The Daily Habits That Drive Your Business Growth

Donald Miller

Published: Apr 19, 2024

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Making your business work is less about big wins and lucky streaks than you might think. The truth is, most successful companies get to where they are by doing the right things every day. These right things are called "critical actions." They are the most important tasks that need to be done every day to help your business grow. You can think of them like the fuel that keeps your business engine purring.

Critical actions are the habits and practices that, when consistently applied, move your business towards its financial and strategic targets. Plus, they help you establish a brand that stands for reliability, excellence, and customer-centricity. 

Keep in mind, they’re not about making huge changes all at once. Instead, it's the little things done without fail that make a big difference over time. Whether it's making sure your customers are happy, selling more products, or keeping your workspace organized, each action is a deliberate attempt to progress towards your top economic priorities.

What are critical actions?

Critical actions are specific tasks that everyone in your business can do to help achieve your main objectives. They’re straightforward but impactful, transforming big goals into manageable tasks. Whether you're working solo or with a team, identifying these actions is your key to growth. But it requires a solid understanding of your business’s unique needs and goals, as well as the discipline to maintain these practices over the long haul. 

We recommend pinpointing at least 3 critical actions you and your team can reliably complete every day. 

For example, if you run a restaurant, one of your critical actions might include always asking customers if they'd like to try your special dessert. This not only helps sell more desserts, but it also introduces customers to the full range of your menu. 

Your second critical action might be cleaning the kitchen work stations every hour. This action helps you maintain an immaculate kitchen area, which reflects your commitment to quality and hygiene.

A third critical might be leaving a personalized thank you note along with the check. This demonstrates that your team is actively listening to your customers and going the extra mile to ensure their dining experience is memorable. These daily efforts play a big role in customer satisfaction, leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth, which are invaluable for your restaurant's reputation and growth.

Critical actions might seem simple, but they make customers happy, increase sales, and build a strong reputation for your business. All of that adds up (and pays off) over time.

Putting critical actions into practice

To make critical actions work, you need to turn them into regular habits. This means doing them every day until they become a natural part of your business routine. If they’re only done some of the time by some of the people, they aren’t critical actions. They need to become second nature to the team.

For critical actions to take root, they must be specific, achievable, and directly tied to the business's goals. It's okay if some actions don't work out at first. The process might involve trial and error, as not all actions will get the expected results immediately. The key is to keep trying different actions until you find the ones that really help your business grow. Retain the ones that contribute to the business's objectives and revise or replace those that don't.

Critical actions should be:

  • Easy for everyone in your business to do.
  • Clearly linked to increased sales, customer satisfaction, or making your business run more efficiently.
  • Evaluated regularly to make sure they're helping you reach your goals.

Let’s look at another example. Say you own a small online retail business: 

One critical action could be to respond to all customer inquiries within 24 hours. Why? Because this quick response moves your retail store closer to its goal of enhancing customer satisfaction. It also ups the likelihood of repeat purchases and positive reviews. 

Another critical action might be to analyze sales data every week to identify trends and adjust inventory. If your store has a goal of optimizing inventory management and increasing sales efficiency, this repeated action would help you do that by capitalizing on popular products and reducing waste from unsold items.

A third action might be to dedicate 30 minutes each day to social media engagement. This action moves you closer toward your goal of attracting new leads through social media. By consistently posting content, responding to comments, and interacting with the community, the business can attract new customers and retain existing ones. 

By making these 3 tasks mandatory priorities for the team, your retail store is pretty much guaranteed to make great progress on its goals. 

Fostering a culture of action

Beyond their direct impact on the business's bottom line, critical actions help shape your company’s culture, creating a positive and focused workplace environment. When every team member is working towards a common goal, it builds a sense of unity and purpose. This alignment is powerful for small businesses, where resources are often limited and the contribution of every person matters tremendously. 

Leaders play a big role in this. They need to clearly explain the critical actions, explain how they help the business, and recognize and celebrate the results these actions yield. This kind of leadership makes sure every employee successfully adopts the actions and helps build a resilient and motivated team. 

If leaders aren’t able to set clear expectations and give the team the necessary resources and support—you’ll struggle to get the team on board and the critical actions will fail. So make sure your leaders are equipped to roll out these initiatives to the team. 

If you’re trying to grow your small business, finding and using critical actions is a powerful way to move forward. These actions are the steps that, when taken every day, can help your business rise to the top and beat your competition. By choosing the right actions, making them a part of your daily routine, and building a team culture around them, you will drive your business toward long-term growth and success.

Ready to start implementing critical actions in your business? Download Business Made Simple's free Guiding Principles Worksheets below to get a customizable playbook to help you create a mission statement and identify your 3 critical actions.