More often than not, being an entrepreneur is extremely demanding. You are in charge of choosing the direction your business takes, you frequently have to take risky decisions, and ultimately you are the one who is responsible for generating success from your endeavors.
Younger small-business owners often begin life with relatively little knowledge, fewer contacts, and even less resources, and yet there are some entrepreneurs who can generate the kind of results in only a short period of time that it might take others decades to realize.
What exactly are these select few doing differently from the rest of the entrepreneurs out there? What tasks are they performing on a daily basis, without fail, that eventually help them to stand out from the crowd?
Here we highlight some of the more interesting habits that successful entrepreneurs practice and wholeheartedly endorse.
Shake yourself into action with a fluctuating hot and cold shower
When you put the shower on in the morning, spring into life as quickly as possible with a hot-cold shower. For half a minute, stand under ice cold water, then change the temperature to hot for another half minute, and then follow this up with cold again. This will bounce your mind and body into an alert state immediately.
Perhaps to begin with, start the shower under normal temperature for a minute or two. Then begin the temperature fluctuations, alternating every 30 seconds or 1 minute or so.
Phil Dumontet, founder of Dashed, swears by this habit, “I’ve done it every morning, no matter where I’ve lived or what hotel I’m staying in, for 14 years”. Once you set your goal, it can become a habit if you pursue it for approximately 21 days.
Make several ‘to do’ lists at the start of the working day
As soon as you get to the office in the morning, take an hour to create lists for everything you have to complete during the day. This will allow you to mentally walk through your working schedule, and it will provide you with visual images of how certain tasks should ideally be carried out. Thus, you will have more chance to execute your plans as close as possible to how you have imagined. Notes on the iPad and Gmail tasks are both highly suitable to make ‘to do’ lists.
Jonathan Nostrant, founder of Ivee, creates lists for every imaginable task, “It forces me to think through my day, my week, my year, and my long term plan before beginning to execute”.
Devise a stringent schedule and stick to it
Make it a specific goal to establish a consistent schedule, one which allows you to get the most amount of work done every week. For example, apportion a continuous block of time during the day for an uninterrupted session for work, lets say for 3 hours in the evening after dinner, if you are not ‘a morning person’. Ensure that this 3-hour work session is among your highest daily priorities and don’t allow other tasks or potential distractions to come between you and this work session.
Doing this consistently will allow you to unleash your creative juices every single day. As a result, you can sleep well knowing that you are achieving your productive potential every single day for at least one set period of time.
Rameet Chawla, founder of Fueled, believes that, “Setting aside a block of time in my schedule for uninterrupted productive creation is vital to my work process”, and attributes this period as the time when he thinks about his biggest ideas.
Establish an achievable number of clear goals on a weekly basis
You can’t attempt to improve every facet of your business at once. It is important to be realistic about your available resources and limitations – if you end up spreading yourself too thinly, you might end up making little headway in any one specific task.
Stay focused on following the 3 or 4 goals you have set yourself. By questioning yourself regularly and by checking whether the tasks you are executing are actively contributing to achieving those goals, you won’t get distracted by irrelevant tasks, and ultimately, you will accomplish bigger challenges instantaneously.
Patrick Ambron, co-founder of BrandYourself, believes in the benefits of having weekly Friday meetings. Staff can then reflect on the week and see how much progress they have made, while also setting goals for the following week. According to Patrick, having the meetings on a weekly basis makes tracking progress more manageable “It’s a lot easier to say ‘what went wrong this week’ then ‘what went wrong this quarter’”.
Approach problems from several different angles
In an attempt to solve challenges that don’t have immediate or obvious solutions, it is highly desirable to ask open questions, ones that might persist for months, or even years. Often, the most innovative technological advancements have come about as a result of addressing specific open questions. An example of such a question might be how to sell your product to the risk-averse demographic, or how do you make your business appeal to a specific age group, or gender. This might require you to prove your worth initially before the specific subgroup warms to your appeal.
Danielle Fong, co-founder of LightSail Energy tries to cast her net as wide as possible when approaching such open questions. She examines the extremes of a situation, tries to test the assumptions upon which the idea is based and thinks about all the different industries that could potentially get involved to solve the problem. According Danielle, “I find some real traction with an idea that seems novel and has a good chance of working”.
Think about the future you are creating at the end of every working day
After work is finished for the day, or perhaps just before going to bed, ask yourself what kind of future is being created by the work you are doing. This will help focus your mind on what is important in your business, and will align your priorities with the actions you are taking. Think about the steps you can take in your life now and the objectives you want to follow.
Jesse Lear, co-founder of VIP Waste Services, asks himself every night, “If I live every day the same way I did today, what kind of future would that create?” By doing so, he is shaping his future one day at a time. Build your future, don’t sit around and wait for the spark, make the fire.
Regularly go for a trek / hike
Go for a long trek or hike to a destination that you have not yet discovered every weekend (or if this is not feasible, then once or twice a month at the very least). Furthermore, make sure that your chosen destination is far from your normal work surroundings, so that it may require a couple of hours of driving to get there.
As a form of meditation of sorts, trekking in a wholly new environment will help to relax you, while also allowing you to calmly dissect the previous week or month’s main work discussion points. It will provide some perspective, you will be able to reflect on many of the ideas while being in an imaginative state and you can then decide how to fit your new ideas into your business to make them a reality.
Ryan Kania, founder of Advocates For World Health, goes hiking every weekend for this purpose, and his hikes are “anywhere between one and four hours long”.
By getting into the right habits, you will be giving yourself every chance of success as an entrepreneur. Indeed, research from Duke University has found that our habits trigger 40% of our behaviors to occur automatically. Therefore, if you decide upon forming the right habits, you will have made your day substantially more productive, which ultimately gives you a far greater chance of success. Persevere and make your goals a reality.