money. Also, I was nervous about "entrusting" others with a part of my business. But I realized I just couldn't do everything on my own. So I began delegating. In the past six months alone, I hired a freelance designer, web developer, animator, photographer, content writer, virtual assistant, Photoshop editor, coder, document designer, musician, sound engineer, presentation guru, and illustrator. Delegating allowed me to focus on critical activities where I could uniquely deliver the most impact.

How to Accelerate Toward Your Goals

Regardless of whether you're striving to achieve a goal in your business, career, or life, the choices you make will have a direct impact on your ability to achieve those goals. Success doesn't come down to fate. It comes down to making tough choices and working hard to make the most of those choices.

We're all faced with moments of uncertainty, moment of doubt, times when we wish we could achieve more. I believe answering these questions, then acting on them will allow you to build necessary discipline into each day to help you steadily move closer toward achieving your most ambitious goals:

  1. What will be your 20 Mile March in the upcoming year?
  2. Where will you get your regular dose of inspiration?
  3. Which low value, time consuming activity will you let go of in the weeks ahead?
  4. What small step will you take right now to move one of your ideas forward?
  5. Which time-consuming activity outside your core expertise will you outsource?

Create a Plan to Achieve Your Goals

If you want to reflect on your own goals and actions required to achieve them, you can download this free worksheet with a simple exercise to help you create a concrete plan to achieve your next career milestone.

Follow Joseph Liu: Twitter | FacebookLinkedInYouTube | Google+