I don’t think there is a best entrepreneur’s morning routine. In fact, I think entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities, religions, and political beliefs. I think that most entrepreneurs fall into one of two general categories, and this is based on my experience of running young companies, buying startups, coaching entrepreneurs, and investing in startups.
Different Types of Entrepreneurs
Let’s call the first group, “the anarchists” or the “free spirits”. This person has some degree of technical expertise, and can even be the technical guru. They sometimes have good business understanding, but may need guidance. They are typically unconventional, hate authority, and are visionary.
The second group is sometimes called “the adult supervision”. They are somewhat conventional, and are the combination of an enlightened dictator and a diplomat. The enlightenment comes from listening to the team, and the dictatorship comes from making decision and driving them throughout the organization. The diplomat comes from the mediation of disputed between people and groups in the organization. People in the group selectively apply processes to the business in an effort to make things more efficient, while not adding unnecessary bureaucracy or red tape. They are typically not the technical guru or idea person, but they have the capability to translate technical things in a way that lay people can understand, and that customers can understand in their own language. These people are usually customer and market focused versus technology driven.
What Do Entrepreneurs Have in Common
Both types of entrepreneurs want to solve big problems, but are driven by different motivations. The first group typically wants to change the world. The second group usually wants to create a successful and sustainable business that becomes a great company. While the first group is focused on the technical vision, the second group is focused on making that vision into a reality through stellar execution and customer focus.
Nearly all entrepreneurs are passionate, driven, extremely competitive, and seem to have boundless energy and enthusiasm. As I look at great companies, they almost always have both types of entrepreneurs.
Thinking about things in this way, I would say there are two “typical” morning routines that I’ve seen be successful. You can likely judge which type of person practices which routine.
A First Possible Morning Routine
It may not be early in the morning when the entrepreneur wakes up, but it is usually no later than mid-morning. The entrepreneur may be up early in the morning, but that is only the case if they have pulled an “all-nighter” working on a difficult problem. If this entrepreneur successfully makes the transition to growing a bigger company, they will eventually conform to having a more conventional morning routine, or stepping aside and not being the leader of the organization.
When these people start their day, they usually:
- Exercise sometime during the day or night, but not necessarily in the morning. It could be playing soccer, volleyball, going to the gym, going on a hike, surfing, lifting weights at midnight, or anything else that suites their fancy.
- Connect with key people in their inner circle
- Focus on getting the “Right People on the Bus”. It is very important to them to get the right team at the company. Other than technology vision, it is the primary strategic activity for them.
- They are constantly working on solving problems, many of which can result in new ideas that can be new products or whole new companies.
An Alternative and More Conventional Morning Routine
These types take a more systematic approach, but despise the process and bureaucracy of big companies. In order to grow the company into a large enterprise they will need to adapt or step aside at some point.
- Clear E-mail
- Prioritize critical incoming activities from customers, employees, suppliers, partners, and other critical constituencies like investors and board members
- Deal with urgent activities immediately
- Sync incoming activities with currently calendared items and prioritize
- Plan the day
- Prioritize the big stuff, including strategic activities like hiring
- Make contact with key constituencies
- Workout at least three times per week
- Eat breakfast
- Set a weekly plan in advance of the week and try to have all of these activities sometime during the week: reading, writing, planning, facilitating, doing, communicating, eliminating roadblocks, hiring and coaching.
Other Elements of a Morning Routine Practiced by Many Entrepreneurs
Either type of entrepreneur may have other things that are critical to them in the morning:
- Praying and meditating
- Taking their kids to school
- A particular hobby or craft
- Playing with their pets
- Playing video games
- Watching morning TV
- You name it! They just don’t do this all day.
I hope you found this article fun, entertaining and somewhat enlightening. I think my main point is that there is no “best way”. There are different personalities that are effective in a startup. It takes a team approach to win. The team may not like each other, but they need to respect each other and be willing to work together. For more ideas on entrepreneurship, subscribe to my monthly newsletter for updates and special events.
This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters.